I became an entrepreneur because of my daughters: Malika Sadani, founder & CEO, The Moms Co.
It is said that necessity is the mother of all invention… and here is the story of a mother, who when faced with a common dilemma that all parents encounter-a dearth of natural skin care products for their children in the market, decided to set up her own enterprise to produce exactly that- naturally, safely and on her own steam
Anushruti Singh May 8, 2021
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Malika Sadani, an erstwhile banker, decided to become an entrepreneur, when she struggled to find what was best for her children. After talking with other mothers dealing with the same issue, she imbibed enough encouragement to launch her own brand—The Moms Co. in 2017. The brand has over the years made a name for itself as a homegrown company producing toxin-free, natural, personal care products for moms, babies and millennials.
Today her company is one of the fastest growing D2C brands, which has tripled the traffic on their website. Also, their revenue has doubled as compared to pre-COVID times. With a fresh infusion of capital from a third round of funding of $10 million, led by existing investors DSG Partners and Saama, the brand is forging ahead and aims to reach the Rs 100 crore mark with 5 million consumers in their kitty.
In a one-on-one conversation with SME Futures, Malika Sadani, founder & CEO, The Moms Co. sheds light on how motherhood changed her career path.
How did motherhood compel you to become an entrepreneur?
The Moms Co. started from a personal struggle of not being able to find good quality, natural and safe products for my daughters.
It was during my stay in London that I got introduced to the harmful effects of chemicals used in skincare products. On moving back to India, I realised it was very hard to find great quality, natural products that were safe and effective. I ended up importing products for my daughters. I spoke to over 200 moms, only to realise that they too were struggling with the same problem and depended on their friends and family’s travel plans to stock up on their stuff. The ones who couldn’t were on a constant lookout for better options for their kids.
Why should something like finding a good, safe lotion or a wash be that difficult? Why wasn’t there a brand looking to cater to the need that moms had for good quality, natural products that are safe and effective? That was when the idea to create a brand that can truly be a partner to a mom’s journey into motherhood came alive.
Tell us about the evolution of The Moms Co. thus far.
The Moms Co. started in 2017 with a mission to help moms like myself make safe, natural and effective choices for themselves and their families. We started with a range of toxin-free, natural products for baby care and skincare during pregnancy.
Our products focus on addressing those concerns that new moms and moms-to-be face during pregnancy such as stretch marks, swollen feet and skin dryness. Our baby care range has products like tear-free, soap-free baby washes and shampoos, talc-free baby powders, a diaper rash cream with 15 per cent zinc oxide and a mineral-based sunscreen, and they are all hypoallergenic and dermatologically tested.
Today, we have over 35 SKUs across hair care, face care and body care that address a wide range of concerns like pigmentation, dark circles, early signs of ageing and more. All our products are dermatologically tested, Australia certified toxin-free, certified Made Safe by Safe Cosmetics Australia and PETA certified cruelty-free.
Entrepreneurship is the trend now. Was your journey difficult or easy? What were the challenges faced and lessons learned during this phase?
The journey to becoming an entrepreneur wasn’t easy.
I worked as a banker before I decided to become an entrepreneur. Initially, it was difficult to get people to align with our vision. Since we are very conscious of our product formulations and have set standards, they had to adhere to our standards and in a manner that had not been done before. Being a woman entrepreneur had its own set of challenges as people did not take me seriously.
However, over the last 4 years, we have come a long way – from fighting people and their perceptions to getting people to imbibe the mission and ensuring that it is reflected in everything that we do. People have now started believing in our vision of creating high-quality products that do not compromise on the integrity of any ingredient or product that we produce.
How and why does being an entrepreneur make you a great mother?
I want my daughters to think of me as someone who had a dream and was resilient enough to stick with it and achieve it. I always tell my daughters that the world is their canvas, go paint it. I want them to dream big and have the courage to pursue their dreams and I want to set the right example for them. I became an entrepreneur because of them, and they take immense pride in the work that I do.
Being a mom boss, tell us about the life hacks that you employ due to the WFH scenario.
I believe in following the 3 mantras – Discipline, Routine and Prioritizing.
I work on 4-5 projects at any given time and just allocating time for all and planning my day helps me efficiently work through them all. Over the years I have also gotten better at adding everything to my calendar and also at delegating. It helps to have efficient and dedicated teams at work which makes it easier to delegate tasks and focus on important things.
I do the same with the girls! In order to ensure that my daughters are able to use their time productively, we make a list of activities that they can do when they are bored and note down the details of the extracurricular activities that they attend. There are days allotted to specific activities which my daughters enjoy such as dancing, playing board games and watching movies. The time we spend as a family doing these activities helps us bond. I catch up on work or make calls once my daughters are in bed which is relatively early.
Despite the progress women have made in Indian society, do you think we are still battling subtle stereotypes in India? Especially when women become mompreneurs. What needs to change?
It is unfortunate that women are judged for their gender and have to work 10 times harder than men to prove themselves.
There have been times when I have walked out of meetings, and I have changed as an individual to handle the kind of treatment women receive in the start-up space. I have accepted the difference with which people treat women and the only way to deal with it is to let your work speak for itself.
Women have a harder time in securing venture capital than men do, what was your experience as a mompreneur?
In the past, investors used to ask questions about whether women entrepreneurs would be able to manage their work and their personal lives effectively, given how challenging both roles can be. However, times are changing and now we have successful women entrepreneurs running businesses in all fields. That has opened up conversations and over the last few years, getting money has become easier as well.
What would you like to say to those mompreneurs who are just at the beginning of their journey and are experiencing some doubts?
I went through my own phase of doubting myself as a mom when I started off as an entrepreneur because I was able to spend very little time with my daughters. However, over time, I have become better at this, and I realised that it wasn’t the number of hours that I spent in a day with my kids that mattered but what did matter was how we spent that time. We would spend an hour a day doing an interesting activity – it could be reading a book or watching their favourite film.
At the end of the day, it is important to Believe in Yourself.
If you don’t believe in yourself, you can’t expect others to believe in you either. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Women often don’t ask for help because they are afraid of being judged and end up spending a lot of time figuring out the answers by themselves. No one is expected to have all the answers and I strongly believe that asking for help is a sign of strength, not of weakness.
The pandemic has been an economic disaster for women. However, many took advantage of the situation and started working for themselves. Can this be a turning point for women entrepreneurs in India? Your comments.
The cost of starting a business has become significantly low in the last few years, thanks to the digital revolution. Access to the internet and social media channels have made it possible for women to start a business easily from their homes. I am sure that this trend is going to continue growing in the near future. With working from home becoming the new normal, we should see a lot more women setting up and starting their own businesses from their homes.
What are your plans going ahead, and the roadmap for The Moms Co. What exciting things are you working on?
We wish to add millions of other moms to our mission and help them make safe, natural and effective choices for themselves and their families. We will continue to focus on product development and add many more products to our portfolio.