One of the first things that you notice when you meet Shaan S Khanna is her passion. She walks in with a warm smile, immediately putting us at ease and getting us excited about the conversations that will follow.
It is, in fact, this very charm that makes Shaan and her business, Spicy Sangria, an event firm and Networking Now, a networking community, such huge successes. It also makes her the perfect Kool Kanya Gamechanger! “For me, it has always been about helping people. I aim to grow a business that not just reaches a huge number of people but helps impact their lives.”
Shaan Khanna’s Gamechanger Journey
With sixteen years of experience, Shaan’s journey began right when she was a teenager. Her interest in designing bags lead to her becoming a 15-year-old entrepreneur. “I used to love designing bags and my parents encouraged me to actually do it. It led to me going to a few exhibitions and stocking my bags in stores too”.
In fact, the environment that she grew up in had a huge impact on her entrepreneurship skills. Citing her mother as one of her biggest mentors, Shaan shares, “I first started working with my mother, who used to work in events. I think my mother has always been a kind of boss lady – she was always there for me as a kid, but she was also simultaneously thinking of new ideas and working on some amazing projects.
I saw all of that and decided to start my first venture, Spicy Sangria. It was a blog about everything in Mumbai; however, I think I was just lazy with it. I couldn’t keep up with the blog culture and ended up turning it into an offline events firm. We now host curated shows across India and now, Singapore.”
Why Communities Are Important
While Spicy Sangria grows on, one cannot ignore Networking Now. What started as a small Facebook community five years ago is now one of the biggest networking spaces where people can come together to network, find work and grow in their career. “We recently took Networking Now offline and the biggest thing I’ve learned is that by helping others you always end up helping yourself. We have started hosting these Networking Now Roundtables where people talk about their business and help others and so many times people tell me ‘Wow I just realised that I am not following this piece of advice myself’’,” she shared with a laugh.
Shaan also believes that having a community, a safe space, where people can talk about their problems, share their concerns and find the proper people to grow with, and not get duped, helps a lot.
“Forget your family and friends – they will always be your first customers and your biggest supporters – but you also need to meet people who’ve had similar experiences and can help you. It’s so essential to have a place where you can connect, learn and help each other,” she says.
Running a hectic business day in and out is bound to get exhausting, so what is it that really keeps Shaan going. “One is my mother. I’ve always seen her working and helping others. And the second source of my inspiration is the stories I hear on Networking Now. Hearing from the community, and getting to be a part of their journey keeps me going.”
We end with the cliched, but vital question: What have been some of her biggest learnings and what advice would she give to female entrepreneurs?
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“Challenges are always going to be around and all you can do is learn from them and move on. I always trust people too easily and that’s something I am working on every day. I’ve also realised that some people will always find something to complain about. What you can do is not doubt yourself and keep going. It is okay to fail and keep going.”
“However,” she adds, “the biggest thing I’ve learnt is to choose to collaborate over the competition. Each one of us has a different goal and vision and we simply need to work towards it instead of competing with each other. I want to change people’s mindset about that,” she ends before rushing on to her next big meeting.
This interview is a part of our series with The Kool Kanya Gamechangers. You can connect with each of these women on The Kool Kanya Network and find answers to your career queries, inspiration to keep going, and a safe space to share your struggles. Join in, and #RaiseYourPower.