With the aim to celebrate Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, let’s get chatty with a few Malayali mompreneurs. They are the superheroes who raise babies with one hand and build their business empires with the other. We had spoken to a couple of them in our Part I of our series. Here’s Part II of having conversations with Malayali Mompreneurs you should know about.
Midhila Michael – Founder, Saree Stories by Midhila
Five years, two different business models and a baby later, this engineer turned mompreneur from Kerala is making it big!
Midhila Michael, a mom to a four-year-old boy, started her venture as a fashion resale business in 2016. “My initial business model was based on sourcing apparel from various manufacturers and offering it to customers through Facebook and Instagram. Four years of reselling provided me ample time to study the market dynamics”, said Midhila. It was around that time she chose to take a break from her business and devote some time to her then one year old. “It was a phase where the baby was all over the place – running, climbing and throwing things around.” In less than a year, she was back in action with a game-changing plan for her business.
Midhila revamped her reselling business and launched her own clothing line, Saree Stories by Midhila. “The brand solely focused on sarees as those were at an all-time high on the trend scale. Hence, the name Saree Stories!”, quipped an excited Midhila who has just launched her brand website, www.sareestories.com, this week. Eventually, kurtis became her linchpin as COVID-19 struck and the demand for sarees and its movement started to plummet.
Also Read: The Millennial Twists To The Kerala Saree
“There were no events to attend and barely any opportunity to dress up. Folks started asking if we offered pure cotton kurtis for casual/office wear. And that’s how kurtis of sizes from XS to 4XL took the center stage for my clothing line. Today, we even have 136 licensed resellers operating in and outside Kerala who are selling our apparel on their social media pages.”
Photography forms an indispensable part of Midhila’s business because ultimately her customers get attracted to the apparel through the pictures that she puts up. A huge section of her customers are doctors who resort to cotton kurtis to jet through the hassled days at the hospitals. Obviously, the demand for apparel among doctors only soared during COVID due to the non-existence of a convenient WFH option.
Also Read: Violence Against Doctors: A Deconstruction
“It’s a lot of hard work and multitasking,” was Midhila’s response to how she juggles her toddler and the business. “But what makes us stand out from other businesses is that right from designing, choosing materials, photography to modelling – everything is done within the four walls of our house by my family members. That gives me a lot of flexibility to spend time with my child too. The financial part of the business is taken care of by my father-in-law who is a chartered accountant, and our stitching units, workspaces and godowns back in Palai are overseen by my in-laws. My husband is in the merchant navy but whenever he joins us, his role in supporting my business as well as attending to our son’s needs is enormous,” said Midhila.
Insta link: https://www.instagram.com/sareestoriesbymidhila/
Ninu Jacob – Owner, Tiara by Ninu
Ninu Jacob, a Bangalore based Malayali mompreneur wouldn’t really have been taken by surprise if someone told her that she’d quit a lucrative IT job to pursue a handmade business. “Because I guess, business was something I always had in my mind. I knew I always had that entrepreneurial streak in me.” said Ninu, momma to two little girls. Six years ago, she launched Tiara, a business brand on hair accessories that focuses on the art of crochet.
“Initially I kickstarted my business by offering home décor, table cloth and cushion covers. Unfortunately, that did not take off as expected. It could have stemmed from a lack of planning– I’m not too sure as to why it didn’t click”, recalled Ninu.
It was the birth of her first daughter that led her to find her true calling – crochet accessories! Ninu saw that good quality headbands and shoes for newborns were a rarity in the market, and hence set out to provide headbands, hairclips and slides for infants. And the rest is history!
“Frankly, the hair accessories business was something that happened along the way. It all started with me making headbands for my firstborn, out of interest. I was pleasantly surprised when so many of my friends showered me with encouraging words and motivated me to launch a proper business. That got me thinking – why not start a page and showcase my work? Without much ado, I kicked off with a Facebook page. Later, I felt the need to expand to Instagram to keep up with the trend and tap a wider audience.”, said Ninu. Shipping all over India, today her line of products are not just limited to infants and toddlers, but they also cater to adolescents and adults.
“When you have kids, especially toddlers, any job is difficult to manage, let alone running a business. Being a mompreneur means being on the run 24/7. The secret is to work together as a family and I am lucky enough to have one that believes in me and my sensibilities. All products in Tiara are handcrafted and finished by me at our home studio, so obviously it would be unimaginable to function without my family. I would say that my family is my nucleus. ”, said Ninu, the Malayali mompreneur from Changanacherry.
Insta link: https://www.instagram.com/tiarabyninu/
Minisha Arun – Founder, Décor Diary by Minisha
This mompreneur is beaming with pride as her venture, Décor Diary by Minisha has just turned one year this November. “It was lockdown that spurred the idea of an online home decor business”, said Minisha, the Malayali mompreneur who is also a B.Tech graduate. Minisha moved to a villa last August and this proved to be a turning point in channelling her inner interior designer. She started gussying up her new home in a simple yet different theme to make it housewarming ready.
“You’ll not believe the sheer amount of research I did to deck up my home. I ordered a host of cushions, bedsheets, curtains, art pieces and a variety of home décor to brighten up the space.” After all, decorating homes is not just about making them look appealing but also about expressing your thoughts through hues, colours and shapes. Minisha’s home pep-up episode gave rise to a large number of compliments from near ones that made her explore home decor as a business idea. Discovering a new passion, that too, something she recently proved her knack in, gave her the confidence to launch her business.
“Previously employed as an HR manager, I was happy with the job I had, but there was a monotony that kicked in during the eight-plus years of doing the same duties. Nonetheless, sometimes I wonder how I made it through those months of lockdown, with a day job that extended till 7 pm on most days, a two-year-old who wouldn’t get off my lap and uploading products to my page after work hours. Apart from that, I had to be constantly available to attend to queries and convert potential customer enquiries into a sale. None of this was easy, but each day of my mompreneur journey was very rewarding,” said Minisha.
Décor Diary brings to you a range of home textiles such as curtains, bedsheets, cushion cover, table linen and home decors such as wall hangings, exquisite lighting, crockery etc. through their website (www.decordiary.in) and Instagram page.
“My husband is the wind beneath my wings. He suggested that I take a one year break from my job and focus on setting up the physical store. So, that’s my current project now.”, added Minisha. There were days when mommy guilt weighed hard on her. “I felt bad about missing out on all of my little girl’s milestones and not giving her round-the-clock attention. Then I remembered that what is more important is to follow my passion, succeed in it and set a good example for my daughter. My daughter should remember me not just as a woman who cared for her and raised her, but as a strong woman who built her career while being a great mother to her. I want her to be proud of her mom!”
Insta link: https://www.instagram.com/decordiarybyminisha/