By Anchel Krishna @anchelk
In 2007, Banu Khurana undertook a new business venture: creating functional products to help parents with specific tasks while maintaining a signature style and incredibly vivid aesthetic. 3 Sprouts was born.
3 Sprouts is a brand of well-priced, playful and modern storage, bath and stroller accessories that can be personalized for everyone’s home, their child’s personality and their preference.
The products are popular around the world, with suburban moms and celebrity fans, including Jessica Alba, Gwen Stefani, Kim Kardashian, Halle Berry, Ivanka Trump, Selma Blair, Rachel Zoe and many more.
Banu and her husband Kashif have two kids, Safia and Sahil, and live in Toronto. She recently chatted with Masalamommas to talk about her life, business venture and how they make it work.
Can you tell us a little bit about how 3 Sprouts came to be?
3 Sprouts was founded by myself, my brother, Amit Khurana, and a friend, Obsidian Graham. I have an MBA from University of Toronto and Amit and Obsidian went to Ryerson University for fashion design. After completing our degrees, we worked for different design/retail companies including Holt Renfrew and Kate Spade. Amit and I also founded a lingerie brand, Khurana, which sold in stores such as Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Selfridges and Holt Renfrew. We closed that business in 2006 and founded 3 Sprouts with Obsidian in 2007.
What inspired you to make the change from Khurana to 3 Sprouts?
The idea of 3 Sprouts came after I had my first child. I started to notice that there was a lot of design activity happening in children’s products. At the same time, our sales at Khurana had started to decline so we needed to come up with a new idea and 3 Sprouts was the result of those factors.
Is there a favourite product you would recommend for anyone and everyone?
I would recommend our storage bins because they are perfect for clearing up a room full of toys! They are large enough to hold all shapes and sizes of toys.
What is it like to create a family business?
It’s a very familiar setup for me as my parents ran a business together so I was accustomed to the dynamic as I was growing up. Amit and I have been working together since 2000. A key benefit is that I’ve never had to worry about issues surrounding trust or support.
How do you balance the demands of being a mom with being an entrepreneur?
I have two business partners and we can rely on each other when we have personal demands on our time. My parents have been a huge help with my children and this has made a world of difference. I feel very lucky to have the support from my family and business partners to help me manage these demands.
What is the message you’d like to share with other moms who are also business owners/entrepreneurs?
Don’t underestimate yourself or your abilities. We all have doubts and fears when we start something new, and you learn as you go. 3 Sprouts has been shaped with a lot of on-the-job learning as we only wrote one order at our first tradeshow in 2007!
Do you think South Asian women hesitate to go into business? If so, why?
I think there are times when our business endeavours are not taken as seriously as those pursued by men. This is not limited to South Asian women because I’ve had this discussion with my Jamaican-Canadian business partner. We have found that both men and women from all sorts of backgrounds often assume we work from home once they find out we are entrepreneurs (which they don’t, 3 Sprouts is headquartered in Toronto). You can, of course, run a successful business from home, but many people presume that a home-based business is the only option for women.
How has your culture/family played a part/shaped your life now?
Our cultural emphasis on closeness of family has been critical in shaping my life. It has influenced so many aspects of my life including my current business. I work with my brother and my brother in law is a key supplier. On a superficial level, our design colour sense at 3 Sprouts takes its roots from India’s mastery of colour combinations and confident use of all colours.
What is the one lesson you want your kids to learn or know, more than anything else?
A good education will afford you a life with options.
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