By Anjum Choudhry Nayyar
Juggling the family, a husband and a job can be exhausting, but when you love what you do, you’re inspired to do more everyday. We’re looking at South Asian mompreneurs in our next few issues of masalamommas and telling you their stories of success, challenges and all the stuff in between.
Paven Nijjar is a 32-year-old mother and wife born in Victoria, BC and raised in Calgary, Alberta. As the mother of a three-old son, Justin, she says being the COO of her own business, The Samosa Factory is no easy feat. But the satisfaction of being able to juggle it all keeps her inspired. The Samosa Factory was established in 2007, and has quickly become the favoured supplier of samosa’s to local restaurants, hotels, catering and deli businesses. We had the chance to interview Nijjar about her journey through a businessman’s world.
What inspired you to start your business?
In 2006 I was working in the Oil and Gas industry, and would often get approached by co-workers on where they could buy bulk yummy samosa’s for personal consumption. The big hearted individual I am, my instant response would be “my mom could make them, how many do you need”. After doing this a few times, I started thinking that why it that these people was weren’t able to find a good tasting samosa in Calgary. So then the research began. I went to all the South Asian restaurants in Calgary-and tried every single one. And without a word of lie-I was disappointed that none of them had an authentic homemade taste.
After I had some substance in my idea, I spoke to my mom and mother in law, and then the rest of the family, about what they thought about if we had a business that could fill the niche. This is how The Samosa Factory started.
What has been the most challenging part of starting your own business?
I believe that the most challenging part of starting your own business is knowing what your “actual” business is. It is really hard to stay focused on your goal. As a business owner, I have new ideas every minute, but the trick is to focus on one, and get really good at it.
What is the most satisfying part?
For me, it is happy customers. We have customers that have been coming to us since the first day we opened our doors for business. This makes me want to work harder every day, because if I fail, I am letting a lot of people down.
How do you juggle being a mom and being a mompreneur?
My son was about 8 weeks, when I started bringing him in to the factory. I am blessed that he is such an easy going kid. Every day is a challenge, but I make it work by picking the top priorities. I mean, my house can be a mess, laundry and toys everywhere but my husband and I make it work.
I love the fact that he will grow up seeing me be a mompreneur. That with hard work and dedication anything is possible. This honestly keeps me going. Within hours I go from being a mom to a mompreneur. Business meetings to play dates. But his smile makes it all worth it. I also am blessed with having great in laws. Again, they are huge asset to have around. They are always there to help no matter what I need.
What do you think prevents South Asian moms from striking out on their own in business?
I think most women get lost in their marriages, and then raising their families. As women, we go through a lot of compromising and changes. It is very easy to put everyone else’s needs and happiness before your own.
I would love to see more South Asian women out in the business world, because we have a lot to offer. No one else can balance being a wife, mother, daughter, and daughter-in-law, all in one day. We are very powerful.
Have you faced any criticism for working away from home?
Yes, I always hear that I should be a stay home mom, and focus on raising my son, and not worry about anything else. But I never judge the women that say it to me, simply because they weren’t able to escape the vicious circle, and do what I do. I think it takes a very strong women to do something that isn’t the norm.
Do you find you compete in your industry with your male counterparts?
As most production companies are owned by males, I think there is always that look when you walk in to a meeting. But for me, I love it, it is just more motivation to work harder. I want to be a successful mother, and entrepreneur, and I am not going to let anything hold me back.
What advice can you offer moms like you looking to start their own businesses?
The first would be, be ready to be discouraged. You will notice really quickly that people around you, are your biggest enemies. Secondly, be strong, anyone can do it. If you have an idea and you have the research, then do it.
Next, don’t be afraid to have a voice, or a thought. Dreams, and ideas are meant to be lived not buried, and lastly, just remember you can’t have everything. Pick your top priorities, and everything else will just work.
You can follow Paven on twitter at @samosafactoryca
on Facebook: www.facebook.com/thesamosafactory