One of the greatest parts about becoming a mom is meeting and connecting with other moms in the area. I am part of some really incredible networks of local moms; these women are not only amazingly supportive and generous, but they are so unbelievably inspiring. From balancing motherhood with PhD and post-doctoral programs to starting their own businesses to running households with incredible grace and creativity, they never cease to awe me.
Sailaja Joshi is one of these women. She is mom to an adorable toddler and is pregnant with her second child. Not only is she a devoted and caring and extraordinarily creative mom, but she started her own series of children’s books! When Sailaja, whose parents are originally from India, was pregnant with her now toddler and was putting together her baby registry she realized something was missing: she could not find books that reflected her heritage. She explains, “I was planning my library themed baby shower and I was sorta shocked at the fact that there were really very few books on the market place that were culturally AND developmentally appropriate for a young child.” She decided to do something about that and created Bharat Babies, “developmentally appropriate books that tell the stories of India’s heritage for children from birth through elementary school” (quoted from their website).
I interviewed Sailaja so she could tell you a little more about the books, the journey that led her here and what it’s like being a mom and a creative entrepreneur.
Who do you think can benefit from these books?
These books can benefit all sorts of people! I’m excited for them to be an educational resource both in the home as well as the classroom. We’re developing tools and resources to help parents and teachers alike, who are not of Indian origin, to bring diverse stories into both the classroom and home. I’m also excited for Indian-American children to be able to see themselves and their culture reflected in stories.
What has been the most interesting part about starting a line of books based on a vision you had? What have been some of the challenges?
I think the many, many, barriers to entry. I come from a marketing research/academic background so producing children’s book is really new to me. However, what has been amazing is the amount of people who have been willing to help. I’m especially thankful for the support from Northeastern’s IDEA lab, who really have provided me with all kinds of support that has really helped me bring Bharat Babies to the next level.
How do you balance entrepreneurship with being a mom?
OH MAN! This is one of my biggest challenges. I spend most of my time taking meetings between 12-3 (nap time) and after 8pm. Everyone I talk with is super accommodating but sometimes it also means calling on my family to watch my daughter at a moments notice so I can talk with an investor. I also, cut myself some slack. Really, I can’t do everything and seeing as I’m pregnant with my second child, I sometimes really need to rest. So, I do.
How do you infuse creativity into your life and your parenting?
Great question! I love being able to be part of the art process for each of the books, working with our Creative Director and authors to create really beautiful illustrations that speak to a young audience.
What is something people might not know about you?
I spent two years in Germany at the European School of Business and have a degree from that university. I’m pretty fluent in German and miss it to this day!
Also, prior to being an entrepreneur, I was in a PhD program, planning on becoming a college professor. That changed pretty fast!
What is one piece of advice you would offer for other moms looking to start their own entrepreneurial endeavor?
Take a deep breath, and cut yourself some slack. You cannot do it all, so celebrate the small victories and take time for yourself.
You can pre-order Bharat Babies’ first book, Hunaman and the Orange Sun, estimated to ship in May 2015, and receive a special limited edition print.
Sailaja N. Joshi has been a passionate volunteer in the Hindu Youth community for over twenty years, and is an accomplished academic with degrees from Northeastern University, Harvard University, and Simmons College. She has also worked with multiple start ups, helping them to refine their brand identity and develop their marketing communications. Sailaja’s recent transition to founder and CEO of Bharat Babies is therefore a natural extension of her prior interests and expertise. Her ambition is to have Bharat Babies be an active participant in the field of multicultural children’s literature, with a focus on cultivating a set of unique educational materials that address the needs of the growing Asian-Indian diaspora.
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