Started as a writing club for schoolgirls, Fuzia became a venture that grew from 2 to 45 team members. Fuzia is an online networking community and a global platform to showcase talent and skills - be it stories, blogs, poetry, photographs, articles, fashion, art, craft, videos, or designs! This is done along with building one another through creative expression, experiential learning, and mutual support. Today we are featuring Shraddha Varma who is a co-founder of Fuzia. She shares her entrepreneurial journey, its ups, and downs along with the story of Fuzia.
FailWise: Tell us about your background and journey as an entrepreneur?
Shraddha: Apart from being a management professional, an experienced marketer, and an ambitious entrepreneur, I am a passionate learner and a creative thinker with strong communication and leadership skills. I believe that if women are to break away from the clutches of orthodox, patriarchal, pseudo/liberal patriarchal brackets, then economic independence becomes a prerequisite for them.
As a Co-founder, I not only lead the global marketing and operations in Fuzia but also drives and mentors her team in cross-culture environments. I strongly believe in gender equality and that women are the largest reservoir of untapped talent. With hopes of reaching out to every single woman who shares the idea of empowerment is long due, I struggle each day to make what I think should be a reality. Through Fuzia, I wish to positively impact and see a world where women can come together globally and help each other grow, live their passions, pursue their dreams and build their own identity- thereby driving Gender Equality, Feminism & Empowerment.
Fuzia is a one of its kind online social media platform for women and girls to encourage and empower each other through the power of creative expressions. It utilizes the power of the internet and gives them a stage to showcase their voice in an environment filled with creativity, inspiration, collaboration, compassion, and empathy. In a span of 8 years, Fuzia has garnered the support of thousands of creative women and influenced more than 5 million followers globally. I strongly believe that being a woman is a superpower in itself and henceforth, believes in encouraging other women to become their own inspiration. I am a thrill-seeker, an avid traveler, and an admirer of impactful quotes, with a vision to translate ideas into tangible results and creative initiatives.
FailWise: Tell us about your brand and other brands you have founded.
Shraddha: Fuzia is a venture of Open Growth Media, which is known to be a virtual stage for people to exhibit their talents, creativity and spark meaningful conversations amongst people who share similar passions. It focuses on building various theme-based media properties that help attract and build diverse and inclusive global talent networks. They seek to uplift communities through the power of the media.
In order to create a social impact on a global level, Open Growth Media ventured into a flagship media property called Fuzia, which is an online networking community and a global platform to showcase your talent and skills - be it stories, blogs, poetry, photographs, articles, fashion, art, craft, videos or designs! This is done along with building one another through creative expression, experiential learning, and mutual support.
The platform is open to every individual, across all genders who support the cause of women empowerment, feminism, equality, and mutual support/upliftment. Fuzia believes in “she for she” and “he for she” and also considers the fact that true ‘Empowerment’ is incomplete without men supporting it. All in all, Fuzia believes that an empowered woman is a happy woman and we drive ‘Happiness’ through the power of 6 key elements:
· Relationships and friendships
· Learning and education
· Engagement and activities
· Charity and kindness
· Financial independence
Began as a writing club by an 11-year-old girl, Riya Sinha (Founder), in 2012 and later joined by me, Shraddha Varma (Co-founder), in 2015. Currently, I am leading the entire global team of 30+ creative minds all with a common goal of creating a positive global impact, Fuzia has emerged to become an online networking community with 100,000+ members and 5 million+ followers on social media.
Fuzia’s mission is to empower women by providing a platform that lets them present their ideas and talent to the world. Talents and expressions should not remain suppressed and undermined, and we abide by giving them the due visibility, support, and appreciation. Through Fuzia’s initiative Fuzia Talent, we allow our talented members to get opportunities to earn through suitable work assignments, internships, and projects, thereby making them economically empowered too. While we continue doing our bit to empower Future Women Leaders, we also intend to do well for society by donating 5% of our revenue from projects towards the cause of upliftment and empowerment of women.
Recently, Fuzia has been featured by various prestigious platforms such as Inter Press Service, United Nations Bureau, Forbes India, The Hindustan Times, and many more. Moreover, Riya Sinha (Founder) has been awarded “Iconic Teen Entrepreneur and Innovator” at Women Economic Forum and has also been invited to TED Sonama County, where she shared her story and called out for women to believe in themselves and achieve their dreams.
Fuzia has started the below-mentioned ventures under Fuzia:
1. Fuzia Talent is Fuzia’s initiative to allow their talented members to get opportunities to earn through suitable work assignments, internships, and projects, thereby making them economically empowered too. While we continue doing our bit to empower Future Women Leaders, we also intend to do well for society by donating 5% of our revenue from projects towards the cause of upliftment and empowerment of women.
2. Humans of Fuzia is a dedicated section to showcase the Inspiring journeys of women from all over the world.
3. Fuzia.org is a Social Activism platform to enhance Fuzia’s vision to empower, educate and uplift women globally. It is a platform for local organizations and NGOs working towards causes related to education, women empowerment, upliftment of the unprivileged, women's health, acid attack victims, rape victims, betterment of the transgender community, and a lot more.
