Two’s Company. They first met in 2003 and worked together for a short period. But it took a while before Rupali and Dhiren Sharma realised they were meant to be.
“Our first meeting was ‘Bollywood style’, to put it accurately. Dhiren led the team I had joined, and after a brief introduction, we were breaking up for a lunch break. And then someone called me, and I turned around, and Dhiren was right behind me, and saw me and fell for me immediately,” Rupali narrates step-by-step their ‘love at sight’ saga .
In 2008, the two tied the knot. “Dhiren was quite sure from the beginning that he wanted to marry me, so there is no filmy journey from ‘I love you’ to ‘I want to marry you’ as one would expect.
He just said he wanted to marry me and I also felt that we have the connection to make it work.”
Dhiren is more methodological, while Rupali is purely instinctive.
"Opposites attract and how true is that,” exclaims Dhiren,
“Where I fall short, her personality traits make up for it. What we have in common is that we both are very passionate people,” he adds.
From being life partners they also became business partners on launching Aegte, a homegrown skincare brand, in 2018.
“Running a company is not so different from running a family. In both, we took up a few roles and fulfilled them. We defined our roles and helped each other out wherever needed. That is how our personal compatibility has helped us to run this business,” shares Dhiren.
Being first-generation entrepreneurs, the challenges were numerous. For instance, they had to invest all their savings in starting the brand.
“We had to work on a ‘light-asset’ model that didn’t give us the freedom to hire a lot of people. So, we did a lot of things hands-on. Dhiren packed the orders for the first few weeks, and I ran the marketing campaign myself,” shares Rupali. But this was just a start. “Patriarchy in our culture is a big challenge.
My son was very young when we started, so I would take him with me on my meetings. But I was not taken seriously and my capabilities were doubted as to how I would I be able to handle the business along with a child. When we launched our first product,
‘Aegte Onion Hair Oil’, onion hair oil was not a trend back then. But we made it so famous that we could not fulfil the supply.The gap in the supply chain gave room for competition to copy our idea, and now every other brand has Onion Hair Oil,” adds Rupali.
While work is important, the couple makes sure to keep business and home matters separated. “We love to wrap our work by the end of the day and spend time with our kids. We are still hands-on parents. I always help my daughter with her studies, and Rupali is like her friend.
I am the best buddy for my younger one and Rupali is still the mother running after him, trying to feed him,” shares Dhiren. With a company to run and a family to take care, the two still make sure to find time for each other. “We go evening walks, watch movies, chat about things and just stay together. During this personal time together, we try to avoid talking about the business and just focus on ourselves,” concludes Dhiren.