'Will of a mother made struggles look like hiccups'
Gurgaon-based supermom and founder of Vastradi Jewels, Suman Dash talks about juggling between raising a flourishing career and her adorable baby girl
So Suman, you are a super mum. Kindly tell us about yourself?
I'm mother to a beautiful four-year-old daughter Saaz. Since childhood, I was exposed to all forms of art and was encouraged to follow my own instincts. I used travel a lot with my family and it was during that time I developed a knack of picking up fine pieces of jewelry wherever I went.
I took up a corporate job with Reliance in 2005 and also associated myself with many NGOs and social communities. During that period, I came across a lot of karigars who made exquisite pieces of art but not enough money. I wanted to do something for them but did not know how. I got married in 2007 and after Saaz was born in 2010, I decided to take a break from my corporate life. Around that time, my husband insisted that I should start something of my own. This is when the plight of the karigars flashed my mind and Vastradi was born. And this is how I became the co-founder of Vastradi Jewels based out of Gurgaon.
What is a typical day like?
Being a mother, a typical day for me starts at 6.30 in the morning. I wake up to a hot cup of lemon tea and a quick game of Sudoku. I prefer waking up my daughter myself and have a bonding session with her before I leave for work. Office starts at 9 and continues uptil 6-6.30 p.m. I generally try and get back home by that time so that I can spend some quality time with my family.
How are weekends for you?
I work on Saturdays, so I only get time off from work on Sundays. I spend the entire day with Saaz and my husband doing fun things. We visit parks, zoos, and make it a day with short trips to India gate, Stellar museum, and Raahagiri (which happens in Gurgaon) quite often. This is one day completely dedicated to fun and we make sure to keep it that way.
If you were to create a pie chart of your life, how would your time be divided between work, your husband, kids, friends and self?
It actually depends on various aspects. Some days I work for 8-10 hours and on some, this can stretch up to to 15. But I do make sure to be present at all important occasions (like school functions, parties, etc.) and also take out time for myself. I believe it is about planning the time ahead and sticking to it.
Being a mother, what are the challenges you face?
Challenges are inevitable. At work, managing finances, market analysis, product quality, connecting and networking, business developing, hiring the right team and keeping them motivated, are some challenges that I face. But these are little struggles that have pushed me to do better. I look forward to learning something new every day, and use my knowledge to help empower my team and delegate the responsibilities further.
On the Mum-front, I feel I've been blessed with a very understanding daughter who knows that mumma has to go to work and will not be available for certain things. At my end, I make sure to make the most of the time we spend together.
However, challenges at home front are also inevitable. Since the kid is with the house help for a good time, ensuring his safety and knowing exactly how the time was spent is essential. I try to keep a tab on things by having an open conversation with Saaz about her day. I sometimes also pay surprise visits at home. Besides, maintaining good relationships with neighbours help a lot in these situations.
What has been your biggest emotional struggle while bringing up your kid and a successful career?
Being a mother, it was difficult during the initial startup period. Guilt is something that every mom goes through when they work, leaving a little baby at home. Plus, the continuous worry about your baby's safety can drive you crazy at times. All these things happened to me as well but the strong family support and the belief that what I'm doing is right got me through these feelings.
Who has been your sounding board through your parenting journey?
I think for me and my husband, we have been the sounding board for each other. My husband is also my mentor as he helps a lot in my business decisions. He is a hands-on father as well. We take all the decisions together and help each other out during any demanding situations.
While struggling to create work-life balance, did you ever think about quitting? If yes, how did you manage?
When struggles come your way, it's human to think about quitting and so did I. But the dream of building something of my own and pursuing my heart to help the karigars was strong enough to get me through this. Also having the will to sort out problems and finding solutions for them made the struggles look like little hiccups and made me get through the tough times.
Your idea of me time?
From this year, I will be taking at least 3-4 days off only for myself and travel somewhere. It has been a dream since long and now that Vastradi and Saaz both seem to be stable, I can splurge into some me time.
Being a mother is...
The best thing that could have happened to me. It has not only given me the biggest joy of my life but has also made me more disciplined and stronger in more ways than I could have imagined.
Advice to working mums who are struggling to achieve work-life balance?
The key to work-life balance is time management. In being a mother, a lot of hard work and sacrifice is involved, but it all falls into place. It is important to not get worked up in tough situations and strive for solutions.
As told to Geeta Masurekar
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