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Teen Entrepreneur Sarisha Ved on starting her sustainable e-commerce venture

Although the 16-year-old took the plunge into entrepreneurship in her mid-teens, being born into a family of successful entrepreneurs led to her early interests, as a child, to start something of her own



by

Somya Mehta

Published: Thu 17 Mar 2022, 3:27 PM

With entrepreneurship becoming a buzzword of sorts, recent years have shown us that the entrepreneurial mindset has no limits. It is about having an idea and the conviction to execute it, which takes care of the challenges that may arise. Sarisha Ved, at age 14, had a similar idea that didn’t leave her side. Founding an athleisure brand at the tender age, she became the youngest entrepreneur in a family of serial entrepreneurs. What started with a single thought of wanting to help underprivileged children turned into her own sustainable e-commerce venture, F5.

Although Sarisha took the plunge into entrepreneurship in her mid-teens, being born into a family of successful entrepreneurs led to her early interests, as a child, to start something of her own. “Seeing my parents and all of my family being into business was one of my biggest inspirations. Having parents who co-founded an omni channel retail business, it couldn’t have been a better platform for me to start my own,” says the 16-year-old entrepreneur.

Daughter of Nilesh Ved, chairman of Appcorp and Sima Ganwani Ved, founder and chairwoman of Apparel Group, Sarisha would often hear her parents discuss business ideas in their free time. “I’d be on the way to school with my father and I’d always listen to him on his phone calls, talking about work, and his e-commerce plans, when they were starting 6thstreet.com. As a teenager, I thought shopping online, having multiple retail businesses in one place, was such a cool idea. That also got me thinking about starting my own website when I started F5,” says Sarisha.

The sustainable venture, which raised Dh30,000 for children’s education in association with Emirates Red Crescent in 2021, started off as an idea Sarisha had for her school project. “In IB, we have to do a personal project. At the time, I only had this one sentence in mind. Hundred per cent of the proceeds go towards children’s education. Then I asked myself if I wanted to do this long term or just do it as a school project and finish it off. I thought, if I have an idea and I have the support, why not?”

Launched in March 2021, the initial F5 collection “Tees for Fees” donated all of its profits to support the education of underprivileged children. The brand has since expanded its product range, offering unisex athleisure clothing, phone cases, wallets and bags.

But what led to the youngster’s desire to help underprivileged children in the first place? “I went to Nathdwara a few years ago with my family to do some charity work. When we got there, the organiser told us how those children had to walk two hours from their village, and waited three hours, just to get a pen, a notebook, a pair of shoes, a blanket and some food,” recounts Sarisha.

“It made me realise that things we take for granted now is something people can only dream of. Having this amazing life that I do, there is nothing more I could really ask for except trying to change something in the world. Even if it’s just a few children’s lives, it’s a huge impact because it goes down in generations,” she adds.

While the teen entrepreneur is clear about what she wants to achieve for herself and her company, she seeks to get higher education in Business Studies and make F5 a sustainable global fashion name, advocating conscious fashion. The product range at F5 incorporates zero waste principles, using plastic and mobile cases that are compostable. Sarisha was introduced to the concept of sustainability at the age of 12, and has since been aiming to follow a sustainable lifestyle. “I had taken part in this initiative where my school tied up with this company called D grade. We would collect all the plastic bottles from our school that people would use every day, which turned out to be around 500 bottles a day. Three bottles made up one T-shirt and those T-shirts would then go to the labourers and the cleaners in our school,” she adds. “We don’t use plastic at home.”

At the age of 16, Sarisha has managed to find a way to infuse her passion with business acumen, whilst balancing her academic commitments alongside. When asked about the challenges she might have faced while juggling both these aspects, the young entrepreneur says, “There have been times where I’ve questioned whether I’d be able to run a business while being in school, and if I’d be able to hack both. But with the support of my parents, it’s been easy to stay determined.” She adds that her mother has been the constant motivation in her journey, looking up to “the way she’s able to balance both work and home, while constantly motivating women to do more and do better”.

Although social life is important for the young teen, she believes in drawing firm boundaries. “Yes, social life is important but it will not determine your future. So there needs to be a balance,” she adds. Dividing her time in both the domains, Sarisha mentions, “In school, we have something called study halls, where we’re supposed to be studying but I take those times to actually work on my brand. Or even if there’s a free lesson, my friends know they can’t come and disturb me as I’m usually checking my new lines.”

The teen entrepreneur has also encouraged her peers to partake in career-oriented job shadowing. “A few months ago, we had to do internships as part of school requirements. Four of my friends came and worked at F5 with me. Two of them created my whole website; one of them is still working on it. The other two helped me plan two marketing initiatives that we used. I couldn’t have asked for a better team right at the beginning of my journey,” says Sarisha.

The teen’s advice to all the youngsters who want to start something of their own but are afraid to do so is: “Risk is something you’ll always have to take, whether in your career or personal life. Don’t be afraid of it. Not taking risk can lead to regrets. And if you don’t start now, then when?”

somya@khaleejtimes.com


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