Determined to follow through on her passion, Maharjan overcame various obstacles on her path to professional and personal fulfilment.
The famous American author James Hauenstein once said, “Have no regrets in life because of the choices you make. Good or bad, they are a learning experience, to help you grow. The only regret in life is to never choose at all”. Srijana Joshi Maharjan, Director of Ideashop Nepal abides by this saying. Having led the business for more than a decade, Maharjan believes that a person, especially women, should be able to live for oneself and follow their dreams. She says, “Sometimes we must choose what we love”.
Born in a nuclear family in Kathmandu, Maharjan spent most of her time with her maternal uncle as her father used to get transferred from one place to another from his job. Being the eldest child, she had a sense of responsibility from a young age; a responsibility in terms of teaching her younger sister and brother and taking care of them. Today she feels that the quality of being responsible, nurturing and understanding is innate in women.
During her school days, she remembers that she used to listen to FM radio quite often. Her friends used to compliment her voice and suggest her to work in radio. Since she was inquisitive, she decided to try her hand in this field. Although she was from a commerce background, as a teenager, she applied for a Radio Jockey position at Image FM. She got selected as a part-timer, starting her journey in the media sphere. Maharjan says that she entered this field following the whim and suggestion of her friends.
After entering into the field of media, people further recommended her to join television and appear onscreen. Due to her curiosity and learning attitude, she decided to appear onscreen.
While Maharjan did appear onscreen and hosted a few programmes, she was more fascinated with the off-screen work. Subsequently, she soon started making short documentaries, music videos and a few advertisements as well. Yearning to learn more about film making, she joined the London Film Academy to study film making. “At that point of time, I wanted to work as a director,” she says. But due to some reasons she could not, instead, she started working as an executive producer.
Meanwhile, Maharjan started her office in around 2012. Although she had already started her company Media Act, she did not have an office space, but as soon as she started working on different projects, she felt the need for one. She says that in order to change the impression that the company only works in media, the team decided to change the name to Ideashop. The company is a strategic management company which deals with marketing, finance, publicity along with other work in media.
In addition, Maharjan founded Birranjana Entertainment, a film production company in 2018 to pursue her dream of film making. Till date, they have already produced a film called Sarauto. Likewise, their other film Hello Jindagi is in its final phase. Maharjan informs that there are some other films in the pipeline such as ID No 8848 and O Priya. “But as the situation is not so good, we are not being able to pursue them. However, background work is being done on both of these films,” she states. Soon she aspires to make an international level Nepali movie that is commercial and vibrant.
Besides, Maharjan also serves as a managing director at a food and beverage company GG Machaan. She says that the company has employed around 35 people. Likewise, they have been able to provide 50 direct employment through other sister organisations of GG Machaan.
Moreover, she serves as a managing director at Lalitpur Patriots International. It is a sports management company where they have two cricket teams – Lalitpur Patriots (men) and Lalitpur Falcons (women). Lalitpur Patriots is also a franchise of Everest Premier League. Although she is not a sports enthusiast, being involved with Lalitpur Patriots gave her a chance to learn about cricket.
Everybody has their share of struggles, so did Maharjan. Wearing multiple hats was not easy for her. The struggle within her was more difficult than external struggles. “Like other women, a kind of hesitation and prejudice was also prevalent in me,” she says, adding, “The feeling that ‘the next person might say something, or if it’s right or not, and if I can say this or not’ has always been a barrier”. She says that such things revolving around in her mind were more difficult than financial challenges, societal challenges or other challenges. However, she says that in general, women cannot open up and express themselves in front of people immediately.
Regardless of this, she says women are good at multitasking. They are able to manage their home as well as work together. “So I think it is a strength of women,” she says adding, “But sometimes the stress level rises and bursts out in the form of anger and irritation, which has a negative impact”. In such times, family support is very important. Maharjan is assured that her family has always been very supportive. She also feels lucky to have an understanding and supportive husband.
Two years ago, Maharjan had an operation and she feels that it was the lowest point of her life. “It was a period when I was feeling mentally low,” she remembers, shrinking her face a bit. Being physically as well as mentally weak, she shares that those six months were very tough for her. At that time, her family was there but she claims that her work helped her to come out of that phase. If there wasn’t her work, she thinks that overcoming that phase would have been next to impossible. “I would be rather staying at home today,” she says. Even if she was having an off day or feeling distressed, she says that getting ready for work took her to a different dimension. “It creates a kind of excitement and gives energy to me,” she explains.
Moreover, she shares that she was very much motivated and inspired by Simi Garewal’s television programme Rendezvous, an Indian talk show. Although Garewal used to talk to celebrities on that show, Maharjan says that she got insights about life through the programme. She says whenever she feels low, she does yoga and meditation.
Maharjan observes a changing environment for women entrepreneurs in Nepal as society has become more open. Women’s voices and opinions are heard more and taken seriously as well. Likewise, technology has made it a lot easier for people who want to do business. People can start a business with a small investment via social media. They can also do social marketing business or media marketing business from their home. She recalls how difficult it was to get a part-time job back then, but today, she says that young people can take their education and career hand in hand. So there are greater opportunities today.
Straight forward and dynamic, she believes that a person should be well educated to become successful in business. “By well educated, I don’t mean s/he should only have an education certificate from some reputed university. Having proper knowledge about the business, sense of responsibility and belongingness and being mindful is also important,” she says. Along with this, it is also important for a person to be able to make the right decisions at the right time.