Am I Happy: The question that changed Ana’s life forever
“Am I happy?” This small question that she asked herself one night, changed her life for ever.
Vandana Jain also known as Ana J decided to set up a website that she believed would be ‘incharge’ of spreading happiness through art, trinkets and memories. An ex-advertising professional, she wanted to engage with people, reflect on simplicity and grasp a void we all feel in our lives – that of the small and the simple.
Ana chats with Ria Das on how she envisages the journey of PrettyPinkPebbles.
Ana, you had a successful life in advertising. What made you quit your job and how did you come up with the idea of PrettyPinkPebbles?
After I quit my job in advertising, one night in the month of August 2013 I had this little question pop up in my heart, Am I happy? The reflex to it was obviously “I am very happy!” I have a doting husband, a kid I can dote on, loving parents, good health, a good life! At the same time I had this feeling inside me that I am in danger of wasting my life. The night was still and silent, but my heart was racing at this thought. I didn’t want to look back at my life at the end of it, and think, “How happy I was, or what did I make of my life.”
I must give something to this world, before I go. If not much, I can share the happiness my heart holds, or infuse the life of others with some simplicity and joy. Or give them a moment of calm in their wild world. All these thoughts flooded my mind, as I sat down and listed some names for my blog. I finally chose PrettyPinkPebbles as my blog name; it suggests that beauty lies in the little little things that life offers us.
That very night in the still of the moment I blocked this domain name, ‘prettypinkpebbles.com,’ and in a flash the world changed for me. I had put some meaning, some purpose into my life, and at that very moment I knew I have given wings to my dreams. I became ‘Happiness Developer’ for myself and for others.
Starting someone on your own isn’t easy… What challenges did you face?
The whole journey has been very challenging of sorts. My initial challenge was to overcome shyness. I wanted to experience the joy of jumping ‘high’ so badly that thinking about the fall or how silly I might look didn’t matter to me. It took a lot of certitude and hardihood to make that leap from being coy to being a one woman army running everything from sourcing, to logistics, to creating website and eventually building my own brand.
Given that everything at PrettyPinkPebbles is handmade, scaling it up without quality loss is extremely important to me. That affects its pace but currently I am very content keeping it small and simple. Having said that, there is no dearth of loads in my plate.
In this business of creating happiness, concept of ‘good time’ is very precious to me. Nothing that is available at my pretty shop has ever rushed through time. Every piece of art has been created with good mood, good intentions and in a very peaceful state of mind.
So while there are but only 24 hours in a day and it is not easy to don various hats, the source of my strength ‘my loving family’ and ‘my inner peace’ keeps me going.
In the beginning, who motivated you to become an artist-entrepreneur?
The entire process has been very self-driven, however, I dedicate all my efforts to my loving husband and super son. PrettyPinkPebbles is one tiny step towards living our dreams together!
What do you think are the particular strengths women have to being a successful entrepreneur?
Every woman today can bring about fresh ideas, originality, experience and true nature to the workplace that could make a big difference.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far?
To create a brand that has a distinct persona, an aura of aesthetics, beauty & simplicity, and that connects with its customers on a personal level, infusing in their lives ‘the joy of little things’.
I hope that each original artwork at PrettyPinkPebbles is able to cast a magical spell on to its viewer that makes them believe ‘Life is Beautiful’!
What would you call the single most important reason for your success?
My determination to follow my quest for happiness, and spreading it!
Besides this, I think having worked in advertising for 12 years for some of the finest brands of India has given me a better understanding of how brands are built. In fact, I think going forward this beautiful blend of ‘creativity’ and knowledge of ‘building brand’ is going to be extremely worthy!
What message are you sending to all women out there through PrettyPinkPebbles?
PrettyPinkPebbles sets a very fine example for a woman to look within and discover that one thing that she is very passionate about or that one thing that she can share with the world. The world is waiting to discover you!
What part of your journey have you reached? What lies ahead for this venture?
This is just the very beginning. I’m into the business of spreading happiness & what I understand of it is that ‘happiness is not a destination, it is a journey!’
Of course, I have plans for its future expansion. I intend to diversify my art and collaborate it with lifestyle and fashion. I plan to tie up with few select brands and work in unison with them. I believe the world is my palette and the possibilities are endless.
How would you like people to remember you and your company?
I would want PrettyPinkPebbles to be remembered as a magical space, where beauty, happiness, hope, peace and grace are a plenty!
One piece of advice for young women entrepreneurs…
Have big dreams and keep taking tiny steps towards realizing them.