Twenty-six-year-old Upasana Makati’s Pinterest profile reads: “An Indian classical music lover, a dreamer, a Canadian by heart, an emotional fool with a passion to live LIFE to the fullest.” She believes there couldn’t have been a more apt description of how she feels today. Even as she’s most defined by her literary venture White Print, a Braille magazine, Upasana, a student of Jai Hind College, Mumbai, knows that it is an association she’d be happy to have for a lifetime.
She says, “I wanted to make a difference and start a venture with a socially relevant theme. At 25, I knew I could not afford to do charity so I decided to pick a career where I could do something for the society.” Her story follows the journey of the disgruntled startup head. As is the case in most such ventures, the birth of her project was a result of a sad realisation and a burning desire to take a rarely chosen path. She had a cushy job as a public relations executive that followed a three-year mass media course. The idea for White Print, like most brilliant ones, was something she just stumbled upon.
“One day I was just lost in my own thoughts and somewhere through that process, I found myself counting the number of magazines that were available. I would’ve listed almost 50 of those. Then somehow, I thought about what options are at hand for the visually impaired. I couldn’t name even one. It hit me in my gut and I soon began researching about magazines for the community. Three months into my research, I decided to quit my job and commit myself to the venture,” she says.
Ask her how difficult it is to be a woman entrepreneur and pat comes the reply, “Being a woman was never a roadblock; I always take it as an advantage. Women have the sensitivity to deal with initiatives of this nature.” The magazine covers topics on travel, food, technology, music and short stories. The readers too are welcome to post their feedback and reactions through letters and phone calls. In fact, this is exactly how she introduced stories on movies (a visual medium) in the magazine but feedback from her readers changed her belief. She reveals, “My readers wanted to know about films, plots, concepts and themes. Though they only hear a movie, it is very much an experience for them. In fact, I have got feedback from my readers informing me that they like reading up on all the Bollywood gossip.”
Upasana’s career may have veered off on a trail of its own but she believes her educational background holds her in good stead. She says, “Having theoretical knowledge is very essential since it helps you build a great foundation. Knowingly or unknowingly you do end up using or referring to the theory you once studied in the three years of mass media or even before that in school or college. Having said that, the practical skills that each job demands cannot be learnt from any textbook. Experience can be your best tutor.”
Before you label her a studious pupil, she’d have you know that participating in college festivals actually shape a person’s personality and opens up a world of opportunities to a student. In fact, she released B for Braille, a musical short film which she hopes will appeal to everyone in the society. “Vision really is a secondary influencer between the sighted and the visually impaired. I want people to be aware of Braille literacy and talk about it. It is only when the two combine forces that we can think of a holistic future. I am a trained singer and I like singing in my spare time. In fact, the video, which was released recently, had tunes sung by me. If I am not singing, I am listening to new artistes. Music is a very intrinsic part of my life,” she says.