How they juggled their babies and business

Radhika Merwin | Updated on January 09, 2018

RADHIKA ARVIND Software engineer turned app developer

SEETHA GOPALAKRISHNAN Researcher on water issues

alphaspirit/   -  alphaspirit/

SUSAN JOHN, Architect turned entrepreneur

Meet the women who pursued their passion while being stay-at-home moms

Many women leave high-powered and rewarding jobs to take time off to raise their children. Some jump back into work after a long sabbatical, don their formals and head back to office. Still others choose to upend their careers such that it gives them more flexible hours and leeway, to juggle family and work life better.

BusinessLine sounded out a few of them to understand how these women are making their stay-at-home decision really count.

H(app)y way

From being a high-paid software professional to a full-time-mom raising two children, Radhika Arvind’s life has never had a dull moment. A graduate from the M S Ramaiah Institute of Technology, in Instrumentation & Electronics Engineering, Radhika joined Accord Software & Systems, Bengaluru, as part of their GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) group, through campus placement.

“I gained experience working in embedded systems. I enjoyed my work and never dreamt of quitting,” she recalls.

But after putting in endless hours and advancing in her career rapidly, Radhika took the tough call of quitting her job to be at home — a decision she hardly ever regrets.

“When I had about four years of work experience, my son was born. I strongly felt the need to spend more time with him. Meanwhile, my responsibilities at work increased, and it was clear to me that I was at a crossroads. I finally decided to take a break, but aiming to get back on the career track as soon as possible,” explains Radhika.

But after her daughter was born, she was completely immersed in raising her two kids.

Getting back to a full-time job seemed well nigh impossible. But unwilling to give up her passion for technology, Radhika decided to chart a new course in her career path instead.

“When Apple opened the App Store, it seemed like a great opportunity for me to learn new skills. The fact that I would be developing for a world-class brand like Apple, which sets the bar so high, got me excited,” says Radhika.

Turning her mom skills to job skills, Radhika designed an app — MyToyFile https:/ com/in/app/id1302150090 — that was recently approved by Apple. Thrilled by her latest achievement, Radhika elaborates on how she struck upon the idea in the first place.

“Any parent can identify with the fact that most kids today have a huge collection of expensive toys. The toy shelves are stuffed from top to bottom and it is impossible for any parent to keep track. Busy parents shopping either in a toy store, or online, often end up buying something they already have. MyToyFile addresses this problem,” she explains.

The interface is easy to use and enables parents or even grandparents to build a database of toys. After that, a quick search and voila, you are empowered to make a smart buy!

On creative turf

If Radhika chose to pursue her line of work, there are others who progressed with completely new careers.

Susan John, with a degree in architecture and a practising architect for a few years, decided to pursue her interest in other creative skills.

“When marriage came calling seven years ago, and had me move out of India, to a country that did not permit me to work on the visa I was on, I had to stop working. I still did a lot of volunteer work in architecture but it didn’t stimulate my creativity any more,” says Susan.

Hence she decided to learn some new skills. “The first one on the long list of creative skills I wanted to learn was sewing. There has been no turning back since. The beautiful bold fabrics and the rhythmic whirring of the sewing machine had me hooked. It’s amazing how a flat bolt of fabric and a spool of thread can transform into something so functional and so unique,” says an excited Susan.

“Bag making was almost a given for me considering what a bag addict I am. I am involved in every stage of the bag making — from design, sourcing of fabrics, cutting, sewing. And the business side as well — from the marketing, photography and packaging, as is the case for most home-grown businesses,” she adds.

Susan has roped in her maid to help and together they spend 4-6 hours on each bag. Her aptly named venture, — A Sunny Disposition (ASD) — has had a very organic growth. “The future for ASD is to continue to live up to its name — that everyone that owns an ASD bag is able to achieve A Sunny Disposition, cheerful and positive.”

Keeping it flexi

Not all women go through the rigmarole of joining the workforce, taking a break and finding their way back into the corporate world. Some choose to keep it flexi from the beginning to manage their work-life balance better.

Meet Seetha Gopalakrishnan who took a conscious decision to do freelance work from the beginning to pursue other interests as well.

“I have a Masters degree in Social Sciences from the University of Madras. Soon after I completed M.A, I appeared for the Civil Services Exam, but was not successful. I took up a job at India Water Portal, an online knowledge sharing platform on water and sanitation issues run by Bengaluru-based Arghyam Trust. I research and report on water and sanitation issues, mostly from Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and, rarely, Kerala. I have been with IWP since 2011 with a very brief break in between,” says Seetha.

She also freelanced as an English News presenter with DD News. She quit neither of her jobs after she had a baby, but did scale down her work. “I did not take up any new assignments due to obvious time constraints I might face later on. So I expect my engagement with IWP and DD to continue without much hassle — though my work hours will be less than before.

Since her work allows her to pursue other interests, she got to spend time to experiment with sewing and jewellery making, mainly for personal use and friends. “I managed to take it to the next level and that’s how Vishuddhi Tree - was born seven months back. I’ve been using Instagram as a platform to promote it. It is still at a very nascent stage. I’ve not been able to devote much time to it as my daughter needs me more now since she’s just five months old. But I'll try my best to keep it up and running till I have more time at hand,” says Seetha.

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Published on November 12, 2017
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