Reena Sujai is a mompreneur and founder of an online handloom clothing brand – Hastavem. She turned out to be a womanpreneur, during her maternal break from her full time job as a software engineer. Today, She is a woman entrepreneur who also runs her family while parenting her two kids and managing a full time job. Reena shares with WomenpreneursOfIndia – WOI about her business journey.
Stay focused on what you do, never compare or analyze your work with others. Being honest and dedicated always helps.
I am from Mumbai, after completing my graduation and I landed up in my dream MNC as a software engineer. I decided to take a break from my corporate job of 5 years to be with my firstborn, but never wanted to quit my IT career.
As coming from a middle class family of 6, with appa being the only breadwinner, expenses for my engineering degree where quite challenging, I never wanted it to go in vain so was determined to get back to work. Just then after a 2 years break as i was about to join work Baby S came in as a sweet surprise, due to which my 2 years career break turned to 5 years.
I was happy 7 months pregnant mom with a 2 years old, most of the times thinking about my career! A homemaker juggling between chores in a joint family, fulltime amma to my 2 years old!! Entire day was of the same routine work to cook, clean, change nappies and to take care of the pregnant me.
It became clear to me securing a job in MNC with a 5 years career gap is not going to be easy, while the joy of welcoming my second baby was immense. But, the thought – I will retire as a homemaker, kept bothering me. Such thoughts actually put me in depression and it was affecting my pregnancy. I was determined to do something to destress myself and that is when businesses through WhatsApp and Instagram where gaining momentum around 2 years back. I expressed my thoughts to my better half and he said, “why don’t you start something on your own” & tipped me of about #iwearhandloom initiative by Textile Minister Smriti Irani.
I was in my 2nd trimester when I started Hastavem. I used the sleepless nights(Thanks to my baby) to do research on handloom, connecting with weavers and setting up other elements. Our 3rd baby Hastavem was officially announced on the start of my 3rd Trimester, that is on my Son’s 3rd birthday – August 15. And, my first customer was my Mother. Hastavem has been my motivation and relaxotherapy during my daily routine.
Hastavem focuses only on handloom Sarees that come along with the handloom mark, we try to give them a twist by clubbing the sarees with quirky blouse fabrics. Handlooms are always considered to be expensive. Hastavem takes care of that, as our motto is ‘Handloom for Everyone!’
The most difficult part for me was to connect with the authentic weavers. Most of the times, we were almost tricked by agents and resellers pretending to be weavers. We always do a ground check and if feasible, we visit them personally. We take the products only if they provide or have a handloom tag.
As a brand, we are still growing and during this course of time we have experienced a lot of unforgettable moments. But, the moment I always cherish was in January 2018. Our total orders/shipments for the month was just 18, which turned to 50 dispatch per week in May 2018! And, it has been always constant till date. But, It is not as such most of the times, I am answering DM’s while nursing my 2years old. Mostly, I work when both the kids are not around me, they are always my first priority.
I was a timid and shy child in school days, Now this startup has boosted my confidence and makes me feel more independent. It feels good to hear when my friends and clients consider me as an inspiration and how they also would love to do something similar. But, throughout this journey in business, one thing that I still struggle is to be Organized!!
When Hastavem was at its peak and blooming, I had to move to USA with my family in 2017. It was challenging to manage and coordinate with my team, weavers, vendors and everything along with a fulltime 9-5 job in USA. But, my team, family, friends and my spouse had been my support system!
Most of the time, we often get queries from new mommies who express their interest in starting a home based business. They tell us about how they miss their work life and wish to start something new. I just have only one tip/advice to them – “The only thing that is stopping you is YOU”. Don’t stop with thinking, but right away implement it, eventually things will workout!
Hastavem was started just to destress myself from my daily routine work, but it has been the most beautiful thing that happened to me. My startup is able to support great initiative like- The Bags of Palagulapate, Ahambhumika of Bhopal, being part of #reloomkerela. Connecting with the weavers, curating the products, Handling customer queries, receiving positive & encouraging feedback from them gives me an immense satisfaction. Moreover, Hastavem for me is like, finding that long lost best friend who is always there for you.
Thank you Reena. You are an outstanding mompreneur handling a business and a full-time job, all the while parenting your kids. And, it is remarkable that your business supports initiatives like #makeinindia and #iwearhandloom.
We are glad to feature your entrepreneurial journey on WOI. We wish you all the best for your future endeavours. Keep Inspiring!
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