Uppma Virdi

Trailblazing female entrepreneur is a first generation Indian Australian migrant

Uppma is constantly creating, constantly striving for balance and constantly conscious of her impact.

Uppma was 1 year old when her family decided to migrate to Australia from India. Riased in a  rich culture full of family events, Indian food, spices and dance - it’s no surprise that she left her successful job as a corporate lawyer to pursue her creative and ambitious dreams.

But, it’s not all fun and games. Being a first generation migrant comes with challenges and pressures. Who the community thinks we should be, who our parents think we should be and who we as individuals think we should be. The more Uppma learned about herself, the more she questioned “what does it mean to be an empowered woman and how do I embrace both of my cultures creatively””. She didn’t agree with the expectations put on her for an arranged marriage, climbing the corporate ladder as a woman of colour, gender profiling or settling for less than her goals

Uppma’s story of entrepreneurship doesn’t involve angel investors, capital raising or even a well thought out business plan. Her story is of sheer passion, authenticity and becoming the role model that she had wished she had as a young girl.. Struggling to find her feet as a first generation migrant, she was inspired  to put her Grandfathers Ayurvedic teachings into practice and share his medicinal tea blends under the business name Chai Walli. With no support from her family, who were on the side of  ‘Team Lawyer’, Uppma embarked on her business journey independently, whilst also maintaining her full-time role as a lawyer.. She hustled, she learnt, she grew, and all from a shoestring budget and around the hectic work hours of a commercial lawyer.

Years passed, and her idea of Chai Walli turned from a side hustle into a realistic business model. She then knew she needed to make a decision - law or entrepreneurship. Full of fear for the unknown, she followed her heart. She finally received the support from her family, as they hesitantly, but with love, joined ‘Team Chai Walli.’  

Uppma now leads a team of chai crusaders, has a warehouse in Sydney and Melbourne and supplies her Australian made products to leading retailers across Australia and overseas. Her idea of doing business is to challenge the way business is conventionally done - to be fair, conscious of your impact on others and yourself, taking care of your mental health and constantly challenging the term of what success means.

Uppma’s unique story and success has been shared and documented on the BBC, CNN, SBS, The Age, Channel 7, Channel 10, The Project, Sydney Morning Herald, Porsche, Forbes, The Times of India and across many other reputable platforms. She has been recognised with many awards, from being awarded the Business Woman of the Year by the Indian Australian Business Community Award, being recognised as a Woman to Watch by the Project TV, and listed as a Forbes 30 under 30.  Uppmais definitely someone to keep your eye on!

Today, Uppma embodies her values each dayand wears many hats. She is an entrepreneur (who is grateful for her lawyer background which has been a blessing while running her business!), the founder and president of Young Australian Indian Business Network, a bhangra dance teacher at Pasina Dance, a chef teaching others about authentic Indian food at Eatwith, a soccer player, a writer and a public speaker.

As a speaker, Uppma is passionate about ensuring those that have listened to her leave with seeds in their minds and a drive to make tangible positive change in their lives and the lives of others. Uppma’s message is for people to live their lives with passion, joy, balance and being conscious of their footprint.. She is driven by the need for each person, regardless of their background or culture, to embody gender equality.

We cannot rely on others to make change happen for us, that change starts from within.

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