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.
Akshaya in O'HappySunshine feeding kurti
Akshaya Nandakumar, is passionate about Babywearing. She shares with parents and caregivers the advantages of babywearing because she personally knows how powerful it can be, Babywearing changed her life. Let’s ask her everything about her experience with babywearing.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your family?
What’s your Parenting Mantra?
Can you talk a little about what brought your interest in babywearing?
What do you love about babywearing?
What is the most common comment you get when you are out and about babywearing?
Is your partner a keen baby wearer?
What’s the first thing you’d tell someone thinking about trying babywearing?
Is there anything that people should be careful about while babywearing?
What activity are you most likely to rely on babywearing to get done?
And lastly, How would you explain the power of womanhood to your daughter this women’s day?
Give me a one-word answer that arises to mind for each of the following:
From an Investment Banker to a Designer to stepping down at children’s level to conduct workshops - Had you ever imagined that you would be working in fields as diverse as these? Please share your experiences on motherhood and how it has changed you as a person?
Motherhood is a journey of a kind. It is not a journey of a few weeks, months or years but a metamorphosis of a lifetime. And we women are blessed to be the bearers of this change.
I had a bitter-sweet pregnancy but surely a blessed one. I say blessed because I worked full-time, practiced yoga, travelled and did pretty much everything. Though I was hospitalized in between but I always managed to get back to work after a few days. I loved my work so much that I took off just 2days before my due date. Never for a moment I thought of giving it up post baby. I had it all planned! But, things got difficult. I did not have full-time support to juggle both work and baby. Finally, I made the call and closed my studio. It was one of the toughest decisions of my life. It taught me that no matter how meticulously you plan, life is full of surprises and sometimes not so good ones. If post-partum was not enough already, I was now very bitter and angry. At the same time, I was also very cautious of not pouring it over my child. This realization made me immensely patient and I never, before in my life, considered patience as my virtue. My mother-in-law would compliment and appreciate me for being so very patient, but little did she know where it was coming from. So this pretty much answers the first question and how it has changed me as a person.
Never in my dreams had I though of so many different careers paths. I always wanted to work in Investment Banking and was fortunate enough to work with KPMG, Singapore and ICICI Securities, Mumbai. These were very enriching experiences of my life and I learned tremendously.
What inspired you to create Curious Caterpillars?
What motivated me to start Curious Caterpillars was solely my son’s curiosity and my desire to give him the best while I was full-time mommy. Somehow I felt his playschool (though a Montessori) was not doing justice to his questions. So following his lead, I started designing little books and activities to sate his curiosity. Fellow moms loved these kits and even before I could fathom, Curious Caterpillars was formed. With love pouring in from everywhere, we soon started STEM workshops. And then an amazing things happened! Not only I was bombarded with questions related to learning but also parenting. I had always been deeply involved and passionate about Child Psychology. In fact, this very understanding of child psychology had helped me get down to children’s level to explain them complex things the easy way. So now Curious Caterpillars was not just a about learning but also Gentle Parenting.
What were the challenges you faced in setting up the business? Who was your biggest support?
The biggest challenge I faced was getting like-minded passionate people who could really get down to children’s level and address complex questions. Curious Caterpillars runs on passion and not money. That, is something hard to find outside.My biggest support and strength through out this remained my husband and my sister. They encouraged me, guided me and did everything they could to keep me going. They are my pillars of strength.
Could you give us a glimpse of your typical working day?
A typical work day starts at 0630. Getting my son ready for school, running to yoga and getting breakfast ready. By 0930, I am at my desk only to leave again to fetch my boy from school at 1210. We reach home by 1340, change, eat lunch, chat about our day and before long its 1500hrs. We leave again for park at 1530 and come back at 1730. Once back, it is family time. Dinner is served at 1930hrs followed my storty time, FaceTime with nanni and finally my lo hits the snooze button around 2030. Post this, is the best part of the my day. I sit back with a cup of hot chocolate and have my hygge moment before returning to work at 10pm and continuing till 11:20pm.
How do you relax while juggling between a gazillions of tasks you have everyday?
It is tough to relax during the day but whenever possible, I try to catch a shut eye before leaving for the park. Also, I meet my friends at the park which is a big plus and sometimes before we head home, we grab pani-puri just to keep the sanity alive.
What has been the happiest moment in your journey so far?
Our happiest and proudest moment was when a girl, who refused to sit through all other classes her mother tried, became our patron. Another one was last year ,when we were featured in HT City.
Would you say that being a mom is advantageous or disadvantageous as far as starting a business is concerned?
Being a mom and an entrepreneur is definitely tough. Whether advantageous or disadvantageous, depends on the kind of the venture and also the support system you have around. For me it definitely proved advantageous since my son is the reason behind this venture.
What is the one piece of advice that you wish to share with women out there?
The one advise I have is never give up and be optimistic. Life is what we make of it and it will offer you ample opportunities to achieve what you desire. Stay Strong, Stay Positive!
Thanks Shreiya for taking out time and encouraging other women who are looking for some inspiration.
Shreiya is the founder of https://www.facebook.com/curiouscaterpillarss/ who encourages little minds by conducting workshops and other activities.
