Breaking the glass ceiling in the liquor business, meet Lisa Srao
By Amrita Paul, Content Writer, SheThePeople.TV
Lisa Srao, is an astute trailblazer who decided to take a plunge into the otherwise male-dominated liquor business in the country close to five years ago and since then her company, Brands Beverages has won six awards and their turnover has been doubling every year.
But most of all, believe in your dream
The journey started for Lisa, in 2003, when she decided to move to India from the UK with her husband and two children. Prior to that, she was a media professional working in London. She says, “I wanted to keep my options open, have a life with my children and also wanted to start off with something on my own.”
India ready for a woman leading a liquor business?
Through extensive research, Lisa found out that Indian markets were not exposed to premium quality international products – either they were too expensive owing to an exorbitant amount of import duty being levied, or they were soggy and improper. Her decision to make a foray into the liquor industry was partially fuelled by the fact her father owned a beer brand, Double Dutch, in the UK and she was exposed to quality liquor from the UK and around the world, so as to provide a market place for something similar in India.
“With that in mind, I started visiting breweries and distilleries from across the country, in search of a place that could deliver what I wanted,” says Lisa, who, along with her husband had exhausted almost their entire savings to make the dream, a reality.
But, was India ready for a woman helming a liquor business?
“Nobody was ready to take me seriously and I was told that I needed to pay the distributors to be able to put my products in the market,” she says.
What made things more difficult was the ‘thekedari’ culture and that every state in India has different set of rules, exercise duty etc for importing alcohol. But even then, products by Brands and Beverages (they manufacture two kinds of whiskey, rum and brandy) now have their presence in 11 states and will be soon exporting to Cambodia and Vietnam.
you can have a family and be great at what you do
Lisa, who is all praise for her dedicated staff for making this happen, feels that for entrepreneur, it is vital to research extensively to find out if their business venture is scalable.
“But most of all, believe in your dream. Especially women, you can have a family and be great at what you do. Even if you are choices are being frowned upon, stop at nothing,” she adds.