Monday, March 06, 2023

Vanakkam from Chennaigaga's Co-Founder and Owner. My name is Sujata Tarakesan. Check out the website and brand here:

Do you know? I have run Chennaigaga for 13 years now. First of all, I cannot believe that I have been at one thing steadfastly for 13 years (which I just wrongly typed as 30 and backspaced the hell up. THAT post is for another time -- in 17 years, to be precise! :))). 😊 
Before you judge, I make this statement about sticking with this one thing because of the number of setbacks I have faced with it quite single-handedly -- both personally and professionally.

I have gained a helluva lot of experience, witnessed first-hand the sheer joy of mirroring the customers' happiness, and engaged with thousands of people through these years with Chennaigaga. I have also acquired more knowledge in the zone I work in, empathy towards people and situations, the warm friendship and unconditional support of many of our customers, and a deep understanding of the word 'consequences'. 😂 

Doing something for the first time which others didn't get around to -- ie, making Chennai themed t-shirts and merchandise thereby providing people with souvenirs they had always wished were available for Chennai city, is the biggest and plumiest feather in my cap. 

I do however, have mixed feelings. I've suffered losses in people, partnerships and money in these 13 years. Some losses are forever while others can and will be replaced. 

Business (micro or macro) changes you as a person. You evolve. And there's no going back after that to who you used to be. And it shows in my eyes, in my face, in my persona. It's time and experience. I have no intention of botoxing my way through anything and so, in a nutshell, I have aged a lot. Especially since Covid hit. That was below the belt. 

This had to be said. I need it out of my system. We were re-christened twice. Each was better. At first, we were The GAGA Shoppe, a multi-branded but predominantly Chennaigaga store in Besant Nagar. And then we were Chennaigaga(R) - The GAGA Shoppe on TTK Road. And THEN, we were the FIRST OFFICIAL CSK SUPERSTORE at the same location. That's the time Life showed us how GOOD it could have been for 12 days before the Covid pandemic shut us and everything else down! Things came to a standstill. 

As for me, after being a bustling individual rushing between motherhood things, home-making, shop-management, people-management, creative concepts, marketing and sales, hearty customer engagements, statutory work and more ... to staring at the ceiling completely lost. During the first Lockdown of 2020, I cooked, cleaned, walked, did what I could online with no scope of daring to dream further. I listened to birds chirping a lot and wondered whether they had chirped before the lockdown also! That's a peek into my urbanised life. I LOVE greenery, the mountains and the ocean and I love gazing at high res pics of all the beautiful birds and animals. I LOVE trees and bushes and shrubs. I always prefer a holiday in the hills, to disconnect from the digital life and daily routines and reconnect with Nature in a purer form. But the lockdown was not the time for that. It raised my anxiety. As SOON as they allowed us to open stores, I dashed out of the house, got the store cleaned up and masked myself and my 2 support staff up and got back to work. It wasn't just about Chennaigaga, I also had to keep the CSK flag flying high. But that just wasn't the year for either CSK or retail in general and so, we had to shut the physical store in December of 2020. The 2021 surge in the deadly pandemic pushed my anxiety to depression. (I know I am not alone in this plunge but this is my post and I am unable to stop myself typing this stuff all out now.) Nothing looked possible. Every effort was blocked. Multiple workshops, gyans from online business Gurus and boosts from close friends to help me sustain Chennaigaga didn't really work. It was me. My spirit had cracked. 

End 2020, when they ripped the name boards off the walls outside the store and pulled the hangers and fittings off the walls inside the store, I had to stand there and supervise and dispose of stuff. Dismantling, disengaging, disconnecting. I had to let my truly well-trained shop staff go. We helped them find alternatives as best as we could, but it was hard. I did put on a brave face using the phrase 'practical decision' a lot, but it was tough. I, who had sat stoic through my beloved father's funeral when I was 22, called upon that weird numbness to get through the process of closing the store down. It was not an old store we were closing. It was in a brand new 'Chennai & CSK' superstore avatar, but the losses were huge (for me as an individual) and so, it had to be a cold, hard decision. One I am not allowed to regret because that was the only practical way forward. I was and am, lucky to have the support of beloved customers, friends and family who helped in different ways and continue to help till date, even as I type this and I hope I do justice to all that unconditional support one day very soon.  

Anyway, that all said, on a deeply personal note, what I love most about Chennaigaga is that I am not bored with it at all. And I'm banking on our customers feeling the same way(!). I love most of the designs we have come up with. I love the way people engage with the brand. I love the way they come back for more. I love their involvement and feedback. I love their patience when we are not being all that we could because of financial difficulties. I love their support and their emotional connect because it helps me carry on in search and hope of a brighter future. There's still so much to be done at Chennaigaga. As a brand, it's only now a teenager. A lot of shaping up and channeling our strengths in greater ways is happily prospected. 

All we need is a like-minded investor...or two. 

You may think "Oh, investment -- well, this is The Story of all businesses"? 

Maybe, but we have a wonderful USP, a powerful niche and proof of a rich customer history in our records, as well as 'social proof'. So, this is me telling the Universe that this wholly-woman owned business is going strong in creativity and operations and needs money in funding and reserves to march on, to get bigger and better with super-exciting prospects still hidden up our sleeve. 

Email me at if you would like to be a part of our growth journey in any way.

Thanks for reading. Check out the website and brand here:

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