One Whatsapp group. One discussion. One viewpoint. One online platform – and the only one of its sort – Namaste Switzerland. The decision was unanimous and instant!
There is a right time for things to click in place and take off. My dream of having an English online infotainment magazine took close to 15 years to fall into place.
I still remember that afternoon at a Cafe in Zurich, where I had the first book reading session of my debut part-fact, part fiction book, ‘The Entrepreneur’s Wife – A Survival Guide’ in Zurich. A woman with curly hair and glasses had rushed to me immediately after the reading ended, saying she needed my book and my contact number, and was in a real hurry to pick up her daughters from Kindergarten. Shortly afterwards, she connected with me for an interview for her former website. This was Keerthana. And that was the end of the story… for the moment. A few days later, Keerthana called again to ask if I’d be interested in starting a content-based website with her. I had hesitantly said, “Why not…?”
I wasn’t the only one contacted. Keerthana had thought of all her journalism and content-related connections and called them individually. Maria was the next person from a similar background. And she recommended connecting with Shinta – a passionate food blogger. Keerthana had met Manasa from the IT-sector at a previous gathering for professional Indian women and bounced the idea of a content-driven website.
Within a matter of days, I was on a Whatsapp group along with four other women who shared the same passion and enthusiasm as I did. That clinched it for me – my previous avatar as a journalist for Femina -India came to the fore with curiosity to know more… This was not just a thought anymore, but an idea that could get real – since there seemed to be a group in the making!
So here we all were – five complete strangers on one Whatsapp group.
We decided to have an online meeting. Google Hangouts, it was. First impressions were made online – although back then, COVID-19 hadn’t made virtual meetings a common reality. We decided to meet again… and again… We all had children and families so our meetings started at around 21:30 – and lasted until 4:00 am on occasion! There was zest, the enthusiasm to do something different, to create something that brought out the stories of the trailing spouses, careers left behind, new priorities, different chapters of lives here, of hobbies and passions that turned into careers, the stories of the making and breaking – and the metamorphosis of each of us here in the land of snow, chocolate, cheese – and dare I add, Bollywood!
There was a need in each of us to bring stories of people who broke the Indian stereotype, narratives that shared experiences of being in Switzerland – the highs, the lows and the ways to get integrated within a system so different from what we had back in India. Our meetings got longer. We grew tired after our normal days. Yet – once online, together, our enthusiasm never lagged!
We formalised the content structure, the topics, leads, web design, name and logo. It took time – and energy, but it was worth the effort. Then, we needed to see how we would spin it off. A plain site? A limited company? A ‘Verein’. We visited our local municipal and cantonal authorities, spoke to lawyers and start-up consultants – and finally, lay down the statutes for a ‘Verein’ – a non-profit organisation, based in Switzerland, founded by women – official and professional.
Photos! We needed faces behind the magazine shots – important to establish credibility. Courtesy of Maria’s photography skills – on a cool autumn afternoon, we met at the ETH for our first real official shoot – and our first-ever face-to-face meet-up.
Fast forward to March 7, 2017. We were all sleep-deprived, excited, nervous, tingling with the manifestation of this dream… supported by our husbands who had taken on the nightly routine of the children through our endless meetings. At the stroke of midnight, heralding March 8, 2017 – the International Women’s Day – we proudly hit the launch button and Namaste Switzerland went live! The thrill, the palpable joy sends a shiver of excitement down our spines even today – as we hit our 4-year mark! The core team continues to remain the same, with the exception of Maria, who, due to personal reasons, decided to leave the core founding team. But, she continued her association with us as our first external contributor.
Our measure of success is evident in our reach. From 4 viewers of our website, we increased to include our families and friends – and before we knew it, we were touching a viewership of close to a million, our Facebook followers also went beyond immediate friends and family to 2,366. Instagram crossed 570 followers this year. Twitter and LinkedIn were activated and showed a spurt of growth into the double digits.
And now, we are not alone. We have you – our writers, social-media specialists, columnists, and readers. The team of makers and consumers of content has grown. And as envisaged, we continue to connect, inform, and integrate – creating bonds that buzz with life and energy!
More success to Namaste Switzerland – the makers and the readers, who keep us ticking!
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed belong solely to the content provider. Namaste Switzerland does not undertake any financial/reputational/legal/misrepresentational impact or other obligations/ liabilities that may arise from the content.