Balancing Act | Verve Magazine
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Verve People
October 09, 2018

Balancing Act

Text by Tina Dastur. Photograph by Shruti Tejwani

The Mommy Network is an online platform that helps working mothers juggle their responsibilities by connecting them with a support system of like-minded women. Its annual pop-up, which features a range of children-focused vendors, partners exclusively with Verve this year, and the three founders speak with us about the evolution of their initiative.

The Mommy Network is spearheaded by three resourceful mothers — Kiran Chaudhry Amlani (a lawyer-turned-performing-artiste), Shreya Lamba (an ex-management consultant and co-founder of The Mumum Co.) and Tejal Bajla (an expert in early childhood education and co-founder of Brainsmith). It was set up in 2014 by Amlani and Lamba (Bajla joined later) to help new mothers deal with the demands of motherhood. “We faced several challenges in the early years; right from the lack of reliable information and experience sharing by moms to domestic help issues and, above all, the lack of emotional understanding that only another mother could share. And we thought of building a supportive community that would serve as a forum for new — and not so new — mothers,” says Amlani, on what prompted them to set up The Mommy Network.

It is a closed Facebook group that mothers can join only by recommendation or invitation. “It serves as a rather large extended family who share suggestions, opinions and best practices and, most importantly, offer moral support,” adds Lamba. As the network grew, the co-founders decided to expand their list of offerings with verticals like The Mommy Network Play Dates, The Mommy Network Expert Series and The Mommy Network Social Evenings. But the most well-known event is The Mommy Network Pop Up, which is an exclusively curated children’s exhibit, hosted annually in Mumbai. It is for mothers, by mothers, and it brings together some of the best brands in children’s apparel, accessories, educational aids, toys and foods, with a focus on products that are organic, natural and healthy.

When asked about the momtrepreneurs who inspire them, Bajla points to Deepshikha Deshmukh of Love Organically, an organic skincare brand for little ones and their families. “A Bollywood film producer, entrepreneur, mother of two and the wife of a politico, Deepshikha connects easily with people,” she reveals. For Lamba, it’s Farah Nathani-Menzies, co-founder of The Mumum Co., a food manufacturer that makes wholesome, healthy snacks for children. “Farah is the quintessential superwoman who skilfully multitasks and manages work, kids, family and friends, all at once.” Amlani names Abha Mehta Shah who started the company PodSquad, which makes children’s activity boxes based on Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. “Abha’s affable disposition and her willingness to go the extra mile to help anyone makes her my favourite!” asserts Amlani.

Of the more recent entrants to The Mommy Network Pop Up, Dr Vaidya’s — a venture co-founded by brother-sister duo Arjun Vaidya and Aarti Cooper — incorporates the founders’ grandfather’s 150-year-old legacy of traditional Ayurvedic products into the 21st century by launching Chakaash — a new-age take on chyawanprash. Diksha Jain’s children’s dinnerware brand, Boo & Boo, uses biodegradable, renewable and sustainable bamboo, while Rashmi Jalan’s Cocomo offers a natural, dermatologically approved sulphate- and paraben-free range of personal care products for children above four years of age.

While the three women have provided other mothers with a safe, judgement-free haven, I wonder what the dynamic among them is like. “The Mommy Network is one of the best partnerships in business and life that I have ever had. Kiran, Shreya and I are friends first and partners later. What makes our relationship unique is our ability to pitch in for each other selflessly when the going gets tough. We are always in collaboration and never in competition. What binds us is that all three of us have very similar moral frameworks and strong value systems with which we conduct our businesses and lives,” details Bajla.

The network has been a support for its founders too. For Amlani, it helped her settle into Mumbai when she arrived here with no family or friends. “I can get a recommendation for a brand of organic diapers just as easily as I can get one for a bar in Bangkok (tried and tested!),” she admits. For Lamba, the community has made her feel loved: “I never felt like I was going through anything alone because there were so many like me sharing their stories and advice”. And for Bajla, The Mommy Network has been something of a lifeline. Recounting an instance, she says, “Once, I needed to see a physiotherapist urgently because I was suffering from excruciating pain. One of the mothers had a physiotherapist come see me within an hour of me posting my query on the group. I was overwhelmed!” This episode is one of the many that proves that The Mommy Network lives up to its name.

The third edition of The Mommy Network Pop Up – in association with Verve – takes place on October 13, 2018, from 10.30 am to 8.30 pm, at 18.99 Latitude Banquets, Kamala Mills Compound.

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