When American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou wrote — To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power — she could well have been describing every mother on the planet. A lioness protecting her cubs, a mate supporting her partner and a rock holding up the foundation of a home; mothers are in a category of their own! Whether its chairing CEOs’ seminars or starting their own business, here’s looking at Mompreneurs who have made their dreams a reality.
NAME: Krishnaveni Menon, 61
BRAND: Amma’s Sadhyam, which offers authentic Kerala meals comprising 14 dishes made by Reshmi and I. Every plate is made from scratch on the day of delivery.
THE BEGINNING: I moved from Kerala to Mumbai 31 years ago, after my marriage. I always dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur. On my 60th birthday, I decided to give this dream wings. My daughters, Anusree and Reshmi and her husband are my pillars of strength. We started in mid-April, 2020, when there was a huge demand for home-cooked food. As of today, we have sold close to 90 meals. And Sadhyas are sold only during weekends.
THE JOURNEY TILL NOW: We have a number of loyal customers and also get new ones via word-of-mouth. When the volume of orders is high, the entire family pitches, right from packaging to cutting vegetables an sometimes even for deliveries! Earlier, I was not as tech-savvy as I am now. Now, when the deliveries are manageable, I book the pickup, send payment links and also ask for feedback. Before this venture, I didn’t know that such apps existed, let alone use them.
MY ADVICE: Take that plunge whenever you want. There’s no right age for anything.
NAME: Sheeba Chacko, 61
BRAND: Anna’s Home Garden, which offers whole spices and homemade masalas from Kerala
THE BEGINNING: I come from a simple middle-class family. My father had a small general store and my mother had a small wood business. Being the oldest amongst four siblings, I had many responsibilities. I pursued my nursing and started supporting my family. After marriage, I moved to Qatar, where we slowly managed to get my siblings settled. I came back from Bahrain after losing my job and my confidence level hit rock-bottom. I would call my daughter every day crying, not knowing what to do for the future. One day, her friend wanted a few spices. We sent that across from our relatives’ farms. That’s when we thought of starting this as a business. The name was planned as my mother’s name is Anna and my church name is Annamma.
THE JOURNEY TILL NOW: There have been many ups and downs, but the experience has been beautiful. I have moved from Kerala to Pune to expand this business and make Anna’s a home brand. My daughter and her colleagues help with the marketing aspect. My husband supports me with the packaging and deliveries. My son, in the middle of his work schedule, also sends across product promotions to his friends and collea-gues. I am a blessed mother.
MY ADVICE: There is no age for starting something new! Always remember the story of the spider who tried seven times.
NAME: Mish Sen
BRAND: I run an Instagram page @eatswithmish (www.instagram.com/eatswithmish) and my blog, which gives instant access to quick, easy and healthy Indian recipes.
THE BEGINNING: It started as an initiative to popularise Indian cooking in the US. In March 2020, when people were stuck at home, I thought they would be open to the idea of learning a new skill and find pleasure in cooking fresh, tasty, healthy meals at home. Born and raised in Kolkata, I moved to the US for my graduate degree in Education and taught English for eight years. Though I later became a Digital Marketing Consultant, I had been developing my passion for cooking over the years. In March 2020, I combined my passion and professional know-how and transitioned to full-time blogging.
THE JOURNEY TILL NOW: From zero, I now have 27.5k followers! I focus on serving my audience and providing them with good value, the rest falls into place. I have a great Instagram family (mostly women), who love and care about me! It’s been a pretty pleasurable and rewarding experience so far and I have a community of lovely people who keep encouraging me.
My husband is fully supportive of my endeavour. Initially, I didn’t have any work-life balance as I was working about 12 hours a day - trying to learn the Instagram platform, hashtag strategy, video editing, and so much more! Now I have a much better balance and have realised it is important to take breaks for better productivity. It’s good for kids to see that you have a world and identity of your own. It makes children proud of you and sometimes they can help you behind the scenes as well. My daughter was helping me with video editing in the beginning as children nowadays are so tech-savvy. She also helped me with research and other aspects of social media.
MY ADVICE: Show your children how to persevere through your actions as a Mompreneur!
NAME: Prerna Puri, 41
BRAND: Prerna’s Handcrafted Ice-cream offers India’s first certified gluten-free dairy ice-cream. Handcrafted or artisanal ice creams are literally made by hand in small batches. Our ice-cream does not have stabilisers, preservatives, emulsifiers, artificial flavours and colours.
THE BEGINNING: I first tried making ice-cream at home in May, 2020, during the first nationwide lockdown. My son wanted ice-cream, and to be safe, I decided to make it at home. That’s when I realised that stabilisers, emulsifiers, artificial flavours and colours were commonly used, which weren’t good for health. So I started making ice-creams with pure, natural and premium ingredients. I was so inspired by the positive feedback that I decided to be a bit professional about it. My business, now a full-grown retail brand, is present in 50 premium stores, and growing.
