Breaking Barriers with Grit

by Akankshya Mahapatra

Rekha Chinnary, Managing Partner, Kanak Mahalxmi Jewelers

Not even the mightiest force can pause a woman who is determined to rise and shine. Having said that, the path to her success is strewn with hurdles galore. You have entrenched patriarchy, gender pay gaps and workplaces that don’t treat women on an equal footing with men. To break the glass ceiling isn’t easy. Many women, however, with their grit have broken barriers and overcome all odds in their dogged pursuit of success. The professional journey of Rekha Chinnary, an aerospace engineer turned jeweler embodies this truth.

Rekha Chinnary, Managing partner – Kanak Mahalaxmi Jewellers

She has not only battled personal odds in life but also left behind a glittering trail in the world of jewellery. Rekha is the Managing Partner of Kanak Mahalaxmi Jewellers, one of Odisha’s leading Jewellers specializing in latest designs of contemporary traditional and fashionable ornaments made in Gold, Silver, Diamonds, Platinum and other precious stones. “Selling jewellery was in my blood. My mother, Jayalaxmi Chinnary, used to retail gemstones, pearls, crystals, etc to jewellers, who visited our home from far off places. Subsequently, she took the plunge with the help of my father, CV Rao and started Kanak Mahalaxmi Jewellers, a small shop in Ravi Talkies, Bhubaneswar in 2003. The brand name was inspired from Kanaka Mahalakshmi, who is believed to be the personification of Shri Lakshmi and the presiding deity of Visakhapatnam locals. Buoyed by the positive response, the brand grew from strength to strength with each passing year. After four years, we permanently shifted to Rajmahal square, the heart of Bhubaneswar and since then, Kanak Mahalaxmi has been synonymous with outstanding designs, exquisite workmanship and impeccable purity”, she reminisces.

Kanak Mahalaxmi Jewellers

Born in the holy town of Puri, Rekha always dreamt of becoming a doctor during her childhood days. Gradually, she developed interest in aircrafts and studied avionics engineering in New Delhi. After completing her education, Rekha got placed as aircraft maintenance engineer and even worked for Odisha CM Naveen Pattnaik’s aircraft for a brief period in Bhubaneswar before shifting her base to Bangalore where she worked in various capacities in the aerospace industry. She also worked for a leading global data storage brand as senior technical writer. Everything was going smooth until an unsavoury incident dented her progress and turned her life upside down. She took a sabbatical from her professional career and returned back to Bhubaneswar. Backed by her parents’ support and her strong will-power, Rekha decided to start her life from scratch.    

After a brief lull, Rekha made up her mind to foray into the jewellery business. Thus, the mantle of Kanak Mahalakshmi Jewellers was passed on to her early last year. And since then, Rekha has never looked back. When Rekha joined the family business, Kanak Mahalaxmi was already a revered brand across the state and outside. In just over a year, she not only steered her family business to enviable heights but also took the lead to bring in new innovative jewellery designs to the state. What is even more surprising is that she could master the nitty-gritty of the jewellery business without any professional training or guidance. “When I started off, it was indeed a huge challenge to outline the roadmap for Kanak Mahalaxmi which had already established itself in the jewellery domain. As they say, where there is a will, there is a way. I was determined enough to take the brand a notch above and counter every challenge that comes my way,” said Rekha who had been awarded by various prestigious forums and organizations for her contribution to the field of jewellery. Today, Kanak Mahalaxmi houses the largest and complete collections of light weight BIS certified Hallmark gold jewelry, silver, diamond, perfectly suitable for every occasion. Besides, Rekha manoeuvred her expertise and experience in the corporate world and initiated the corporate gift segment that ushered in huge success for the jewellery brand. From gold and silver coins, articles to customized blister & box packing, Kanak Mahalaxmi has emerged as the favorite destination for high-profile corporate gifting. Also, Rekha has strategically placed her brand among the customers by initiating numerous media campaigns across print, electronic and radio platforms. Currently, Rekha is ably supported by her younger brother, Viswanath Chinnary, who takes care of the gold, diamond and platinum segment of the jewellery brand.

Kanak Mahalaxmi Jewellers lounge

After steering her brand to the zenith of success, Rekha has kept her eyes firm on her next venture named Zevr Collections. Zevr, the online jewellery arm of Kanak Mahalaxmi aims to make beautiful jewellery accessible to everyone. Customers can select a range of exquisite craftsmanship of beautiful jewellery designs in the diamond, platinum and sterling silver segment at Zevr. Apart from jewellery, customers can have access to filigree jewellery or filigree customized products under the brand Udra, a first-of-its-kind endeavour in the state. To augment a hassle-free online shopping experience to customers from across the country, the jewellery would get delivered at the doorsteps on time.  

Though the pandemic affected our lives and businesses around the globe in unimaginable ways, Rekha used the lost time to introspect and look upon various other business plans for Kanak Mahalaxmi, that clocked pre-covid sales post the unlock phase. Unlike other jewellers of her ilk, Rekha believes in empowering and educating the customers through in-depth product knowledge. Therefore, one can find her presence at the store almost everyday interacting with the customers with the same enthusiasm and energy.

Rekha also has a leaning for philanthropic activities. She not only finds pleasure in supporting various social causes and also motivates her staff and employees to do their bit for the society. From supporting the weavers’ and transgender community and acid attack survivors to being associated with different social organizations, Rekha has left an imprint as a selfless human being with a golden heart. “Giving is not just about making a donation. It is all about making a difference through your efforts. We as responsible citizens, should come forward and contribute generously in some way or the other towards the society to make it a better and happy place to live in,” opined Rekha, who will soon start Kanak Mahalaxmi Foundation, a non-profit organization for the uplift of the distressed and underprivileged. During the pandemic phase, Rekha has been part of several online webinars wherein she has delivered talks on woman-centric issues. 

Notwithstanding her chock-a-block schedule, the illustrious jeweller loves spending time with her family, especially her daughter Akshara. Listening to music is her favorite pastime. If given an opportunity, Rekha has expressed her desire to mentor aspiring women entrepreneurs of the state. 

On a concluding note, Rekha aspires to see women taking a leading role in the jewellery circuit. “Jewellery continues to remain a male-dominated business. With vast avenues opening up and looking at the potential the segment holds, more women should come ahead and take the segment further,” she says.

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