You never know what can help you succeed. Here is a story of a successful fashion designer who has even designed clothes for various celebrities and daily soaps as. However, she didn’t stop when she was successful. She went a step ahead and took initiativein social causes by organising various events for the special children. Neha Nimbalkar, the creative mind and brain behind Neha’s Boutique at Ram Maruti Road, is an ideal example of a powerwoman.
Can you imagine a national level kabaddi player, who got a letter to be in the police force leaving all that to become a fashion designer? Well something like that happened with Neha. “When I was young, I was really good at playing kabaddi and was a part of the national kabaddi team. I was also a double graduate. At that time, there was an advertisement for the post of Inspector for people like me. I cleared the ground test and all as well. But in the meantime, I got married and my new family wasn’t ready to let me be an inspector. So I didn’t go for the interview,” shared Neha. She was working in the private sector when she had a baby girl. Her husband, Pramod Nimbalkar, encouraged her to work from home and start something on her own.
He gave Neha and her sister-in-law initial investment and asked them to venture out in the world of business. They went to the market, got dress materials and stitched them at home. They invited their friends and neighbours to take a look. Within a week, they sold all the dresses. “My father-in-law had a small shop at Ram Maruti Road and advised us to start our shop there. A professor from National Institute of Design used to visit me and she taught me many nuances of designing. She even designed some dresses from my shop initially,” reminiscences Neha. Those patterns proved to be the runway for Neha. Neha mastered her art so well that people used to admire her clothes. Students from various fashion designing institutes started joining her boutique for internship. Actress Sampada Kulkarni and choreographer Sonia Parchure were her regular customers. In fact, Neha has designed many clothes for Sonia’s shows. Sampada Kulkarni’s wardrobe for a show were designed by Neha. She asked for her name on the television instead of money. This helped her get instant fame. She went on to design costumes for various serials and actresses like Nirmiti Sawant, Neelam Shirke, Reema Lagu and Sonali Kulkarni (Sr.) were here regular customers.
Once, one of her friends asked her to visit her school where a dahi handi programme was organised for the visually disabled children. With a curious mind she went there and was overwhelmed with the atmosphere there. This started her journey in a different direction.Then onwards, she visited them regularly, often taking some delicacies for them. It was then that she realised that they crave for appreciation as well.
“I decided to organise dance competitions, sports events for special children. I went to the Zilla Parishad and got the list of all the special schools in the district. After the research, I realised that there were more than 30 such schools. I decided to involve the children from Rotract group in this,” recalled Neha. Being a sportsperson herself, she had an idea of how the management should be and what a sportsperson needs for a tournament. This experience helped her. After three years of successfully organising these events, Neha felt the need of a celebrity to be invited to make that buzz and create awareness about these special childrenamongst the society. While talking to an acquaintance, they decided to invite Amitabh Bachchhan for it. “To our pleasure, Bachchhanji readily agreed. I wanted to show the people that even common man can do something if they have that will. We could bring Bachchhanji for the first time in Thane. He was there, dot on time,” shared Neha.
In the course, Neha realised that these children didn’t participate to win. For them, participating in a competition was more important. “Participating in a competition, standing on the podium beaming that they have completed the competition was more important to them. This encouraged me more,” she said. She regularly organises tournaments of swimming, cricket, etc for these kids.
She also organises trips for various old age homes. “The old people in such old age homes want to go out for a day and have some fun. They are happy even if we offer them a ride in a bus. We have taken them to various places in the vicinity like Yeoor, Ganesh Temple of Titwala, etc where they have some fun. At times, we organise antakshari or similar games for them at their venue too. They find it extremely happening,” states Neha. They also demand for some special menu like bhajis that they are not provided for in their old age homes and these organisers comply with it!
Thanks to her profession, Neha is associated with a lot of influential people and celebrities. Her contacts from Rotary also offer to help her. She uses all these contacts to help the special children and senior citizens in whichever way she can. “I merely act as a mediator,” she smiles.
Her professional and social work made her win ‘Thane Icon’ Award few years ago.
Recently, she published Dnyaneshwari in braille language. Since she has no idea, she asked her friend Sadhana Waze to help her out. Her formal education of Marathi Literature also helped her. “I had a paper on Dnyaneshwari. It helped me understand what NAB wants me to do and which adhyay needs to be taken care of,” she said. Publishing isn’t an easy task. Thanks to her contacts in Rotary and some different groups, she managed to get funds for this too. Since she was doing a good work, the people with whom she worked also offered to give her discounts. Two months ago, the braille Dnyaneshwari was successfully published!
Neha attributes her success to her husband. “My husband has been a man of vision. His trust in me made me what I am. He suggests me, guides me. Despite his busy schedule, he sees to it that all those with him should have his or her own identity. He guided his siblings and my siblings as well. Though it sounded like a dictator initially, we now know he has a noble heart,” Neha feels.