THE JOURNEY TILL NOW: Being an alumna of NIFT, I was an interior designing consultant before the lockdown. When my family and friends gave me positive feedback, I gained confidence. In June 2020, I decided to take it up professionally and approached Modern Bazaar, a retail premium chain in Delhi. The response has been tremendous! We now retail through premium grocery stores in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai and Pune. Our first flagship store is coming up shortly in Mumbai. Balancing work and family becomes easier when your family supports you unconditionally. It’s also important to know when to switch off from work every day and focus only on your loved ones. I simply love this new avatar of being a Mompreneur and mother simultaneously. It is a tedious yet very fulfilling role.
MY ADVICE: Be fearless! Life’s too short to over think things and wait for the perfect opportunity.
NAME: Razia Kazi, 31
BRAND: Rozhub Naturals, which offers handmade organic soaps, herbal face and hair care packs, essential oils, lip balms, etc.
THE BEGINNING: The idea originated from my daughter who made home-made soap — courtesy a YouTube tutorial — for a school project. She used commonly-found kitchen herbs. Soon after, I met my cousin who was managing an NGO which worked towards women’s empowerment. Being from an e-commerce background, I could create a monetary opportunity by selling their products online. And that’s how Rozhub Naturals was born in 2020: To sell handmade soap and beauty products made by underprivileged women. The name was derived from ROZGAR and Business HUB.
Despite being born in a typical Muslim orthodox family, I was blessed to have progressive parents. Though married at 18, my husband and my in-laws have been equally open-minded. I completed my education with my husband’s support and joined an MNC with the support of my mother-in-law. One day, I realized it’s time to move out of my comfort zone. This was the start of my entrepreneurial journey.
THE JOURNEY TILL NOW: Last year we sold more than 10,000 units of soaps. We added more products like vegan lip balm and have sold more than 5,000 units in the last three months. In all this, my family has been my pillar of strength. It is not wrong to divide the work with a spouse and seek help from co-workers, especially when your child needs your attention. When you are a working mother, you create an environment which enables your family to learn endless possibilities to survive in the emerging world. Mothers are the epitome of patience and they multi-task with perfection.
MY ADVICE: There will be times in your life when your instincts tell you to do something that defies logic, upsets your plans and may seem crazy to others. When that happens, listen to your instincts.
NAME: Saumya Ahuja, 33
BRAND: MIKAMI, which offers 100 per cent organic and natural hair oil.
THE BEGINNING: Born in a joint family in Amravati, I grew up with two siblings. On Sundays, the entire family would sit down for ‘chumpis’ (hair care sessions) using homemade oils. I have always believed in carefully handpicking the best of organic and natural ingredients, which was inculcated in me by my mother, Sumita Hemrajani. Her wisdom helped me curate MIKAMI. Post marriage, I started using her formulae to make my own hair oils, as not many brands offered 100% organic and natural oils.
THE JOURNEY TILL NOW: It has been a very satisfying and passionate journey. It started with my husband being the backbone and supporting me. Each step has been a learning experience. My family has been my biggest strength and support system. I juggle between being a wife, mother, daughter-in-law, co-founder of a brand, a new-age woman entrepreneur and a leader. Juggling these roles has enabled me to accomplish my goals and boost my self-esteem. I had to change my sleep schedule to get those extra hours to focus on MIKAMI without letting my family life get affected. Being a start-up, you don’t have a big team. You multi-task.
MY ADVICE: It’s vital to learn the art of scheduling and prioritising to create a perfect balance between work and family life. There are times when I miss out on some special family moments. But I guess that’s the life of a Mompreneur.
NAME: Ritu Bhansali, 48
BRAND: Everything Mom-Made, which offers home-made skin and hair-care products
THE BEGINNING: I am a Jaipur-based entrepreneur and homemaker. I got married right after my graduation and completed my M. Com while raising three children. Later, I also taught underprivileged kids in a Jaipur-based school but left due to health issues. In 2020, my daughters pushed me to do something of my own. And that’s how Everything Mom-Made was set up. My husband is a businessman and my elder son is a lawyer. My eldest daughter left her marketing and communications job to join me. My younger daughter, a media student, also works with me. One day the girls said ‘Your brand is live. Here are a couple of orders. Please dispatch them at the earliest’. I haven’t looked back!
THE JOURNEY TILL NOW: The challenges include the dynamic business environment in the age of social media as the platform keeps upgrading and the business has to constantly align with it. But I am constantly working to be better at it! Everyone chips in two-three hours a day to help me. Starting something new at 47 entails facing challenges such as the fear of taking risks, which my daughters see as a part and parcel of this game. I have grown as a person and a professional and have let go off so many of my apprehensions. The biggest learning, however, still has to be me learning how Instagram works!
MY ADVICE: Believe in yourself. No talent is small. No skill is useless. No business is small.