Getting back to work a little over a year after my baby was born was daunting, to say the least. Initially, it was just my physical self dragging me to work, while my mental self was back home sprinting after my toddler’s hard-to-keep-up-with pace and wondering if it’s time to change his nappies. My respect for working mothers grew a hundredfold as I realised that performing the work-baby balancing act is no joke. (Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t respect stay-at-home mums; I most definitely do!) More so, when I heard of women who have followed their passion unwaveringly to launch their own venture during the advent of their motherhood. This prompted me to speak to a few Malayali Mompreneurs from Kerala who successfully chased dreams of building their own brand, all the while chasing their toddlers.
Say hello to these Malayali mompreneurs!
Tiya Neil Karikkassery, Owner and Chief Designer at T&M Signature
“Fashion was never in the scene, but I guess it was destiny”, said Tiya, as I quizzed her on her inspiration to start T&M Signature, one of Kerala’s top bridal speciality designers couture that crafts trendy, fresh and new designs for women. A gemologist by profession, Tiya’s family thought that she would walk in the footsteps of her mom, a jewellery designer. But her passion to dress people from a young age and see them in her creation carved a different path for her.
It was when her daughters were born, that she realised that along with a mother, a designer was born too. The outfits she designed for them earned rave reviews from those around her. In 2015, she launched the brand T&M, and then there was no looking back. Today, Tiya has revved up her fashion game with T&M garnering a lot of popularity and cult status among the fashion labels in Kerala. T&M’s portfolio also encompasses a wide range of gorgeous outfits designed for actresses like Nazriya, Namitha Pramod, Anushree, Rima Kallingal, Parvathy and Mamta Mohandas. They have also designed bridal attires for Bhavana, Bhama, Aileena and Priyanka Jose K Mani.
In Tiya’s words, “It’s indeed difficult to manage both my business as well as my daughters. But huge thanks to my husband and family members for walking the extra mile in supporting me to raise them. My daughters are also very understanding in this aspect and have been adaptable right from the beginning. When it comes to business, it is with the constant support of my helpers and staff that I keep the operations running.”
Check her business out: https://www.instagram.com/t.and.msignature/
Ashwini Mathoor – Owner at Ashwini Couture
“My brand is all about reflecting India’s rich heritage with a modern sensibility”, says Ashwini Mathoor, the mompreneur behind the brand, Ashwini Couture. A well-known fashion designer, Ashwini launched the bridal boutique Ashwini Mathoor in Kochi, in November 2015 to add glam to a bride with bespoke bridal couture and accessories.
A mom of a four-year-old and a two-year-old, Ashwini believes that fashion designing isn’t always about providing hand-crafted couture, but styling also forms an integral part of it. “We go a step ahead and suggest jewellery and make up for our clients. In fact, we are launching an in-house jewellery line called Mayoorika”
Having proven her finesse in fashion by being a part of Lakme Fashion Week and Vancouver Fashion Week, Ashwini has designed attires for celebrities like Taapsee Pannu and Kajal Agarwal while she was working with a Hyderabad-based celebrity designer Shravan Kumar. Her inspiration to start the bridal couture studio was her undying love for intricate embroideries, detailed embellishments, and Indian weaves and techniques, and this formed the signature elements for her brand. Her degree and PG diploma in fashion aided her in augmenting her brand value pretty quickly.
“Running a successful brand along with raising a child is an unprecedented balancing game. But then life is all about balance. A supportive partner, caring parents and in-laws are all you need to stride forward with confidence”, said Ashwini.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and having the right support system in place is indeed the secret to flourishing as a mompreneur.
Fun fact: Remember Rajisha Vijayan’s lehenga in the climax scene of the movie June (yeah, the wedding scene!)? That was a masterpiece crafted by Ashwini Mathoor!
Check her business out: https://www.instagram.com/ashwinimathoor_couture/
Maria Paul Thottan – Founder, Better Batter Cupcakery
She is one of the most hardworking Malayali Mompreneurs who is slaying her game!
Two years into a marine biologist job was all it took for Maria Paul Thottan to realise that a 9 to 5 job is not what she is cut out for. Baking was something she was inclined to do, and that was exactly what she pursued after she quit her job. “I was inspired by my mother-in-law’s bakes and so I started working on recipes. Cupcakes are what caught my attention back then”, Maria recollected.
She ventured into the cake business and launched Better Batter Cupcakery in Vyttila, Kochi, post having her first kid, and today she is a mom to two adorable boys. A large part of her business involves baking customized cakes, along with paying extreme attention to quality and flavour. Right from the get-go, she strived to provide a wide range of flavours to her clients and at the same time make it attractive as well.
“At the end of the day, even if a cake looks stunning, if it doesn’t taste good, it’s not worth it. So, I never compromise with the quality of the ingredients I use,” she added. According to Maria, being a mom is a full-time job in itself and when one works in a field that doesn’t have set hours everything can go for a toss. “Well, it really is a hustle. But with unparalleled support from my family, I handle it. A special thank you has to be given to my husband, mom and in-laws for being there when I need them.”, Malayali mompreneur, Maria said.
Check her business out: https://www.instagram.com/betterbattercupcakery/
Dr. Veena Nair – Founder, Charismomic
A doctor, a mother and an entrepreneur – all rolled into one! Dr Veena Nair launched Charismomic, an online maternity store that guides new moms all along with pregnancy through maternity wear, baby shower essentials and pregnancy jewellery, and postpartum through nursing wear, hospital and feeding essentials.
Mom to a six-year-old girl, Dr Veena, a Bangalore-based Malayali mompreneur, realized that the market had sufficient baby essentials but there was a dearth in supply when it came to mom essentials.
“A lot of people didn’t know what to look for, and even if they did, the desired items were simply not easily available. Most times, after a baby is born nobody really gives the mother her due attention and care, because the new bundle of joy is hogging all the limelight. Sometimes this sense of being invisible to others might not prepare them for the bumpy yet exhilarating ride called motherhood. This thought inspired me to venture into a brand that makes mothers feel reassured by offering them thoughtful products to ensure they are well taken care of. Charismomic is all about holding a woman’s hand and helping her sail through one of the most meaningful experiences in her life.”, said Dr Veena. The brand was incepted after almost six years of research on the global maternity wear and goods market.
Charismomic reminds a mom that motherhood is not something that should hold her back from doing the things she loves but in fact something that should be celebrated. This is exactly why they have fashionable maternity clothes, guilt-free post-delivery lactation cookies to snack on, trendy and functional diaper bags (who said diaper bags gotta look boring? 😉 )
“Performing the juggling act is hard. And there are days I feel guilty that I’m missing out on quality time with my child. My husband, Bipin is my biggest pillar, support and mentor. Without him and my family’s cooperation, it would be impossible to sail through running the business, wearing the dentist coat and raising my girl.” Dr Veena added.
Check her business out: https://www.instagram.com/charismomic/
We’ll be exploring more Malayali Mompreneurs in the coming few months. So if you know any, let us know in the comments below.