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Fled Home To Escape Forced Marriage At 18, Now Aces Fashion All Over World

A sweating, panting young girl was frantically running towards railway station without money or belongings. She did not have a plan nor a destination. All she wanted was to get away from her home and family. Today, Vaishali Shadangule is the go-to designer for many of the Bollywood’s elite actress like Sonam Kapoor, Vidya Balan, Bipasha Basu to name a few. She is an emblem of self-made and has a very inspirational story behind her success.

Known for fusing western wear with traditional hand-crafted textiles, she has displayed her works in Wills India Lifestyle Fashion Week and Amazon’s Fashion Week Spring Summer 2016 Collection, there is hardly any bigger laurel that Vaishali is left to bring home. But, her journey wasn’t always a walk in the park. It took fifteen long years of struggle for her to get where she is now but she says every bit of it has been worth it.

Running away from home

Life was far away from exciting as she grew up in a conservative family in Vidisha, a small town 57 km from Madhya Pradesh’s capital Bhopal. The norm, like most of India back then, was to deny higher education to girls, and get them married as soon as you can. For generations, her family and people around them practiced the same but when it came to Vaishali they were met with resistance.

Her parents did not allow her to pursue education after college and began pressurizing her for marriage. Vaishali believed she had a flair for fabrics, was gifted, and understood colors like her artist father. She was determined not to send her talent down the drain and revolted at home. But her efforts failed to change his family’s mindset.

That night Vaishali was trembling with fear. She had made her choice of fleeing her parents, family, hometown, and everything else that tried to stifle her dream. It was 3 am and she opened the door discreetly, with her heart pounding, and hands empty. She took no money or belongings with her and ran towards the railway station where she was met with uncomfortable, questioning gazes of people who definitely knew her family.

She was pacing left and right waiting for a train to arrive. She did not know if she was boarding a train to Bhopal, the nearest city, or Mumbai, the maximum city. As soon as a train stopped, she boarded it and breathed a sigh of relief to be getting away from a place which felt like a prison to her. Vaishali knew her destiny cannot be written by her family members, but by herself.

Earning Rs 500

Food, shelter, and source of income. Vaishali did not have any which put her survival in danger. She spoke to people for help, roamed around offices and finally landed a job as an office assistant against a monthly salary of Rs 500. She had to manage all her expenses with it and even fuel her dream of studying fashion designing.

Vaishali enrolled into a small fashion institute for a short duration hoping to hone her skills. She had the much-wanted freedom but her choice to flee home had made her life very tough. She was constantly struggling to meet her ends meets and during this struggle she was unable to pay her fee on time. Her dreams shattered when the college cancelled her admission.

In the few days when she could attend the classes, she quickly picked up a few stitches and learned some cuts – enough to make her own portfolio. She was attending fashion seminars whenever she could and also made a few friends who would give her their fashion syllabus. Inch by inch she was making progress and every little progress boosted her confidence.

Moving again

In 1999, Vaishali found work with a Bandra-based garment export house who were willing to pay her Rs 11,000 monthly. This was a major success for her as this job enabled her to move to her dream city Mumbai. Things finally were looking bright when she developed a slip disc problem and remained bedridden for months. all her savings went in paying medical bills.

After recovering she was pushed towards fitness and wanted to get a flavor of her childhood dream of becoming an athlete. She joined a nearby gym as a trainer which placed her in the midst of Bollywood star. She was bubbling with enthusiasm and got a loan of Rs 50,000 with which she opened her first store in Malad. She utilized her strength of swimming against the tide and presented something very different from what was in the fashion.

This was the time she got married and kept on pursuing her dreams. Her one store was now taken the shape of three-storey store in a mall. Vaishali was experimenting and getting bolder with her work. She was introducing a range of fabric like Chanderi and Sambalpuri to the B-town and offering an aroma that attracted the who’s who of fashion world.

Currently, she employs around 100 people and owns a sparkling store on a sprawling 2,000 sq feet plot in an upscale establishment of Juhu. She has a fan following of her collection of traditional fabrics put together with modern and upcoming looks.

Vaishali is mother to a beautiful daughter and got in touch with her parents, made them proud with her achievements, and got reunited. She has earned name and fame because of her talent and madness to chase her passion despite parental pressure, societal expectations, and blows of destiny.

Kudos to this helluva woman. Share this awe-inspiring story, leave your comments below.

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