From a doctor to a designer, crafter to a writer, Charmaine Rathish has had an unusual professional journey with varied experiences, digressing paths which she feels ‘have added to make it rich and multi-hued’. Charmaine is a homeopathic doctor by profession but she has also been an artist, volunteered with several NGO’s, been an administrator at an art gallery, worked as an apprentice with a Bangalore-based handloom revivalist and she is now an entrepreneur/influencer at her own company Out ‘O’ Box, which is a creative writing firm in Bangalore.
She feels all her experiences add a holistic perspective to her work, “My writing career happened by accident. I started out blogging about several things for a couple of months, a company found my work online and put me onto food writing and restaurant review assignments for UK based food websites, Book-a-table and Restaurant Guide. This was followed by consistent work across US, UK, Singapore and India on several content projects in niches as diverse as décor and medicine, to wine, hotels, and gambling.
Charmaine set up Out ‘O’ Box very impulsively when the work kept coming in despite absolutely no marketing effort and only based on word of mouth reference.
I realised I was doing something right, giving consistent quality and getting into niches no content firm had got into. This is when I knew I was actually providing value.”
The transition from medicine to writing was not without its doubts, worries, and fears. Before jumping full time into writing Charmaine had tried so many careers. It took her a long time, several missteps, failures, fears and brickbats before she finally pursued her passion. Even then people around her wouldn’t take her seriously and she had to push through mental and physical barriers and gain an all round experience to become the professional she is now.
She adds, “Entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint-hearted. When you are the boss, every decision lies with you, your success and failures directly stem from your actions and it takes a lot of unlearning and re-learning to arrive at this stage… what you earn is a direct result of the work you put in.
Mentoring is essential for entrepreneurs, because certain roadblocks that appear enormous may actually seem little given the perspective that a mentor brings in.
I have been mentored at various stages in my startup journey and now also provide mentoring to budding women entrepreneurs – understanding their skills, tapping into resources, offering operational and marketing support.”
To Charmaine, work-balance feels like a mirage, an illusion because she has to constantly cater to her two babies – one that she gave birth to, and the other that she created. She had worked right through her difficult pregnancy, a tough delivery and through her child’s milestones. She informs, “My idea of balance is to switch off work every now and then by doing something different – a walk in the park, movies, books and music. I don’t believe there is any structure to maintaining a work-life balance since every working person’s perspective is different.”
Charmaine’s startup is currently at a growth stage, and it is looking to expand massively in India and abroad in the next five years. She asserts that in the end, entrepreneurship is all about learning – “…on the job, through books, from others, at all times. Ask for help, be honest if you don’t know something, and ignore the financial aspect at the start. Once your product or service speaks for you, money will trickle in automatically.”