Welcome to yet another edition of the Times Of Amma Mompreneur series where we talk to mothers who have transformed their passions into money-making ventures.From online jewellery stores, to handmade craft collectibles to potential actualizing workshops and much more. We hope that their accounts of the highs and lows of their entrepreneurial journey will inspire other mothers to hold on to their dreams and follow them through.
Today we speak to Shruti Katyal, a software engineer who reinvented herself with an online boutique that specializes in Indian Nursing wear- O' Happy Sunshine. Currently based in the US, Shruti is supported by her mother and mother-in-law who help with the production and shipping that takes place from India.
You can check out her business here and follow it on Instagram here.
From a software engineer to creating a comfortable and stylish Indian
nursing wear brand - As a little girl had you ever imagined that you
would be working in fields as diverse as these? What did you want to be
when you grew up?
As a little girl I always had a thing for crafts and my mom often used to involve
me in creative projects she did home like hand painted bedsheets and curtains
and candles and so on. Coming from a typical middle-class family where the only
two options kids had were to be a Doctor or an engineer, My elder sister wanted
to be a doctor so my parents chose the other card for me. Also at that time the
technology jobs looked promising so that made sense to me as well.
Honestly, I had never imagined myself designing clothes but yes at work I have
always been looking for problems and creative ways to solve them. So the
entrepreneurial spirit was always there.
What inspired you to create O’Happy Sunshine?
My daughter Sahana, she is the reason behind O’HappySunshine. Nursing her in public was one of the major challenges I faced especially in Delhi, it is so crowded wherever you go to make a new mom feel so intimidated. When I started looking for nursing solutions available in the market, all I could find is nighties. It was like being given two choices – stay indoors and take care of my child or start formula feed for her. And knowing the advantages of breastfeeding, I was pretty sure I was not giving up just because of this. So I designed clothes for myself and it took away my major worry when stepping out with my baby.
Have things gone according to your business plan?
Honestly, I did not have great plans when I started, the only plan was to design a solution for new moms that helps them integrate breastfeeding into their lifestyle.Being a software engineer I was able to set up the store myself and I was very surprised how quickly it gained popularity through word of mouth and the reviews from my customers.
What were the challenges you faced in setting up the business?
There were a lot of challenges at the beginning, it was just like another baby who needed lot of time and attention. Now that I look back the list is long, every step starting from procuring fabric to finding tailors and then getting the perfect samples ready has come with a lot of hurdles. Initially, I was the one doing pretty much everything - from designing to packaging, handling the orders, customer queries,order tracking and being the model myself. But I believe whatever you do,wherever you go life throws challenges at you - big and small. And how we deal with those make us. The risks and chances you take become the stories you tell and those you don’t become regrets of a lifetime.
Who was your biggest support while transforming your passion into a business?
My husband helped me kick start O’HappySunshine, he often believes in me more than I do. And then both my mother and mother-in- law have been a rock support during my journey. And now they are pretty much running the show.
Tell us more about your unconventional team.
After the initial few months of launching my store, the number of orders started
to increase and I was amazed when my mother and mom-in- law joined me in
my venture. Both are very strong women with strong business acumen. I love
to see both of them a very enthusiastically handling their roles. They are
perfect examples of how it is never too late to follow your dreams.
What has been the highest point/happiest moment in your
entrepreneurship journey so far?
I still remember waking up with happy tears in my eyes when
O’HappySunshine was featured in yourstory.com. And few months later I was
invited for a Tedx talk at VIT Vellore and that has been the highest high in my
entrepreneurial journey so far. It reinforced my faith in myself and my idea and
the fact that if you move confidently in the direction of your dreams and live a
life the way you have imagined to, you will meet success unexpectedly.
Could you give us a glimpse of your typical working day?
Last year my husband got relocated to US, since then my mother has been
taking care of everyday activities of shipping out orders and my day usually
starts after putting my kids to bed.
Would you say that being a mom is advantageous or disadvantageous as
far as starting a business is concerned?
I think there is definitely more time at hand before you have kids but in my case
the whole idea came after I became a mom myself. I think having a baby made
me sharper, more effective and more interested in the world around me. I know
how to get my work done with a lot more focus in much less time.
Most mothers are expert multitaskers. As a business woman and expat
mother of two when is the most you have had to multi-task?
I have been an expert at multi-tasking even before I started O’HappySunshine.
Though I am able to get a lot of things done but I often end up feeling very
exhausted. Off late I am learning to slow down and focus on the task at hand.
What is the one piece of advice that you had received while setting up
Being your own boss sounds very exciting but it does get challenging and
that’s when you think – Do you really want to go ahead.
The best piece of advice I received was to start small, if I had waited long
enough to set up a huge manufacturing unit or hire professional tailors, I would
have never started.
What has your favourite piece of client feedback been so far?
All my feedbacks are my favourite, honestly, I hold every piece of it special to my
heart because they push me to keep going despite the challenges. Knowing that I
brought a smile on the face of a new mom and her little one is something I live for.
But if you ask me to pick one – it would be this one
"You have no idea how many times I have been blessing you and your venture. The kurtas
have been a big big help to me in feeding my baby hassle free. The kurta was very
comfortable recently we were on our first international trip with my 8 months old. One day he was not well and didn't take any solid foods. it was the kurta which made me Nurse in Public wherever we went. Every time I have fed my baby while travelling, my husband has exclaimed "Smart that you bought these kurtas".
Shruti, thank you for your time! We love how your enterprise has made life simpler for many a new and nursing mother. We wish you and O' Happy Sunshine, all the very best. Thank you for empowering other Indian Mothers and arming them with tools to face the challenges of motherhood on their own terms.
If you are an Inspiring Mompreneur or you know someone who fits the bill, get in touch with us here or on Facebook.
For more conversations with inspiring Moms and a dekko at Team Times Of Amma behind the scenes, follow us on Instagram.