Being A Mother Didn’t Hinder Us, It Gave Us A Spark: 2 Moms Who Founded The Mumum Co.
- IWB Post
- November 15, 2018
“‘Kar paogi tum dono yeh sab?’ We were often asked such questions and always, always that tone of doubt that whether we will be able to keep afloat this dream we are so passionate about while nursing our children. Well, it has been 10 months since we started, and we are yet to be proven wrong.”
That was Farah Nathani Menzies as I heard Shreya Lamba laughing in the background at Farah’s conviction. Well, it’s time for the introduction of these lovely ladies – meet Farah and Shreya, founders of the yummy, tasty and above all healthy snack brand for babies, The Mumum Co. which they founded in September 2017.
Shreya had been working as a consultant with A.T. Kearney, the global management consulting firm, for over a decade. So, after her daughter’s birth in 2014, she transitioned to a part-time role at A.T. Kearney for two years.
On the other hand, Farah had been a management consultant at Bain & Co (a multinational strategy consultant firm) across London, New York, Madrid, and Delhi offices for nine years, before she went to Harvard Business School for an MBA. Wanting to be close with her family during her first pregnancy, she came back to India, where she worked with Godrej for six years which gave her a lucrative part-time opportunity in Strategy & HR.
“I was always inclined towards having a balanced, natural life for myself in every aspect and that included food as well, and I thought, “Why don’t I have it for my child also?”. I also co-founded The Mommy Network (2012) with Kiran Amlani and Tejal Bajla, where I promote healthy eating and better nutrition for mothers. I met Farah one and a half years ago or so at a party and you should have seen how quickly our thoughts resonated,” said Shreya, “Being a mother didn’t hinder me, it gave me a spark.”
In an engaging conversation that went on for one hour, I learned from them what it means to rally on even when people say you should quit, the real struggle that goes behind creating some super tasty and healthy snacks for kids and why the name ‘Mumum Co.’ (why indeed?)
It must have felt like a match made in heaven, meeting Shreya, right?
Farah: Oh, yes! It was a struggle we both faced as mothers – making sure that the snacks our kids have were both tasty and healthy. There was no ‘no-preservative’ alternative available. When we met, this topic came up and we both got excited about the idea. In fact, we launched out of Shreya’s living room as our office, though we have established a separate office now.
And, how did the name Mumum Co. come into being?
Farah: You see, my younger daughter Alena would literally run around the house chanting ‘Mum-um, mum-um,’ and also in India a child utters ‘mumum’ for food and water. Another reason was that two ‘Mums’ run this company, can there be a more apt name?
Hmm. That is apt. So, being brand new entrepreneurs, what were the challenges you had to counter?
Shreya: To me, the very difficult thing was to make the actual snack itself. We simplify snacks to such an extent that whatever you see on the front of the box (the picture) is the equivalent of the ingredients in the product. When we entered this market, half the snacks out there that seem tasty are so because of all synthetic flavors added to them.
So, we vowed that whatever we make should be of such quality which we can put not only in the markets but in our homes as well. But making sure that such simple recipes without any added recipes remain stable is tough, thus all are snacks are a single serving. We aren’t open to adding even the smallest amount of preservatives like processed sugar or any artificial flavor to make our product more desirable. If we can’t do it naturally, then we won’t do it.
Well, your critics live in your house- so, do your daughters like your products?
Shreya: Of course, our kids literally live on the “Crunchies’ and the “Melties”! There does not go a SINGLE day without them munching on them.
Tell me about these little angels of yours, how involved are they in your business?
Farah: Kiara is the oldest of the three kids here i.e., my younger daughter Alena (3 and a half) and Shreya’s daughter Sera (4). And Kiara has always been involved from the start with Mumum Co. with choosing colors, flavors, being our expert taste chief inspector by telling us what’s yucky or not. And you know over the past 6 months when someone asks what she wants to do when she grows up, she says, “I want to help Mumma run Mumum Co.”
Aw! That’s so sweet. But you are two rather busy women, there must be moments when you are not there to look after your kids.
Farah: Yes, there are and fortunately in such moments it is our families that never make us feel worried for our kids. Like I live very close to my parents and whenever I am away my kids are at their grandparents. Also, my husband is a wonderful father and on countless occasions, he has looked after not only Alena and Kiara but also after Sera as well when Shreya’s husband is out of town. It is like having an extended family.
Shreya: So true! I also encourage her to make friends, engage in activities like music, football so she has plenty of other things to occupy her time. And I am blessed that she made such great friends with Alena, sometimes she goes to Farah’s house and has breakfast, lunch and even dinner as well!
But even though you have the limitless support of your family, our patriarchal society doesn’t let go a single chance to make a woman feel inferior.
Farah: I agree with you here. Even though there were fewer women in business school when I was doing my MBA, I never felt that my gender made any difference. Even when I was working in London, it was all very egalitarian. The only time that I felt like me being a woman is a matter of consequence was after I became a mother. Somehow, in India, it is the mother who is expected to look after her child barring any responsibility from her partner.
Shreya: So, women are either pressured into quitting their work for the sake of looking after their kids or are so conditioned that they themselves feel guilt-ridden and stop working out of the fear of not being good mothers. Luckily, we both just know this in theory as both our partners are very supportive as well as our families and in-laws.
In making a decision every day on whether to be a mother or a wife, how do you manage to take out time for yourself?
Shreya: I think Farah is better at finding time for herself. But I keep Saturdays as my sacred days- I sleep in, I chill out, I do not work (if I can avoid it), sometimes I hang out with my friends if I can. And also I steal ‘me moments’ when I am engrossed in my plants in my mini-balcony garden.
Farah: I find it really important to meditate and work out and if I can’t maintain this schedule than I also cannot manage to be a business person, an entrepreneur, a mother. My “me time” is also essential. In the evenings, you’ll find me with my yoga mat.
Well, that’s what I would call a balanced and sorted life. What is it that you want your daughters to learn from your journey so far?
Farah: I want our girls to grow up inspired knowing that like their mothers, they too should explore life, find things they would like to do and not let people or their narrow-minded thoughts hinder them. They need to know that they have such choices in life.
First published on Jul 6, 2018.