4. Learning & Education within Fuzia is an inclusive global learning community to encourage and nurture women to become future leaders by providing opportunities to learn, grow, and get mentored by experts around the world.
5. Fuzia Wellness is a one-stop platform for all wellness-related requirements of women.
FailWise: When was the first time you thought of starting Fuzia?
Shraddha: Riya Sinha, Co-Founder of Fuzia, visualized the concept of Fuzia while studying at Palo Alto High School, California as an 11-year-old. She always loved creative writing as a child, so much so that she used to write creative endings of books when she wasn’t satisfied with the end! Riya loved writing stories, so with the help of a family friend, she wrote a book called ‘Runaway Twins’. She thought of the plot mostly by herself, just using her own imagination. It was about a pair of twins who solve a family mystery to help save their family. Later, reading her book, a 6-year-old girl came up to her with utmost exhilaration to tell Riya that she was inspired to write a book too and that she has made her realize her true calling. The incident seeded so deep in Riya and made her experience the potential of inspiration. She wanted to influence all the girls and women around the world to get inspired by each other. Thus, in 2012 she started Fuzia as a Writing club, a platform meant for schoolgirls to share their writings and essays. It is now fuzia.com, a venture that grew from 2 to 45 team members with the major vision of influencing and empowering creative females globally.
FailWise: What were your fears and challenges while starting your own brand (family or professional challenges), and how did you conquer them? (please tell in detail).
Shraddha: Being into the social media industry is an ocean of various challenges and increasing competitiveness. So, it has always been a challenge for us to sustain. However, the initial challenge was finding an audience and figuring out ways to promote the website to young girls. The biggest challenge that I personally faced once Fuzia was growing is time management. Especially when Riya was still in high school, it was hard to balance the school commitments with opportunities that Fuzia provided (such as conferences and events) where she could meet and learn from amazing entrepreneurs.
FailWise: What is the best lesson you have learned from your journey? And what advice would like to give to someone just starting out their entrepreneurial journey?
Shraddha: Over the years, I have learned that it is best to follow your dreams and have a positive attitude in life to achieve them. I know how the world operates against you and the difficulties you have to go through, but do not stop believing in your individuality and the strength that comes along with it. Look forward, step by step, and attain your goals through the pillars of true liberty. Be empowered and empower others through your skills.
Do not forget to put your passion on your shoulders and be translucent about your goals and their implementation. While selecting a business, keep in mind to take up one that you not only love but have a fair idea about. Research about it well, assess your finances, write your business plan, assess the market, and consult with professionals before you embark on your journey.
Most importantly, don’t lose hope. Because keeping hope is always a good thing!
FailWise: Tell us about those attempts that were not successful, but you learned a lot from them? In simple words “what not to do”!
Shraddha: Being into a social media industry, is an ocean of various challenges and increasing competitiveness. So, it has always been a challenge for us to sustain. This taught me to never stop trying. I truly believe is the quote- "If you fail in your journey, always change the plan, but never your goal".
FailWise: What keeps you motivated and empowered even at your low times? (if you have your own quotes please share).
Shraddha: Inspired by the words of Maya Angelou, “Each time a woman stands for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women", I believe that in today’s time, it is very important for every woman to believe in herself in order to achieve her goals. Once you believe in yourself, you will never give up and achieve your goals with confidence.
FailWise: Did you face any gender-associated obstacles?
Shraddha: Gender obstacles in a world where we’re all brought up certain pre-conceived values do not come at the front until we begin noticing them with a keen eye. Talking of my family and the upbringing I’ve had, I haven’t faced many obstacles, which for a fact doesn’t happen in most households.
However, as a woman out in a world struggling to create an identity of my own, I’ve felt the discrimination quite close. We as women aren’t expected to excel in life so much and even if we do, we’re somehow made to feel incompetent in our ‘other’ responsibilities. Most people still have an underestimated sense of what women can really accomplish and achieve. I haven't still made peace with the level of surprise that people’s actions and words reflect while they see women achieve the unexpected. However, to be able to do it gives me immense satisfaction!
FailWise: Any message that you want to give.
Shraddha: I would like all of us to remember that the female energy is as positive as one can imagine. I believe that being a woman is a superpower and we must be our own role models. We have so many talents that we keep hidden as there is not a “safe world” out there for women. “Why should women take a step back and compromise every time?” Women’s empowerment is also about giving women a space to use their skill sets and voice out their opinions without the fear of being judged and looked down upon. I aspire to bring this space to women if they can’t come to it and let the world know that sisterhood knows no boundaries. Lastly, be the reason for your own happiness and never hesitate to dream big.
FailWise: Awards, accolades, or any recognition that you and your venture received?
Shraddha: Fuzia has been featured by various prestige platforms, such as Forbes India, Hindustan Times, IPS by the UN, and many more. Also, Riya Sinha (Co-Founder) has been awarded “Iconic Teen Entrepreneur and Innovator” at Women Economic Forum and has also been invited to TED Sonoma County, where she shared her story and called out for women to believe in themselves and achieve their dreams. Moreover, in 2018 I received the “Young leader creating a better world" award.
FailWise: Where can we find you on social media?