“I had hidden from my family about taking a loan for opening a parlour,” recalls Lalita Bisht, a 24-year-old first-generation entrepreneur from Satoli village, Ramgarh block, Nainital, Uttarakhand.
“They came to know about it when they saw my photo on Udhyam’s poster. Initially, they were angry but then asked me to ensure that I do not do anything wrong and bring dishonour to the family,” she adds.
Ever since she was a child, Lalita wanted to become an air hostess. She went to Delhi, and worked there, in the summer breaks after 10th and 12th exams, to work and realise her dreams. However, she was unsuccessful on both occasions. She returned to Satoli due to ill-health and decided to pursue a BA from Almora, for which she used to leave early from her home to catch a 7.30 am bus. Due to unavailability of the bus, she often used to walk over three kilometres to reach home from the nearest bus stop.
As Bisht was interested in beauty and fashion, during her college, she bunked her classes to work at Sringar Beauty Parlour, Almora, where she learnt the basics. During the last year of her graduation, she borrowed clothes on loan from a local shopkeeper to open a garments shop in her village.
While she was struggling to set her foot firm an acquaintance told her about Udhyam and encouraged her to apply for the pilot project on entrepreneurship.
After clearing various rounds of selection, she received financial help and mentorship to open Lavi Beauty Parlour in his village.
“As a part of the mentorship, I was also sent to Haldwani for two months to get training at Volume Salon and Spa. The training helped me to hone my skills and be more confident in my work,” she says.
At the garment shop, she often did threading of her customers and created a loyal customers base for the parlour. When she formally opened a parlour, she did not have to struggle much for her customers. This loyalty resulted in regular repayment of the loan on time. Today, as her customers do not want to shop from any other shop, she has expanded her business to cater to their needs. “This year due to the demand, I had to keep the woollen cloths as well,” she reveals.
Lalita is grateful to Udhyam for granting her loan despite having no family support. “Their mentorship and encouragement made me confident and taught me essentials, like identifying my customers, marketing, and bookkeeping. The emphasis on building trust with customers has helped me a lot in my business and helped me to repay the loan on time”
In the near future, Lalita wants to open a chain of the unisex salon. She intends to start this from Nathuakhan. At the moment, she is also training young girls so that they can visit homes of customers, who can’t visit parlour for some reason. She is working on her dreams, despite pressure from her home and village to get married. She firmly responds, “I will not give up on my dreams.”