Reena Sahay is a successful entrepreneur whose story will inspire many women to dissolve the binaries of work and home
Reena Sahay is an entrepreneur, a mother of three children, and a trader. Two of her children are lawyers, one of them is married to a lawyer, her daughter is a psychologist who wants to pursue higher studies abroad, and her husband headed the law division of a nationalised bank before he retired a couple of years ago.
She has been a trader for a long time maintaining the right balance between work and home, a good example of how to juggle between the two without being overly demonstrative about it. Her husband had a transferable job, and she decided to stay back in Lucknow and Noida, took care of her growing children and ageing parents-in-law, but never ceased to work. She was trading various brands that included items for housekeeping. A few years ago, she decided to introduce her own brand—Trisha—for a wide range of cleaning materials and sanitisers.
Reena turned adversity into opportunity. The pandemic was the time when her business quadrupled, despite the fact that malls and bigger shopping arcades, who happen to be her main clients, were shut sine die during the uncertain months of the pandemic. Her sales figures showed a steep rise, for her products are effective and cheaper, and not very garish like the sweet-smelling products of multinationals companies.
Her insights as a trader came in handy, she was able to make the right noises in the market and forged alliances to sell her products. There are some five other women who help her, and the whole arrangement is informal but works fairly well.
Not only that, she hopes to employ more women in her venture. “I want to provide viable employment opportunities to women,” she articulates her vision for the future, which is not just pecuniary interest but she is guided by a certain sense of social responsibility. She, in that sense, is a change agent.
Unlike many members of her family, she goes about her work without much ado. Many people who know her in a family setting are not even aware that she runs a paying enterprise. That’s despite the fact that she’s a great conversationalist.
All this didn’t happen easily for Reena, and her professional life has been a mixed bag. She is fairly forthright in acknowledging that her work-life was interspersed with episodes of failures. She kept at it, and things changed for the better. She has a way with words, which comes across clearly listening to her. She is a doer, and her actions speak louder than words. The outcome is important but so is the process, and a little progress each day adds up to big results, eventually.
There were occasions when her commitment to family meant she had little time for her trading business. Her work took a back seat for a few years. But she resumed “with full power and full enthusiasm,” as she puts it. And now that her husband is back home after retirement, he’s also taking a keen interest in promoting her business. “I take him along. He’s taking an interest,” says Reena.
She plans to buy new premises and upscale production, as she has already procured some lucrative orders, though she doesn’t want to talk about them in public as some are still in the pipeline. And if things go well, she has kept her fingers crossed, plans to go “pan-India” very soon.
Reena is a good example of what Startup India, a flagship initiative of the Government of India, envisions to do: to popularise the startup culture and build a strong and inclusive ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship in India. And many of the job seekers may actually become employment providers. All that’s needed to be done is to go out in the market and offer products and services.
It came naturally to a sociable person like Reena. She has a wide circle of friends of all age groups, from work and otherwise, only helps expand the market for her products. Though it needs to be said, her affable manners are not just about garnering orders, but it is the way she’s wired.
A fun person, a generous host, and a marvellous cook, all these qualities make her an endearing person. A no-nonsense person, she’s a right mix of an encouraging mother who can be very stern when the need arises—defy her at your peril. She is very popular in the extended family, a natural dancer, and a versatile singer. Catching up with her in family settings often culminates in a musical rendezvous.