Brooklyn mom Rashmi Budhram started her own business, Mamma Couture, in 2009, and now produces a line of stylish diaper and hand bags. We sat down with Budhram to discuss what inspired her, how she balances work and family life, and what advice she has for other aspiring mompreneurs.
|Quick Facts: Rashmi Budhram lives in Brooklyn with her husband of seven years, Arjune, their daughter Anjali, 4, and son Arin, 2.
Rashmi Budhram has an affinity for beautiful handbags. When she had children, carrying a bulky diaper bag seemed to clash with her lifestyle. She tried to consolidate, stashing diapers, wipes, and snacks in her own handbag, but it proved to be messy - and ultimately ruined all of her bags. Frustrated by what she saw on the market, Budhram started to design her own stylish bags and in 2009 Momma CoutureTM, the first ever line of fully insulated diaper bags, was born.
All Momma CoutureTM bags are functional and fashionable, 100 percent CPSIA-compliant for lead and phthalate regulations, and some carry a place to keep wipes moist without having to tote an extra case. Sold in stores nationwide and various online retailers, Momma CoutureTM has also garnered a celebrity fan following in stars like Ali Landry, Tiffani Thiessen, and Tisha Campbell.
What were you doing professionally before you launched?
I was working for a division of a supermarket chain building financial products and in-store promotions. My career has been focused on product development and everything that goes into that. So when I had the idea for MC, I knew exactly how to get it out.
So it was a seamless transition?
Yes and no. When you're working for yourself, it's with you 24/7, 365 days a year. You have to rely on yourself for how you're going to manage your time, especially when you have a family. The most fun aspect, however, is that I don't have any red tape, and there are freedoms that come with it.
Were you looking for a career change, or was it the idea that made you move forward?
The idea came, and I think it was just timing. I actually designed my first bag in 2007 and I didn't do anything about it because day-to-day life was happening. I started interviewing for a new job when my son was two months old, but nothing seemed right. And I thought, "It's now or never."
What were the steps involved to getting your business off the ground?
I looked at my competitors and I spoke to buyers to find out if it would be sellable. I also started talking to moms, which was the most important thing because I was going against the grain - very neutral colors, different types of bodies, and it was different from what is traditionally on the shelves. It was a lot of research, hitting the pavement, and talking to anyone who would talk to back to me.
What do you wish you would have known before you launched the company?
So many things! I wish I would have known that it was going to be so much pressure. I thought I really could do it singlehandedly, but it's really like having a child - you need a village. Also, I've had some people come into my business and do wrong by me. I wish I would have had better foresight in picking my partners.
What has been the biggest key to your success?
My determination to make it work, and my family and friends around me. Even when I want to throw in the towel, they tell me to keep going.
What's the best part of your job?
That I have the flexibility with my kids. I don't have to answer to anybody, and I can really focus on my kids when I'm with them.
What's one piece of advice you have for our moms who might want to start their own business?
Talk to anybody you can because everyone loves to talk about their business, who they know, and what they do. So many women are so scared to fail, but I say it's better to have tried than to go back and say, "What if?"
Since your job is 24/7, how do you find a balance?
My family kind of imposes it on me, especially when my kids run in [to my office]. I have to be self-restrained and say [to myself] that it's time to close the computer, it's okay to put the phone down, and people will still be there. I find the balance through self-discipline.
We're looking to launch a new product next year and right now, we're focused on growing our retail sales.
For more information about Rashmi Budhram and Momma CoutureTM, visit www.mommacouture.com.