Educational Technology in Early Childhood — Yay or NayWe all know how addictive technology is. With parents finding it hard to keep their phones down, imagine how technology feeds young brains. Some people have even gone far to compare its addiction to heroin. And when this addiction starts so early, it is scary to imagine the consequences. Often such children find it impossible to keep themselves entertained and constantly look for external stimulus.
Sometimes nursing in public gets really tricky eg. travelling in a bus or a train. Discreet kurtis or tops are a big blessing. Even if you choose to wear discreet kurtis, do carry a cover up (dupatta or a stole). Just in case you want to burp your baby you can cover up using the stole and worry about zippers later.
Karva Chauth is a one-day festival celebrated by women in Northern India, in which married women fast from sunrise to moonrise for the safety and longevity of their husbands.
Karvachauth brings back some fond childhood memories when my mom used to drape a bright saree, put on mehendi, bangles and makeup. I used to look forward because it was a reason for me to wear bindi and bangles and wear my lehenga. And then impatiently waiting to accompany mom for the evening pooja and then the best part ,waiting for the moon!
Now I have a daughter and I see the same excitement I had as a kid.
While there is a lot of excitement about the celebrations now, I was a little stressed out when it was my first Karvachauth after my baby was born.
There was a lot of dilemma around 'to fast' or 'not to fast' while I was exclusively breastfeeding. My pediatrician suggested that fasting (not eating) for a few hours will not decrease milk supply, but that severe dehydration can decrease milk supply and sometimes it gets really difficult to get back the supply. After discussing with my husband and his family I decided I would keep myself hydrated and also eat fruits in case I got hungry.
A few tips from my experience for new moms -
1. Skip elaborate henna - Keeping your hands busy while waiting your mehendi to dry up isn't a great idea, also once the mehendi is dry it would start chipping off which is again not a great idea if you are breastfeeding your baby.
2. Eat a good, healthy meal in the morning for your sargi - Make sure to eat protein and fiber rich meal to stay full for longer. Also, drink a lot of water and unsweetened fruit juice to stay hydrated. Too much sugary stuff can make you feel thirsty so better limit the amount of sweets.
3. Take help - Let the daddy take over most of the baby’s work for the day (except breastfeeding of course ;) like taking the baby out, changing diapers etc. If the daddy isn’t around, take whatever help you get from your family and friends. Do not take up any work that is taxing and will tire you out.
4. Take a nap - Like they say, Take a nap when the baby naps. Also the hunger pangs are the strongest during meal hours so the best way is to take an afternoon nap.
5. Wear Comfortable clothes for the evening pooja - Though we all want to look our absolute best (Some women wear their wedding lehenga too) But for a new mom this can be exhausting and can cause anxiety since she also has to feed the baby. Wear nursing Kurtas or a sari with a soft fabric in which you can comfortably breastfeed.
To fast or not to fast is totally personal. Lets not judge each other. Lets respect each other choices and enjoy the special day with our special ones.
Hope you have a wonderful Karvachauth.
Diwali is a festival that brings lots of joy and happiness in ones life and the happiness increases manifolds if there is a new baby in the house.
Amidst the celebrations and excitement it is very easy to forget that its too much for a young baby to handle. Here are a few points which you can keep in mind to help you and your baby enjoy his/her first Diwali
- Stick to the baby’s routine - As much as possible try to stick to baby’s routine of bath time, feeding and nap times. A well rested baby will be less cranky and irritable and will be able to enjoy with you more.
- Parents always be around your little one - Too many guests visiting and holding the baby can be overwhelming to the lil one. Parents or care givers should always be around to make the baby feel secure.
- Choose comfortable clothes for you and for your baby - Make sure moms clothes are comfortable and do not irritate your baby skin. The best idea is to pick a bright, colorful yet a simple outfit preferably a nursing dress which gives you both style and confidence breastfeed comfortably even in front of others.
- Watch out what your baby eats - Make sure you keep nuts and other foods not right for the baby out of his/her reach.
- Stay Indoors - Sudden loud noises can frighten the little one. Also the smoke from the fire crackers is very unsafe for the babies. So it is best to keep them indoors. And enjoy the sparkling lights and decorations from a safe distance.
I hope these will help you as you prepare for your baby's first Diwali.
Diwali wishes from Team O'HappySunshine
Check out the Diwali collection at O'happysunshine , use Coupon code HAPPYDIWALI to avail discount.
Do you remember the day you found out you were pregnant.
It all started with a few tears of joy, excitement, those funny baby kicks, worry, sleepless nights, anxiety and finally the happiest tears rolling down your cheeks as you held your baby for the first time in your arms.
And the very next moment forgetting all the pain you went through. Such is motherhood!
Every Mom you meet has a different story to share, you might relate to some and to some you might not. But there is definitely something you can learn from others!
Let's hear what Reecha, who worked with Ericsson and now is enjoying being a stay at home mom with her daughter.
