Interview of Woman Entrepreneur, Matryoshka: There are more women entrepreneurs than ever before, in different industry verticals. Although we often hear about success stories and interviews of women entrepreneurs, we rarely get an inside look at the hurdles they have to go through. To change that, I started a series of interviews with women entrepreneurs and bloggers who are breaking the glass ceiling and scripting their unique story.
This week, I interviewed AanchalWadhwani (Matryoshka) who is a commercial photographer, art director, actress, model and entrepreneur. Presently, she is running a few different businesses within the creative industry.
I’m grateful for her valuable time as she shared her journey to inspire other women entrepreneurs around the world.
Puja Bhardwaj: Hi Matryoshka, thanks for being here. At the outset, please give our readers a glimpse of yourself.
Matryoshka: Hello Puja, my name is AanchalWadhwani but a lot of people know me as Matryoshka – it’s become a moniker over the years. I’m a 28-year-old commercial photographer, art director, actress, model and entrepreneur born and raised in Hong Kong.
Puja Bhardwaj: Describe your brand and the products or services you are offering.
Matryoshka: I run a few different businesses within the creative industry.
10 years ago, I started Matryoshka Studio, a photo studio covering fashion, beauty, product and advertorial projects. My team and I handle everything from art direction, model scouting, makeup artists, hair stylists up to high-end retouching, props and studio rental.
A year ago, Stage Creatives was born. It’s a creative production house covering all things visual – including photography, videography, animation, illustration, graphic design as well as website development and design. Our focus is to be a one-stop visual content production that would simplify the process, save time and bring down the overall costs from delegating to different businesses.
A few months ago, in the midst of the pandemic, I partnered with a veteran model in Hong Kong, Nikola Lines, to launch STAGE Management under STAGE Creatives. The purpose of the management is to break stereotypes and the one track standard of beauty within the industry. We proudly represent diversity and inclusivity by managing talent that features different body types, height, skin colours, hair textures, culture, body art and identities. Despite the difficulties that the virus has brought on us, we are grateful for all the opportunities we have gotten so far and are proud to share that our models have received projects with companies such as McDonald’s, Fila, New Balance and Link Reit.
I am also a co-founder at the Academy of Design in Hong Kong where design-related short courses and workshops are organized at low costs to promote the art industry in either English or Cantonese.
Puja Bhardwaj: Where does your interest in entrepreneurship come from – how did you start?
Matryoshka: I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs so I think that’s definitely helped me develop an interest and understanding of running my own business.
I was 16 and in my first year of studying fashion design. I tried hard but couldn’t get an internship placement so I decided if I really wanted to learn what it was like working as a designer, I needed to create that opportunity for myself. I started ‘Matryoshka’ as a hand-made jewellery brand, but as I developed an interest in photography, I slowly shifted the company to a photography brand and it’s still going strong!
Interview of Woman Entrepreneur
Puja Bhardwaj: What makes your brand stand out in the market?
Matryoshka: As a commercial photographer, I believe one of my strengths is my ability to combine creativity with marketability. I enjoy putting a production together that is unique but at the same time ensures the client is able to sell their products effectively and have the visuals drive interest to their brand.
As a founder of STAGE management, our strength is that both I and my partner completely understand what it’s like in the shoes of the model as well as in the shoes of a client or booker. At the same time, we are building our agency to showcase our models’ personalities – we strongly believe that models aren’t just a pretty face! We’re constantly fighting towards building a more inclusive and diverse industry through representing different ethnicities, cultures and body types.
Puja Bhardwaj: What do you think is the toughest problem for businesswomen?
Matryoshka: As a female in a male-dominated industry, the biggest stereotypical questions I am faced is whether I am able to manage my equipment and if I know about gear and lighting. I have to constantly prove myself and constantly prove I am more than capable to produce beautiful visuals for a brand. Over time, I feel like this is improving, but not fast enough!
Puja Bhardwaj: What’s a day in your life like as an entrepreneur?
Matryoshka: What I love most about working in the creative industry is that every day is different! Some days I am at the studio building sets for a shoot, some days I’m location scouting, some days I’m working at luxury locations, some days I’m behind a computer retouching images. Some days, I’m away from my life as a photographer and behind the camera as an actress and model!
Puja Bhardwaj: Who is your target audience? How do you keep your clients happy and satisfied?
Matryoshka: I work with brands, organizations, magazines and advertising agencies. Each project has different requirements, but I keep myself sensitive to new marketing and visual trends and can present creative ways for clients to market their products or brand. I ensure that my team and I deliver each project with 100% effort and final results – I believe our professionalism and working attitude makes our clients happy!
Read another inspiring story and Interview of Woman Entrepreneur: A Conversation with an Enthusiast Entrepreneur- Jessica Sosa
Puja Bhardwaj: After all this success and failure, what do you struggle with now?
Matryoshka: In all honesty, I think I have issues delegating work and because I love my job and work so much, I don’t socialize enough to meet new people within the industry.
Puja Bhardwaj: How do you achieve a balance between your personal and professional life?
Matryoshka: I’m a workaholic – I turned my hobby into a profession so I spend a lot of my off time ‘working’ as well. However, when I do enjoy spending time with my friends and family during weekends, and when I come home from work I take time to paint or watch a movie.
Puja Bhardwaj: What is your future plan to keep growing in the market?
Matryoshka: Once the pandemic heals, I’d like to explore opportunities as a photographer and actress around Asia. I’d like to work with different brands globally.
Although our talent management is new and we’ve got so much to develop on, I’d like to see us grow into a recognizable name that represents unique faces and professional talent.
Puja Bhardwaj: What is your favourite quote?
Matryoshka: A quote that my dad always repeats to us at home- ‘Be the change that you want to see in the world’ by Mahatma Gandhi.
It resonates because growing up as a minority in Hong Kong has had its difficulties, let alone being a female in a male-dominated industry. However, the biggest change I’ve initiated is starting the management to represent diverse talent and models from different countries. We’re trying to initiate a different perspective within our industry and change the narrow beauty standard!
Puja Bhardwaj: What piece of advice would you give to emerging woman entrepreneurs?
Matryoshka: Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams, no matter how big you may think they are! If you really believe in it, you will find a way!
Puja Bhardwaj: Again, thanks for your time Matryoshka, it was great talking to you.
Matryoshka: Thank you too, I also enjoyed a lot!
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Interview of Woman Entrepreneur, Matryoshka
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