By Anjum Choudhry Nayyar
Anhoni Patel never knew becoming a mom would spawn a new career path for her. As the mother of a 28-month-old son and a 6-month old daughter, she is the editor of an online city guide for San Francisco, her home for the last 13 years. Once she became a mom, she began to edit her second novel and started her own at-home business, called “Mrs. Patel’s Milk Makers” Patel says as Indians have been doing for centuries, her mother used her knowledge of Ayurveda to whip up a batch of bars, crunches and tea as soon as she gave birth. “As such I had a smoother post-partum healing process and did not have any supply issues in those crucial first few months. In fact, I was able to donate some of my milk to a needy mother!” We spoke to this week’s South Asian Mompreneur about the inspiration behind her business, “Mrs. Patel’s Milk Makers” and what it takes to be successful while juggling it all.
What inspired you to start“Mrs. Patel’s Milk Makers” ? What kind of gap did you see that you thought you could fill?
The bars, tea and crunches that my mother made for me after I had my children aided me tremendously and I wanted to share that healing and lactation power with other women.
So many of my mom-friends had tough postpartum periods and difficulties with their milk supply, and their struggles inspired me to start Mrs. Patel’s Milk Makers so that women everywhere could benefit from them as I did.
These ayurvedic recipes are home-based and are passed down within families between generations of women. As such I couldn’t find anything else like them – or, really, anything Indian at all – on the market. But yet there was such a need! So I decided to fill the gap.
What has been the most challenging part of starting your own business?
The most challenging part of starting the business has been balancing my time. Between my children and family, my other job and projects, my social commitments and running the household, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day!
What is the most satisfying part? What kind of response have you rec’d on your products?
The absolute most satisfying part of starting this venture is when I hear back from other women who were helped by our products. When they tell me how much milk they started producing or how much better they feel, I experience a deep sense of joy. It makes all the hard work worth it.
So far we have gotten a great response. We have a lot of repeat customers, which is indicative of both how effective Mrs. Patel’s Milk Makers can be and how pleased women have been with our products.
How do you juggle being a mom and being a mompreneur?
The hardest part of being a mompreneur is the juggling act we must all do. I make a lot of lists. I mean – a lot. I have post-its everywhere. I try to manage my time as best I can and prioritize my to-do lists.
Does your family play a role in your interest in business?
My family is very supportive. My husband has been great. He is actually an entrepreneur himself, so his insight has been invaluable. He also helped me set up my web site and design all my materials! And my mother – the Mrs. Patel’s in question – has been extremely supportive. She gave me her recipes and tips and passed on her tried and true methods. Both my parents have encouraged me to take this leap.
What do you think prevents moms from striking out on their own in business?
I can’t speak for all South Asian moms, but from my experience risk is what often prevents women from embarking in their own business. There is a lot of risk involved and it’s much easier – and practical – to play it safe. There is also the fear of failure that holds many women back. And let’s not forget that our families come first and to find the time to do anything else is many times near impossible!
Have you faced any criticism for being a working mom?
Luckily, I have not faced any criticism for working. Most of the women in my family worked and I have always been encouraged to do so as well. Of course, I no longer work full time. After I had my children I decided to go back only part-time so that I could spend as much time as I could with them. It’s a nice balance.
What advice can you offer moms like you looking to start their own businesses?
Do it! Make sure you have a viable idea, create a game plan and go for it.
On Twitter: @mpmilkmakers
On Facebook: www.facebook/mrspatelsmilkmakers