MS marketing graduate founds South Asian-inspired digital art company
Kajal Gajria has applied lessons learned at Lindner to Desi At Heart
By Jillian Holness
Working in the field of business is more than just crunching numbers and creating spreadsheets. The diverse courses at the University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business have allowed alumni to confidently pursue their career interests and explore creative outlets, including fashion, art and design.
An exemplar for this pathway is Kajal Gajria, MS ’20. Last year, Gajria started a South Asian-inspired digital art company, Desi At Heart.
Get to know Gajria and what has inspired her on her creative and entrepreneurial journey:
What made you choose Lindner?
After graduating with my bachelor's degree in business administration (at the Symbiosis Centre for Management Studies in Maharashtra, India), I was looking for a program where I could specialize in marketing and explore the field before starting my career.
The Master of Science in Marketing program (at Lindner), where I could dip my toes in different areas of marketing while also working hands-on on projects with clients, was the perfect fit for this. The fact that the program was in a gorgeous new building on one of the most beautiful campuses in the country — as well as in one of the top cities for new graduates — was definitely a plus!
What inspired you to start Desi At Heart?
Having graduated in the middle of the pandemic, I was thinking of ways to make best use of my skills and stay occupied while on the job hunt. Starting my Etsy store was a great creative outlet and became my quarantine passion project. In the process, I was also able to upskill by teaching myself basic Photoshop, Pinterest advertising, customer relationship management and TikTok marketing — all skills that I know will add value in the future.
How have your marketing classes helped you run your business? Is there a particular class that has stood out to you or one that you have found particularly useful?
If there (was) one common thread through most of my marketing classes, it was to find a way to differentiate yourself, to find your niche and unique value proposition — and use that as your guiding light. It was that lesson that helped me narrow down on what I wanted to focus my business on. Two of my favorite classes of the program were Branding Strategy and Consumer Insights. Those classes helped me empathize with the audience and build my brand.
Through my venture Desi At Heart, I create South Asian-inspired digital art. Besides the fact that this is a large part of my personal identity, I had also recognized the lack of options to buy personalized and unique artwork that would be relatable to a specific cultural group of people. I identified my target audience and created products that would be relevant to them. Though not a "need," I could create a "want" for the products (for) consumers who recognize how important representation is.
What advice would you give to business students who also want to pursue creative ventures?
Pursue something that you’re truly interested in and passionate about! As cliché as it sounds, that will motivate you to keep pushing when you face challenges in your venture. Once you have an idea, fully explore it and do not shut it down just because it is outside your comfort zone or what you have learned in your career so far. Take it as an opportunity to get some hands-on experience in something new.
YouTube tutorials, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, etc., can be great resources when you start something of your own and are wondering how to move forward. Your background in business and marketing gives you a great foundation and multiple building blocks. After that, you should let your creativity take the reins!
Featured image: Kajal Gajria/Provided.