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In honor of International Women’s Day 2022, we sit down with Jaipur Living COO Archana Chaudhary to talk all things business, family, and female empowerment.

Picture of Archana Chaudhar

Archana Chaudhary is the chief operating officer of Jaipur Living.

Happy International Women’s Day! What does this annual celebration mean to you?

As women we stand for love, care, nurturing, and aesthetics. To me this day means recognition and celebration of all those values on a global level.

You grew up in a progressive family in India, with your father, Chaudhary Family of Brands founder N.K. Chaudhary, championing not only female artisans, but also you and your sisters. How did that inform your world view?

I’m independent; I’m confident; and I’m self-sufficient. And I don’t think I would ever be able to say that had my parents not treated us three girls [Archana, Asha, and Kavi] the same as their sons [Nitesh and Yogesh] and given us the independence and opportunity to pursue education—because that is rare in the community we come from. My parents really challenged the gender norms at the time and that has allowed me to be where I am today.

Tell us an early memory of your father and his passion for bettering the lives of weavers and their communities.

I saw how my father visited the weaver communities and sat and ate with them. This was when they were still considered ‘untouchables.’ He treated them like human beings and in return, he earned their respect. This has always been a source of inspiration for me. When you treat people like humans—rather than based on their gender or race—you can see true potential unfold in front of your eyes. It’s almost magical.

For more on Jaipur Living’s founding and principles, read our story.

Picture of N.K. Chaudhary on a moped

Founder of the Chaudhary Family of Brands N.K. Chaudhary

Jaipur Living works with more than 40,000 rug-makers—85% of whom are women—in over 600 villages in rural India. What is the significance of those statistics?

These numbers prove the power a business has to change lives—not just one or 100, but thousands. Even when you start a business venture for your own basic needs—to be able to support yourself and your family—when done with the right values as your foundation, it has the power to transform the well being of thousands, even millions. It can break norms that impact not only the present, but generations to come for the better.

How does Jaipur Living and its work with the Jaipur Rugs Foundation help give back to women artisans and their families?

Through the Jaipur Rugs Foundation, Jaipur Living supports rug-makers through social and entrepreneurship development, education programs for weavers and their families, accessible health care, and more. The foundation has a real, immediate impact on artisans and their families.

Learn more about Jaipur Living and its partnership with artisans.

What impact do you hope to have on the industry?

I hope to change norms from grounds up. In fact, our company was a leader in implementing Sunday as a holiday every week in an area of India where, traditionally, workers only got one Sunday off each month. I also aim to bring love, compassion, and human connectedness to business practices. And, of course, I want to continue to explore the untapped potential of women artisans through programs like Manchaha.

 

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What does it take to be a strong leader?

Most important are compassion and empathy.

Your father had a strong impact on how you approach business, philanthropy, and the world at large. What values do you hope to pass to your own children?

The values we teach in our household are honest work will always allow you to sleep peacefully at night, compassion, the need to stay grounded, and to lead by example. It’s so important we do what we say and say what we mean.

What does it mean to be in a position where you can support other women entrepreneurs?

Firstly, I’m grateful to be in such a position. I think it’s my duty to show women their potential and to give confidence, support, and inspiration. The more women progress, the more prosperity there will be in business and society. I find it inspiring that the future of business is trending toward ‘heart-driven organizations,’ and women play a big role in that shift.