by Rutchi Kaushal, Founder of Inner Spice, Fellow Chartered Accountant and Non-Executive Director
From London to Perth, Western Australia - It was mid-morning. I was in my London apartment intensely waiting for a life changing text message to appear on my Samsung feature phone – it was still the 2000-era so there were no apps for checking information and receiving updates.
I remember that nervous, churning stomach feeling, and telling myself, ‘It will all be okay.’
The text message arrived with a heart-stopping buzz, and I opened it.
“Congratulations! You passed….”
Everything else in that message was a complete blur. I was now a fully qualified chartered accountant (‘CA’), and I felt this huge surge of emotion - mostly filled with relief!
My parents were the first people I called. They recognised how hard I had been working and studying to complete my qualification, so I knew it would be a fulfilling and proud moment for them.
When I reflect on this time of my life however, I now see that it was ultimately all about making them proud of me.
With my sister having followed my dad’s footsteps to becoming a doctor, and my stubborn rejection not to, I knew my parents were worried about what I would or could achieve. Following an accounting career was the next most agreeable path.
I was raised in an Indian family in England. My parents had relocated from India in the seventies, and we grew up in Kent. I have two siblings - an older sister and younger brother. My sister was the model student, I on the other hand, am a typical middle child! Deeply different, opinionated, and a little rebellious (well, as much as one could be in a strict household).
I moved from Kent to London, and whilst studying for my CA, I realised that I had this deep-rooted desire to travel and see the world. I felt that living and working abroad would be the perfect way to start that global journey.
I remember telling my family and friends, who were mostly supportive, but they never thought it would seriously happen – and neither did I for that matter! However, a job offer came up and I took the opportunity.
I had never visited Australia, nor had I heard of Perth, but I packed my bags and made the solo journey to follow this ‘yellow brick road’ despite all the disappointing and judgemental comments.
As I write, it’s been over 15 years since I relocated, and it’s been one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life.
Creating a new existence in an unknown place, with complete strangers, was a true challenge – especially as an introvert.
I forged my way through the emotions, trials, and doubts, but am also grateful for all the memories, knowledge, and self-awareness I’ve learnt along the way.
During this time, I’ve made new friends and connections; had the opportunity to travel across parts of Australasia; participated in a TEFL course to teach English in Cambodia; positioned myself as a diligent and conscientious individual in my career and industry; and most recently met my, now, husband.
My profession brought me to the other side of the world. It has taught me vital skills and given me invaluable opportunities from, working as an auditor, a financial controller, and a chief financial officer, to travelling the world, and meeting and connecting with people from various backgrounds and industries.
I will forever be grateful for my corporate career and experience, however deep down I had always felt there was something missing.
For a long time, I’ve aspired to work for myself. For years I had pictured myself working in the food or hospitality industry. Whether it was setting up a restaurant, bar, or café, or being able to share my knowledge and love for food, culture, history, and travel. I’ve always enjoyed researching, reading, and discussing these topics - and even though they’re so entwined in our everyday life we often take them for granted.
Having grown up in a home where cultural food and traditions were a part of daily life, I’ve been wanting to share my perspectives on how these topics play a vital role on humanity and the world we live in.
In 2020, I finally gained the courage to leave my stable, corporate career to follow a path that was more in line with these interests. It’s led to plenty of questionable looks and confusion from family and friends – looks, in fact, that weren’t dissimilar to when I left England.
Being a person of colour, and living in western countries, I feel we experience things from a different lens. Growing up we are automatically put into a box. A box that we must fit into by following, not just societal norms, but also cultural norms. Expectations that are not always in line with our personal goals and desires but are easy paths to follow for fear of being singled out, dismissed, or losing that sense of security, and so it takes courage to stand up for what we believe in and to break the mould.
Drowning out the noise and expectations is a feat. I’ve had to learn to step into the discomfort, and believe in myself and my choices, with or without support.
With this belief, in 2021, I founded Inner Spice. A platform for connecting people to culture through food, with a focus on spice. Spices have had far-reaching influences on the foods we eat – foods that are saturated in history and diversity, yet we couldn’t be more disconnected.
Through my classes, events, and workshops, we reimagine the use and importance of spices to improve diet, everyday cooking, and wellness, to live a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle whilst appreciating these different cultures.
Setting up a food business in, not just a niche, but also a novel market within an industry that I had no knowledge of, has been, and still is, a scary ride. It continues to be full of surprises, but I’m learning each day. I’m acquiring new skills, honing-in on established practices, and extending my business acumen in challenging and unfamiliar areas.
The business and industry obstacles aside, it’s been personally terrifying to leave behind that corporate person and past character I was for over 20 years.
Whilst I now navigate this new identity and sense of self, I grieve for that previous version of who I was. It’s been a surreal journey of self-growth and personal development that have led to deep shifts in my mindset, perceptions, and relationships, and is still an ever-changing work in progress. I’m continually shedding layers and setting boundaries that have been tough both mentally and emotionally.
Rutchi in her recent trip back home to London
Although I no longer live that tick-box life of doing what’s expected, nor am I following the path of ‘normalcy’ where there’s familiarity, safety, and certainty, I am living more of who I want to be by embracing those fears and strengthening my mindset – for me, that is true fulfilment and success.
Rutchi Kaushal on Instagram
Rutchi's five key ingredients in life are:
1. Lean into your fears and discomforts - taking risks and living outside 'the lines' (without harming others) is liberating, empowering, and life-changing
2. Change your circles and upgrade your relationships - who you spend most of your time with affects you deeply; build a community of positive, emotionally intelligent, respectful, and understanding people
3. Spend time alone - feel the discomfort of doing things independently and not relying on others; travel, go to cafes/restaurants, the movies - embrace the unsettling feeling of it and do it anyway; it's fulfilling and provides a powerful sense of self awareness
4. Say 'no' to things that don't feel right - listening to our gut and instincts can be tough, but if we start to get into a habit of noticing how our bodies feel towards certain things, whether it's people or tasks or activities, take note - this helps with believing and trusting yourself when it comes to tough decision-making
5. Develop good habits and routines for health, mind, and body - without good foundations we're not functioning as our best self, health and wellness should be top priority
Rutchi's Spice Masterclass with engineering group Peritas
Rutchi's award winning spice dips, developed for Mette is Baking.
Rutchi's clients loving the conversation and spice mix
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