“It can be tough for any artist to balance creativity with making money. It is important to learn, unlearn and learn again because you don’t retire when you stop working, you retire when you stop evolving.”
I began my career in the advertising industry as a client servicing executive. It was an exciting career where I got to meet new people, work with the stalwarts of the ad industry and party as hard as I worked. I moved on to event management, which was a new and burgeoning industry and this was equally if not more exciting. I had the opportunity to work on huge events, like the Yanni concert in Agra, the MTV Awards, the Channel [V] Roadshows and more, and within just a few years, I was invited to partner, set up and run the event management wing of an ad agency. By this time, I had become a proud mommy of a little boy and the erratic work hours and days away from home, were beginning to take their toll on my mommy emotions.
An incident at work forced me to rethink my choices and I chose to stop working and focus my energy on my home and my son. Being a mother changes many things, including one’s perspective. I had my second baby a couple of years later and I was completely immersed in motherhood and quite enjoying myself, revelling in being a soccer mom, organizing play dates and birthday parties, actively involving myself in my son’s school PTA and doing the usual mommy things.On a trip to England, even before my babies were born, I had chanced upon a bookshop, where a lady was reading to a bunch of enthusiastic little children. That sowed a little seed in my head.
One summer, I invited a group of my son’s friends for a play date and organized a little story telling session for them, followed by some activities and a craft session. The kids loved it and wanted to come back again.
The parents began pushing me to do this professionally, but I didn’t think I could make a career of it. I did put myself out there though, and proposed a once-a-week storytelling workshop at the popular Om Book Store at Vasant Vihar in Delhi. It was quite a hit and I am still in touch with some of my first ever students, who are now young men and women! But it was still a weekend thing, not something I took seriously as a career path. Around that time, I joined a Salsa class, where I met the most incredible, passionate and talented group of people somewhat lacking in marketing skills.
I started helping them with website content, digital media, etc and the rest as they say, is history. Being a part of Choreotheque gave wings to my creativity. Suddenly the idea of storytelling workshops didn’t seem so far-fetched. However, I needed to upskill myself with some knowledge and attended several workshops and certificate courses on counselling, teaching, storytelling, using Drama as therapy, working with children who had ADHD and Teaching of English as a Foreign Language. And that is how Spin-a-Yarn was born. I believe that each child is unique and my aim through my workshops is to help every child realize his or her own potential.
Because I also manage Choreotheque, I have had the opportunity of attending dance and movement training and have enhanced my dancing skills. This led me to launch Learning in Action, a movement program for children between 2-4 years of age. I incorporate movement and creative craft in my storytelling workshops as well.
I’ve realized over the years that all my paths were probably leading to my present career choice. I’m fortunate to have been able to find personal satisfaction with job satisfaction. My flexible hours have allowed me to spend time with my children and a work life balance, which is something that I really wanted. I’m sure a regular nine-to-five job works for a lot of women, but it just wasn’t for me. Besides the inflexibility and the stress of the job, I also was not enjoying the corporate culture. I truly enjoy working with children (even though it can sometimes be very exhausting!) I love seeing them evolve and create and innovate and grow.
It can be tough though, for any artist to balance creativity with making money. We struggle to fill classes, to ensure timely payments towards rents and electricity bills, to rise above the flu by night operator kind of competition… There have been times when we wonder why we are doing what we are doing, but then something always restores faith in our job and we bounce back. When a class was asked to draw whatever they would want if they had a magic pencil that could bring their drawings to life, and a little girl made a drawing of me, that was my reward. When a child who was afraid to even converse in public, confidently pays a lead role in a play, that’s my reward.
My advice then to young women, especially young mothers; Spend time with your children, they grow too fast, too soon, but don’t forget yourself in the process. Go after your dream, follow your heart and if your dreams change along the way, follow the new ones, take that less travelled fork in the road, learn, unlearn, learn again because you don’t retire when you stop working, you retire when you stop evolving.