Inspiring Mompreneur: Arthi Ramaiah
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 talk to Arthi Ramaiah, a software engineer who found her passion in transforming the vivid imagination of children into beautifully illustrated, high quality books. You can learn more about her publishing company, 'Bubble' here and follow her on Instagram here.
From a software engineer with a career in advertising to creating a service as unique as Bubble- 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?
You’re right - by education I'm a software engineer. From pretty early on though (high school), I knew I wanted to build a career in a creative field. So, straight out of engineering college, I followed my passion and found a job in event management. A few years in, I returned to school and completed a masters in Advertising in Australia. Upon graduating, I returned to India and spent several years in the advertising industry, working across digital and print media with several clients based in the Indian cities of Bangalore and Hyderabad. While I’d love to say it was all part of the plan, to be honest, the diversity is not something I ever imagined. What inspired you to create Bubble?
The idea for Bubble came to me about 2 years ago. While I can’t claim that there was a flash in the pan moment that sparked the idea, the decision to give it a go was quite quick. As for the inspiration, I’d say that was motherhood. At the time, my daughter was a year old and my perspective to everything had changed dramatically. My interactions with toddlers and little kids, in particular, drew my attention to how almost all of them had something magical or imaginative to say or write. The idea excited me enough to start doing some research; a few weeks in and some conversations with friends and family and I took the call to start. Have things gone according to your business plan?
Broadly, yes. More importantly, I think the business plan has flexed enough to allow me to continue to prioritise my daughter above all else. At times when she has needed me, things have fallen back on the overall business plan, but nothing that I would change along my journey to date. It has been challenging and very satisfying. What were the challenges you faced in setting up the business?
1. Time: finding the right time to work while being a full-time mother is a challenge 2. Remote operations: during setup I was living in London currently and my team and customers were and continue to be dispersed globally; designing a seamless model that integrates the various moving parts was a challenge 3. Courage to start: the decision to start was a significant moment – getting to the decision to start however was a challenge as it demanded a level of self-awareness and commitment that I had reserved only for motherhood at the time
Who was your biggest support while transforming your passion into a business?
My husband, brother, parents and my friends! They have collectively been my rocks throughout - motivating me to start the business and then helping with execution. I’m lucky to be surrounded by very talented people - each person’s professional expertise and network has helped me immeasurably in several ways and at specific junctures during the early days. For example, developing and testing the business model, designing the brand identity, setting up digital marketing plans and of course spreading the word – each have had a special person helping and chiming in with ideas and execution support. Tell us more about your team.
Bubble currently has a lean operating model – we work and collaborate with a team of extremely talented freelance illustrators. Depending on the type of the book, i.e. style of illustrations, we collaborate with the appropriate illustrator. We also have a great printing and shipping partner based out of Bangalore and that’s really the entire team. What has been the highest point/happiest moment in your entrepreneurship journey so far? One of our early books had a 7-year-old reacting to a surprise unveiling of the book as… “My name is on the book Amma!! I can’t believe it... I’ll show it to Nidhi and all my other friends Amma!” ... That reaction validated everything I wanted the service to enable – drive kids to explore their imagination and write more often, make what would’ve otherwise been trivial act into a life-long memorabilia and most importantly foster a sense of pride in the child for their creativity!
Could you give us a glimpse of your typical working day?
The day starts at around 10 and is awash till around noon for morning routines with my daughter. Work is interspersed with play time with her till around 3. But the most productive hours of the day are between 3 and 6p when she takes her afternoon nap. I have found myself pulling off the odd all-nighter, but overall, I keep things flexible to ensure I’m not compromising on time that I would otherwise have dedicated to the family, friends or home. Would you say that being a mom is advantageous or disadvantageous as far as starting a business is concerned?
In my case, it has not only been advantageous but also the driver behind starting one. Recently, we were working on an adorable story and the illustrator’s interpretation of a frightening creature was a fruit. My mommy senses immediately rang a bell that portraying a fruit negatively might cause the child to dislike it – something that I am not sure I would’ve fully appreciated prior to having the daily struggles of ensuring a balanced diet for my daughter. 1Most mothers are expert multitaskers. As a business woman and expat mother of one when is the most you have had to multi-task?
Yes indeed! So much so, that you appreciate your own multitasking moms more than ever! I guess it’s a gift that you get post pregnancy (or perhaps just basic human survival instincts). I had to notch it up most when the brand identity and the production operations were being setup. During this phase my daughter was just over a year old and I wasn’t keen on the nanny or day care options. Six months later, processes were falling in place and demanded much less active intervention. These days I dedicate a significant amount of time on developing the books and creating that lasting impression on the child’s mind. What is the one piece of advice that you wish you had received while setting up your ventures?
When I decided to start the venture, there was a lot of excitement over the idea. Though I knew that it was going to be slow progress, I wish there was someone around to tell me to treat Bubble like a baby and give it the time it deserves to grow. What has your favourite piece of client feedback been so far?
All their reactions are priceless – it’s so much fun. But, to pick a few, the one I mentioned earlier and another one where a 10-year olds reaction on seeing the book was “It’s the best birthday gift ever…. I am speechless!! Thank you so much”
Thank you, Arthi for bringing so much joy to children and their families by giving life and colour to their imagination. We wish you and Bubble, all the very best.
Editor's note : 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.