By Charlotte Kugler '14
Mount Holyoke graduates rarely forget their formative experiences at the College or the overarching principle of female empowerment; in fact, they often use what they've discovered about themselves when going out into the world.
This is especially true for Asha Chaudhuri '10, who has brought her MHC experience and independence into her new business, Maya by Asha, which features iPad and Kindle cases she has designed. Chaudhuri currently runs the whole show, which includes not only making the cases themselves, but doing product photography, website design, and marketing related to her business.
Chaudhuri, who majored in art history, believes that her four years at the College helped her grow as a person and prepare for her career. While in college she studied abroad in Florence, Italy, designed two independent studies as a senior, and participated in three internships. She greatly appreciated being able to get involved in a wide variety of activities and interests at Mount Holyoke. Throughout all of them, she developed the critical thinking skills that she uses today.
"MHC allowed me to explore opportunities that weren't necessarily related to my studies or even related to one another, and I realized that I don't have to be confined to one specific path to succeed," Chaudhuri says.
Being a part of the College's diverse community also taught her about the importance of being herself, a value that she draws upon in her business.
"I use my own Indian background in my products," she explains. "I found a way to take the fabrics full of rich, vibrant colors representing my Indian culture and bring them here in a way that works well, incorporating them into the everyday culture of the West. It became something special from my heritage that I was able to weave into the multicultural American lifestyle here."
In addition to her Indian heritage, Chaudhuri celebrates female independence in her work: "The ideas of the independent woman, female creativity, and self-expression are involved in my products, since my cases and accessories are designed by a woman and made for a woman."
She hopes to set an inspiring example for other women with the success of her business. She believes in the importance of having many experiences in life and always being open to learning more.
"Women should take advantage of as many opportunities as possible, whether it's taking classes outside their majors, pursuing independent studies or internships, or studying abroad," she advises. "I definitely didn't imagine myself where I am today back in school or even when I graduated. I have found that it's completely possible to do what you love while working in a practical way for a market that's out there."