The Legitimate Desk
This woman from old city is an inspiration for millions of souls living in the Valley. With no formal schooling, 65 year old, Kulsam Jan hails from a modest family background. Married to a government employee Kulsum was dismayed with the growing financial requirements back home and with the limited income of her husband. The tough life forced her to move back to her childhood days and she chooses one of the toughest professions – Marketing – to supplement her family income.
“From my childhood days I was always inclined towards business. Even on special festivals like Eid, instead playing outside with the children I would go and buy some products and then sell those to my friends to earn some extra money,” recalls Kulsum while sitting at her lavish officer in the old city where business community is always at the receiving end due to frequent shutdowns, protests and stone pelting incidents.
In the last several years, luck and hard work favored Kulsum and from few thousands her business turnover is in crores and she managed to break gender stereotype. After acquiring a distribution for particular area of one the most selling electronic brands Luminous Battery, this brave lady began marketing herself for the product.
“I had no staff and no money to hire people. I decided myself to approach the shopkeepers in Srinagar city but unfortunately I was not able to communicate the technical part of it to my customers,” she says recalling her earlier days.
Like every new comer, she also faced handicap due to her poor technical understanding and used to call company officials of and on seeking redressed grievances of product and left her customers satisfied. And it didn’t take much time for Kulsum to learn technical aspects as well. Such was her marketing expertise for the company that people especially customers started calling her ‘Luminous aunty’ on the brand name of the product which she sold.
“Today wherever I go people recognize me as Luminous Aunty. It is all because I have been tirelessly reaching to the market to sell my product,” she said.
The desire to expand her business for Kulsum didn’t end. Today she has over 15 top brands available at her business unit and almost all are international electronic brands. In the trading sector, this inspiring woman has turned an inspiration for the women in Kashmir.
With the passage of time now she has a strong marketing team at her call employs over a dozen people directly through her business unit.
Kulsam is all praise for her husband and she believes that support from her family has been her success.
‘’Family support especially from my husband has been the main reason for my success,’’ she says.
Kulsoom’s hard work in the business sector did not make her financially strong but it turned her articulate, positive and a confidant woman.
From her street to street marketing in initial days of business, Kulsoom now is spending most of her time in attending meetings in luxurious hotels and resorts abroad arranged by her company and exploring the world.
“This business has not only empowered me financially, however, I got better insight of the world that how a person can achieve all what he aims if he takes challenges positively.”
Kulsoom sometimes feel very emotional that how a woman in business is being treated initially in a male patriarchy society.
“Initially I had no social acceptance for my job and people would call names when I used to leave for work. Marketing by a woman of electronic item and that too an illiterate woman was uncommon and unheard. People would feel uncomfortable with me striking deals but I continued positively without losing the zeal and energy. And I proved it,” she says.
Mother of three young daughters – Kulsoom wants to pass her business acumen to them, besides giving them good education.
Iqra Khan her elder daughter is studying MBBS in USA while Iram Khan is pursuing Journalism and youngest Seerat was more inclined towards the business and wanted to make her own name.