A mom, a daadi and naani get together to solve a new mom’s biggest painpoint – breastfeeding in public
Breastfeeding versus formula feeding has been the centre of discourse among new-age mothers. But this debate, like many others, is a double-edged sword –for mothers are judged heavily whether they choose to breastfeed or not. The beautiful natural act is often sexualised and tabooised, while its medically-acclaimed alternative villainizes the mother.
To breastfeed or not to breastfeed?
A quick skim through these statistics should give you the lowdown on the extent of the problem. An estimated one to five percent of all women have the inability to produce enough milk for their babies. Even fewer, around two percent of women, cannot physically lactate or have problems that lead to the inability to breastfeed. Amongst the remaining 95 percent of mothers who do have the ability to breastfeed, 81 percent try to breastfeed. Seventeen percent exclusively breastfeed (meaning only breastfeed, without even occasionally using formula) until the baby is three months old. The number further drops to 14 percent by the time the baby turns four months old. According to the NHS 2010 Infant Feeding Survey, in India only one percent of women continue to exclusively breastfeed until the baby is six months old.
However, a global public health recommendation states that all infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. But, according to research, a new-age mother, especially in India, faces a lot of stigma while nursing in public, potentially inhibiting her desire to continue.
These theoretical findings were further bolstered by 33-year-old new mom Shruti Katyal’s own horrifying first-hand experience, on her first-week visit to the doctor after the birth of her baby girl. “It was my biggest nightmare. While we were stuck in Delhi’s slow moving traffic, my daughter started crying uncontrollably. I got nervous, since I was totally unprepared for this. I managed to cover myself up, even though it felt like I was suffocating her, but I managed to feed her. All that while, I got awkward stares from the people around, some even trying to peep in,” she narrates.
A nightmare dressed like a daydream
The first thing she did, after returning home, was look for the feeding options available in the market – but was intrigued by the fact that there were none that were up to the mark, or ‘socially acceptable.’ It came down to making a choice between giving up her social life entirely or to start a formula-feeding cycle for her child, even though the doctors advised against it. “Those who breastfeed in public feel embarrassed since our society hasn’t normalised the idea of breastfeeding. And those who formula feed their babies are labeled as super-lazy and looked down upon, for ‘poisoning’ their child,’ says Shruti.
Another hindrance is the lack of knowledge and support from the spouse, and peers. “Breastfeeding can be hard work, and mentally exhausting at first. Getting the right support and knowledge about the benefits of breastfeeding are crucial to help them continue,” she says. Research has also proven that a woman with a supportive spouse is significantly more likely to still be breastfeeding at a year than a woman with a husband who isn’t.
This encouraged her to first change the conversation from "I can't believe you're breastfeeding here” to "You look totally awesome!"Secondly, provide women the most comfortable and stylish clothing options, to make breastfeeding a smooth process. These were the building blocks of O’HappySunshine.
“When I went out in search of a good nursing wear, I was quite disappointed because all I could find was nighties and night suits. There was no segment for stylish and functional nursing apparel that helps a new mom to integrate breastfeeding into her lifestyle,” says Shruti.
Twinning with happiness and sunshine
At the time, the Bachelors in Computer Engineering graduate from Thapar Patiala and a decade-old patron of the software industry was working at IBM. During her maternity, she started working on this idea day-and-night, even as her baby was merely three months old.
But both her mums – her mother as well as her mother-in-law – got into hyperdrive, recognising it as a real problem that they also remembered facing when they were nursing. They cradled the new mom with encouragement, support and an extra hand, and in turn, prepared her to cradle her two babies as well. She thus launched her website , www.ohappysunshine.com that gave users both functional and stylish nursing apparel to help them integrate breastfeeding into their life. She designed her own kurtis which had concealed zippers on both sides, making it very discreet for a mother to feed anywhere.
Looking at the response in the first month of the launch, it was a no-brainer, deciding whether she was ready for her plunge.All the signs prompted that she was ready to leave her job with IBM, to pursue this and her new role as a mother, full-time. “It was a tough start, and felt like taking care of two babies, both demanding a lot of attention and care – but my parents, my husband and his parents supported me greatly and that made things a lot easier,” says Shruti.
All her designs are manufactured in-house at this stage. The new portal has over 40 products listed, including casual kurtas and nightwear. But Shruti is working on introducing party wear salwarsuits, because a large chunk of her customers requested her to stock up in the category.
“Being a new mom myself, I understand the million worries we have with our little ones! These feeding tops have made my life easier and I hope they give a new mother that confidence to never have to worry about breastfeeding in public again,” she says.
Over the last year, the venture, run by a seven-member team - has grown entirely on word-of-mouth,becoming profitable and cash-flow positive. It gets about 300 visitors a day,including a sizable number of hits from US, Canada and UK. She is already clocking 200 orders a month, with an average ticket size of Rs 1,200 per transaction - even before she undertakes any advertising on social media or search engines. “We have received numerous messages, phone calls and thank you notes from mothers on making their life easier,” says Shruti. The website now boasts of over 100 solid five-star reviews from customers and is among top three search results on Google, for Nursing and Feeding kurtas/kurtis in India.
Originally featured in Yourstory - https://yourstory.com/2016/09/ohappysunshine/