Being an entrepreneur hasn’t been a cakewalk for Sushmita Sen. The former Miss Universe, it turns out, didn’t have a title sponsor for her I Am She event until a fortnight before the event. She says, "Lack of financial backing and sponsors didn’t deter me. Not doing the show was never an option. We held auditions on our own. When you take that step forward, your conviction starts becoming visible, people believe in you. After that, god has been so kind, that it’s been pouring sponsors for us."
Sushmita reveals she didn’t pitch for this franchise. The Miss Universe office called her to take up the responsibility of sending representatives for the pageant from India last year. She says, "Being India’s first title winner, the opportunity fell in my lap." The actor points out that world over, the pageant has been passed on to former beauty queens like 1991 Miss Universe Lupita Jones from Mexico, 1987 Miss Universe Cecilia Bolocco from Chile among others.
The newly-turned entrepreneur insists she will turn around the property in to a profit-making venture soon. About the second edition of Wadhawan Lifestyle I Am She, she says, "Every business is a five-year plan. I am still in my second and I have a lot more to learn. From making excel sheets to giving presentations to corporates, making budgets, I did everything. None of the sponsors on board are through any marketing agency. We went to the corporates with our presentation, talking about what we are and told them ‘If you believe in us, join us’."
Ask her if the many no’s deterred her? She says, "I have had to say no to film producers so many times when I didn’t like my role. Similarly sponsors have a right to decide they want to be a part of some property or not. But when you are in the thick of meeting a deadline and doing the show, taking a ‘no’ at that time, is hard."
However, the beauty queen says she has learnt to "exit gracefully". "I don’t ask twice. It inspires me to believe that I will come back another time when these people will believe that my property is worth investing in. I don’t force them if they are not ready today. But later it will be on my terms; today it would have been theirs. That belief inspires me."
Sushmita promises next year will be more fun. "I was born to be an entrepreneur. I fit into this space comfortably. I enjoy the whole brand building exercise." The actor says as time goes by she will add more businesses to her I Am parent brand. "Besides I Am She, there is a line of spas, film production in the pipeline for now."
Women on top
Shilpa Shetty: Iosis Medispa
Twinkle Khanna: White Window design store
Ayesha Jhulka: Anantaa nail spa
Ayesha Takia: Chai Coffee, Koyla
Preity Zinta: IPL cricket franchise Kings XI Punjab
Shriya Saran: Shree Spa
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