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It's Women's Day and there are these incredible Indian women whose stories are all filling up my Facebook timeline that talk about the wonderful things that they have done for our country and beyond.
But, we've heard them all and read about them about a zillion times, haven't we? How about some other lesser known "mum-preneurs" who are doing it all single-handedly and showing the world the power of a woman's might in the process.
theindusparent got up, close and personal with MasterChef India season 2 finalist Hiral Suthar Agrawal and heard about her incredible journey after MasterChef.
Hiral started her own cake shop, Cakeoholics, in Gorakhpur after her television stint and now she heads the chain that is slowly spreading its wings in Uttar Pradesh's small city, Gorakhpur.
She's also a doting mother to two lovely daughters and says that "the mother in me just makes me more compassionate about my creations, wanting to be a part of the smile that a child will get seeing his favourite cartoon on the cake."
Read on to know more about her incredible journey!
1. How was it reaching the finals of MasterChef India? How did it change your life?
The entire process of being a part of MasterChef, from the auditions to the finale was a real joy ride. I went into it without the slightest idea of what I was getting into except that it would be something that I love doing and that is cooking. I didn't have any grand plans to win, and forget winning , to even reach the finale.
And I think it was this attitude that made me go through all the levels without any hitches as I was not looking at an end goal but enjoying the journey of MasterChef. It's no doubt been a surreal experience as you keep discovering some or the other new thing about yourself, about your passion, about the whole food industry out there and it opens up passages that you otherwise wouldn't even think possible.
Of course ultimately how you use ur exposure depends on you. But all in all its is definitely worth the time it takes you always from your normal life and family. But I should add that it is easy too, to be carried away, by this short-lived success and this is where my family kept me grounded. The kind of recognition that you get, you start feeling like a celebrity but it needs to be understood that at the end of the day it is just your food that will speak and nothing else. And my husband Amit and my girls have been that sobering force in my life.
2. How did you start Cakeoholics?
What is surprising is that once you are on a cookery show of any sorts people just assume that you know the ins and outs of everything and I do mean everything related to food. I came back from MasterChef and it was a general assumption that I knew how to bake the best cakes in town!! I do not know if it was true or not but that belief that people had in me actually made me up my baking game and I'm so glad!! That's actually how Cakeoholics was born.
It's is my 3rd child and I couldn't have been more proud of it than I already am. For someone with no basic training in baking, and just my flavour instincts to guide me, we have set up 2 outlets in 3 years and are targeting 2 more by the end of this year. Amit for one is the whole and soul of Cakeoholics.
Hiral with her husband Amit, daughters and her mother-in-law.
He knew that I would be true to the demands, even though I didn't really have that confidence in myself, because I always thought of myself more as a 'masala' and 'fusion' person rather than sweets and desserts!!!But now we do crazy stuff, crazy combining of flavours and it works. Well, almost all of it!! And this is the best part about this work. It's a new day every day. It can never get monotonous and that keeps us so super excited!!
3. Being a mother to two adorable girls, how do you manage work-life balance?
In India, being a mother is very overrated and actually overwhelming! If you are working, people will ask you questions like," who is looking after the child? Who manages while you are out? Do you manage your social commitments? Who cooks?' and then that classic line 'oh! You have a maid? But I would never leave my child with the maid, I can't trust anyone.' Really?? Does that make me a bad mother?
Is it not OK for my girls to see that their mother is trying to make her own identity and that it is setting a kind of path for them to follow as well. They might not follow it is completely their choice to be respected but at least they were shown an alternate. It's easy to manage work and home if you have a clear picture in your head about your priorities.
Hiral's two adorable girls.
Of course, you have to be on your toes always, because again it's like living a new day every day, especially when the children are young. Some days work comes first and the kids might get more than a 'good morning and 'good night' wish from you and on other days work takes a back seat.
You just have to decide what comes first for you and act accordingly. And not feel guilty about any of it. Otherwise, you will never be true to your role as a mother or as an entrepreneur. Not all days will be the same and not every emotion you feel will be that deep or true. But then that's juggling, isn't it!! Having a supportive husband is the key ( especially in a country like India) to any woman successfully juggling work and home and I'm blessed!
4. How has motherhood helped you in running your business so successfully?
You will not even believe the kind of feedback I get from my elder daughter. She is actually my true critic. The younger one is still too small but then she has her own way of being a part of my work. As a baker and business woman, yes I'm glad to finish my cakes the way I do and see the clients happy, but the mother in me wants to get every detail on that cake just right because I know the kind of joy it would bring to my children if they were presented such complete cakes.
Some incredible cake designs from Cakeoholics!
I think being a mother just makes me more compassionate about my creations, wanting to be a part of the smile that a child will get seeing his favourite cartoon on the cake, or a wife will get in seeing how pretty the anniversary cake turned out. It's more about the emotion you put in and that, of course, is not something that can be taught professionally.
5. Three parenting rules that your swear by...
There are really no rules to parenting, as every child is different and every parent thinks differently. But I do believe that trying to get your child to excel at everything he/she does, as is the scenario today, is just being selfish. Especially the generation that sees us as parents is very demanding of their kids which is not fair. Each child comes with his/her destiny. You can't change it.
Yes, I do agree that you need to be the guide. So be just that. Don't try and live their life for them. Let them make their own mistakes, repent, learn, gather themselves and move ahead. Teach them the life skills they will need to cope with whatever life throws at them and they will come out victorious. Today how does it matter what grades I had in my 8th class or how old was I when I graduated.
In reality, nothing of it matters except what I really learnt in life till now, what skills I acquired as I grew up and how do I put them to use. And none of these lessons were taught to me by my parents by sending me to classes. Let the children of today live their childhood in which ever way they can because the kind of freedom that we had is something that they won't get to enjoy.
6. What is your message to other mums out there, who are itching to start something of their own but somehow haven't got a breakthrough?
I think I have already said quite a bit so far. Most of the problems are just in your head. If you sort them out, life will automatically get more sorted. I don't say it will ease your problems, but at least it will give a clearer picture of which problem to address priority wise. There is a simple truth that I have kind of drilled in my head. 'If there is a problem it will have a solution and if there is no solution then the problem is the truth itself and you need to work around it.'
Despite success, hurdles, issues, money, no money, kids, no kids, supportive or non-supportive family, husband, talent, skills, it is ultimately who you think you are in your head that you shall be on the outside too.
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Avantika Kukreti is a mother of the cutest five-year-old daughter in this world, who keeps on amusing her everyday with her amazing storytelling prowess. She also happens to be a multi-platform media professional with 9 years of experience in lifestyle writing and editing.
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