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Lavanya Bahuguna


Kaya Kalp Founder Kulsum Malik Shares Her Painful But Rewarding Journey To Success

  • IWB Post
  •  January 10, 2018

Kulsum Malik is the founder and head-honcho of Kaya Kalp Beauty Salons spread across Jaipur; with her products being loved worldwide. Kulsum’s story is so inspirational that it has been taken as a case-study by many aspiring entrepreneurs and students, including me, during college!

This interview, however, talks about the other side of Kulsum. While retelling her story, Kulsum drew her memory curtains and told childhood stories of ammi and abba. She spoke candidly about her kids and how much she had enjoyed giving a makeover to their bedrooms. Also, she blushed and spoke about the love of her life, her husband. Excerpts:

Let’s begin by talking about your childhood?
I want to talk about my parents. My father was deaf; my mother was uneducated, but they both had the wisdom of excellence.IMG_2105 Though both my mother and father belonged to Nawab families, our family lived in poverty after everything was snatched from our ancestors. We went to a Hindi medium school where we had to sit on broken wooden benches.IMG_1975

There was shortage of food and everything else. Sometimes I refused to eat because I didn’t like the taste of mixed flour replacing the tasty wheat flour we usually eat. Seeing my cousins living a better life than my family was extremely aching. When my father passed away, life was tough, and I decided not to die in similar circumstances. I had spent nights crying non-stop, sometimes regretting my present, sometimes planning the future.

Sadly, many people still think girl child is a liability.

I was the youngest and was one of six girls in the family. I remember my mother saying – “Beti, baarish aur mehman niyamat hain. Zarurat se zyada ho jaye toh buri hoti hain.”IMG_1993

I think she is seeing me from heaven. I have made her proud. Her girl child has made her proud and happy.

I want to know how your mother influenced your life.

In 1965, she went to Pakistan. She saw tape-recording for the first time there. When she came back, she narrated to us that it is possible to record one’s voice and listen to it. She had that eagerness to learn about new things, and this thing got absorbed in me.

How was it that you decided to marry a Hindu man?

When she first met Anil, her first words for him were – ‘Bohot khoob ladka hai’. I got skeptical and asked her repeatedly if she is sure. I was expecting thunderous anger on my decision to marry a boy from another religion. IMG_2103This was the early 70s. Once I was convinced about my family’s approval, we went to his. They opposed but we didn’t give up. I still wear the first gift Anil gave to me – a gold ring worth Rs. 2,800.

How did you adjust to a completely different environment in Jaipur?

His family’s lifestyle was poles apart from mine, and I used to feel small in front of them. Anil and I lived separately from the family. When my first child was born, my mother-in-law came to meet us. I can’t forget that day.IMG_2013

What was your learning in this journey?

First, ki taaleem ka koi substitute nahi hota. The way you talk is one thing, but what you think of the other person is actually your taaleem you get from your family.IMG_1988

Second, mehnat aur insaan ka mukkaddar, gaadi ke do pahiye hain. Mai mehnat karne ke alawa mukkaddar mein bhi yakeen karti hoon.

You’ve got many inspiring one-liners.
There were few people in a conference who wanted to listen to something about my story. I just told them one line…

(Kulsum’s eyes got wet)IMG_2065

..mai ek gaddhe se nikal kar aayi hu. Uss gaddhe ko maine hi raasta diya aur baahar nikali.
Unlike other, I had to dig my own well and progress. Mujhme junoon tha par guroor kabhi nahi hone diya.

Do you have any more dreams to fulfill?

My husband and now son are supporting me in the business. For kids, we have done a lot and continue to do so. But I want to do something for Anil now. I want him to relax and enjoy the life. Umar nikal gayi mehnat karte huye, ab ghumna chahti hu Anil ke saath.IMG_2061

This interview was first published on July 7, 2015.

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