I come from a family of civil servants and I had always thought it was the right career for me.

For several years I attempted the Civil Service Exam

while working intermittently in the development sector. I worked with non-profits, social enterprises and international development agencies but refused all full-time positions that came my way, as my focus was the civil services. In spite of repeated attempts, I could not clear even the preliminary exam. After four years of trying, I had reached a point of utter frustration and despair.

It was during this time that

a dear friend introduced me to the Bible.

I was desperately in need of peace and for the first time in my life, I experienced peace in its true, purest form in the midst of a storm. This helped me to understand how precious I was to God and brought to light all the dormant desires He had put in me. In 2014, I embraced Jesus Christ’s love. It was also the last year I attempted the civil services exam.

I’d always had a deep desire to pursue fashion design

but I had thought it too impractical. I dreamt of designing clothes and showcasing my designs to the world. After much deliberation and little sleep, I finally took the decision to plunge into the world of fashion. In spite of opposition from home, I joined a one-year course at NIFT.

I worked during the day, first as a designer and later as marketing consultant with handmade textile-related social enterprises, and attended classes at NIFT in the evenings. A year later, towards the end of my course at NIFT, a fashion show came my way. It was at that point out of the blue that

my apparel business was launched!

It was a fun show and got some media attention. I was surprised at the way my work was appreciated. Over the next nine months, I started creating customized apparel for clients.

I didn’t have the kind of pinpointed focus that was necessary to stand out in a very competitive market but I knew what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to create a huge inventory or make clothes from synthetic fabrics or design heavy, ornately embroidered clothing. I wanted to design clothes that exuded understated elegance. With my background in the development sector, my heart was close to rural livelihoods and I wanted to pick up fabrics and trims that promoted the same. I created each garment with some handcrafted element in it.

After those first couple of months in the fashion industry, my parents decided to invest in the business – a workshop in the garage. Thus my first collection was born. The path thereafter has been about building the brand, marketing my designs in the right places and forging bonds with the right people who will propel this business forward, a large part of who are my church family at Refreshing International Ministries.

Becoming an entrepreneur has really been about striking a balance

between the designing that I enjoy so much and managing and growing the business. Each step – sourcing, production and sales – comes with its own set of challenges. It involves an openness to change, evolving, correcting your course and keep it interesting both for yourself and the consumers. I never dreamed that I would become a businesswoman but it’s been a very exciting, challenging and fruitful journey.

Growth is taking place, there is a good demand for the garments I design; I am now seeking God’s guidance for the direction my business should take as well as for the resources to take it up a notch. Every day has been an opportunity to understand God’s plan and purpose in my life for this business. I’m sure as I depend on Him, He will give me innovative designs, wise advisors, talented and loyal employees and most importantly, a broad purpose to bless others and glorify His name through this business.

-Dipti Mrinalini

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