Meet Mom Entrepreneur-Meghana from Beaute Naturelle

As part of our series on women entrepreneurs in India, I reached out to a lot of women (and moms) who are running a thriving business, taking up entrepreneurial challenges and shaping the future of our country. In India where many women are still existing on margins it is always refreshing to see women and especially moms who are foraging new paths and creating avenues for themselves and others. I will be featuring my interviews with these awesome women so that you can find your inspiration and motivation to create an entrepreneur life for yourself.

Today, I am so happy to be interviewing the supremely talented Meghana Chaudhary Joshi who is the owner of Beaute Naturelle, India’s first internet boutique for handpicked nature-inspired personal care products. She recently opened her brick and mortar store in Pune, so if you are ever there, do drop in her elegant and chic boutique.

Meghana was among the first business owners who had reached out to me when I was still a green thumb in the blogging world. She has always been supportive of me and I count her among my good friends in the digital world. Meghana is also mom to a spirited and beautiful daughter, wife to a very supportive husband and extremely passionate about living the eco-friendly life while looking irresistibly gorgeous.

Let’s get to know Meghana better.

Please tell us how you started your entrepreneurial journey. What were you doing before you took the path less travelled?

My formal education couldn’t be more different from what I’m doing now. I have an M.S. in the Biomedical Sciences from the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. I have worked in lab and clinical research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

I’d been in Science for years, but the ever-changing river of life brings new opportunities and viewpoints. I’m of an individualistic nature and thrive on challenges, so the idea of having my own business was pretty alluring. One fine Sunday morning, during a brainstorming session with my husband on possible alternative careers, the idea of Beauté Naturelle began to form: a boutique for hand-made, Earth-friendly, Nature-derived, personal care products not tested on animals. And a chance to give back to our nurturing planet at the same time. Seemed right up my alley!

The discipline, diligence and attention to detail carried over from my former life as a scientist have proved invaluable in life as an entrepreneur. Having worked with patients in a large hospital setting, I’ve been steeped in the human element- another key factor for the success of any people-oriented venture.

What were the initial days of your business like? Was it smooth sailing from day one or did you have to face some hiccups initially?

It’s been an awesome journey with significant personal, professional growth, much learning, since the launch. Logistics wise, we were fairly well sorted out within the first week itself. We undertook active efforts to incorporate customer feedback into our website and processes. Our promotional efforts for Beauté Naturelle are generally well received. People appreciate the innovativeness of our idea and the professionalism of our approach. Customers who once sampled the hand-picked products and standard services such as a secure online payment gateway, Cash on Delivery and convenient door-delivery at our e-store, invariably returned and spread the word.

As a Mom entrepreneur was your journey different from other entrepreneurs? How did you make “being a mom” work for you in your business?

You’d be amused at how often I hear, “You’re a MOM???! You don’t look like it!” I suppose I’m a good ambassador for the Beauté Naturelle brand! {***I can vouch for that***}. Mom-preneurs would agree, though, that the added challenge of juggling multiple roles provides some of the thrust for making her venture, her baby, a success. I think being a mother sometimes has a very grounding effect, making you fearless, and giving you a realistic and practical approach to most things, including business!

What was your biggest challenge you faced till now and how did you overcome it?

Despite the growing number of online shopping sites out there, mobile shopping, etc. the average Indian still prefers to walk into a shop or mall and do the needful. It’s difficult to alter a mindset, even if the alternative is really convenient- it has to be experienced to be adopted. We encourage customers to try the online service once- we stay in constant touch if they have any difficulties and guide them throughout the process. Once they see how transparent and easy it is, it’s natural to want to return, and many have.

What is a typical day like for you? I am sure the readers will love to know how a mom entrepreneur manages her daily routine.

Most moms, entrepreneurs or not, would nod in agreement when I say there are “17 different things to be accomplished before breakfast!!!” Ours, that is!. But once the family is on their way to school and work, I can go about preparing for my workday. I divide my time between managing my boutique and my daughter’s after-school needs. Workdays are long, as the boutique is open till 9 PM in the evening and I’m often too wired for a couple of hours after that to start unwinding.

How do you balance the tightrope between work and family?

Balancing work with family needs is a constant challenge in our lives! For any woman entrepreneur, having a reliable support system in place before committing to the project is absolutely key. I have family support, and competent assistants to help cover all bases.

Who are your biggest supporters helping you in your business and in leading a mom entrepreneur’s life?

I must acknowledge here my husband, mom and MIL who are very much a part of the Beauté Naturelle team- they’ve always believed in my idea and continually give me the gift of time, flexibility and the inspiration to pursue this venture.

Please recommend three resources Books/Dvds/Courses etc. that might help other moms start their entrepreneurial journey.

Being the rare entrepreneur who entered the fray without reading a single book on the subject, I’m not sure I can give a good answer to this! My 3 resources have been thorough product scouting, well-honed interpersonal skills and good old-fashioned street sense. Working knowledge of budgeting and accounting comes with the territory and I read business-related articles online from time to time.

What would be your one piece advice for moms who want to make it big as Mom entrepreneurs?

The pace will be frantic at times but keep your focus…and your faith! Take breaks to avoid burnout. The 24/7 demands of work and family life WILL collide, so you MUST have a reliable support system in place before you take the plunge.

One thing you wish someone had told you before you set out as an entrepreneur?

ONE thing? Ha ha.

Connect with Meghana