Rakhee Chopra: Rakhee Chopra Design
Tell us about yourself.
Growing up in India helped me realize my love for colours. My mom would wear beautiful sarees, traditional dresses, and jewelry to match. She’s the one who taught me how to sew and little did she know, I would cut up her sarees and make dresses for myself. By age 11, I was sewing for friends and family. I’ve always had a great entrepreneurial drive; this was a gift from my dad. I also saw the hours he put into his business and late nights he had to work. I have a Fashion Design and Technology diploma from George Brown College here in Canada and I also have a few diplomas in Fashion Design from my country back in India. I always had a creative side and enjoy arts and crafts, needlepoint, painting, you name it! I would sign up to a course that was of interest to me and strive to master it.
Tell us about your business
My business is just under a year old, but my experience in fashion business goes beyond that! Thirty years to be precise. My business is divided into 3 different modules; I custom design for any size, shape and body for women. I also provide ready to wear lines i.e., off the rack for women sizes 12 and up. The third part to my business is public speaking and workshops to teach women how to love thr bodies that they were gifted with. I am very passionate on how these three modules complement one another beautifully.
I currently have two volunteers/friends who have supported me throughout my new business. One of them takes care of the admin and the other takes care of cutting and sewing as needed. I had 3 Fashion students during the summer who usedtheir co-op hours to help me with my business. Business gets a bit smoother with help. I am so thankful for all the help and support around me!
Was there something that drew (or pushed) you into being an entrepreneur?
Since I was young, I dreamed about being a business owner. I had to step back from my business to take care of my family and went back to retail with my business part time. My struggle with retail hours and scheduling didn’t make life easy. I was laid off from my last retail job which was the best thing that ever happened to me. I promised myself that I was never going back to retail. Truly enough, I worked towards getting my business started; it was like a lifelong dream come true! The passion to make a difference in someone's life was finally becoming real.
What were some of the challenges you faced getting started and how did you overcome them?
Starting a business wasn’t an easy choice. I had no financial support to create my vision. All I had was one industrial sewing machine and 4 commercial sewing machines. I needed more fabrics to build up my inventory. I received help from the London Small Business Centre to seek my possible options for loans. I was approved from Rise Asset Development and also received an Impact Loan from Goodwill Industries. With that I also gained support of great mentors and business advisors. Without their guidance, I would be lost.
As a busy entrepreneur, what do you like to do when you take a break?
Life is jam packed for an entrepreneur, with 3 elements to my business and two high needs children, there is barely any me time. I like to keep the evenings devoted to my family. I have date nights with them one at a time and a date night with my girlfriend. Work and home, will never be truly balanced, what is important is to make time for everyone. My “me” time usually contains of some kind of art; my current Favorites are adult colouring books and crocheting.
Learn More about Rakhee Chopra Designs at https://www.rakheechopra.com/