Harini Raghavan and Sangeetha Arunachalam did their Chartered Accountancy together. They let the world of numbers define their lives, until another human being did.
Their babies were born four days apart, after which they slowly got sucked into a world of feeding bottles, teethers and nappy pads, and put aside their careers. “One day, after endless cradling and walking with my 18-month-old baby, when she finally slept at dawn, I wrote a small poem on my Facebook wall. I remember thinking how many would actually get it,” says Sangeetha.
As a solution, she started a Facebook page exclusively for mothers who she knew would get the essence of her verses. Smart Mommies started with just a bunch of her friends, including Harini, and soon expanded to around 24,000 members from across India, and abroad.
For Harini, “the network helped her raise her daughter in a bolder way”. The smallest of queries — be it a rash on her baby’s skin or the reason behind her uncontrollable bawling during certain nights — found an answer from a fellow mother in the group.
Soon, Harini, who stays with a family of nine, preferred typing out her experiences on social media than voicing it out at the dinner table. “What started as a useful support group is now a warm circle of friends,” she says.
A few months into the start of the page, the duo began to spot marketing posts in between all the baby posts. “Afraid that this may divert focus off the supporting nature of the group, many of the business women were moved on to another group (SM Business Magnet) which was exclusively created for the members of Smart Mommies. A lot of business is already happening in the group, which is 2,000 strong and growing,” says Sangeetha.
The growing number suggests that most mothers who had quit their jobs are keen on taking up their passion, while being there for their toddlers at home.
For example, Harini moved on to retailing German silver and antique jewellery through her venture called Coloured Earth; Vandini Ravindran, an ex-employee of Google, now sells handmade terracotta jewellery to a vast clientele worldwide; and Angel Kurian quit her corporate life to start Ania, which provides customised fashionable clothing for children and adults.
Sangeetha realised that there was a pool of talent out there which required exposure. Kadai Veedhi by Penn Drive, a carnival to celebrate this talent, is a baby step in this regard.
The event, which is set to take place this weekend, will feature stalls by 15 mothers from the group. “This might hopefully encourage other mothers to follow suit. We want to let them know that they are capable of a lot more,” says Sangeetha.