A post-graduate in Cosmetology, Amruta Ram was happily employed as PR and marketing lead with international skincare brand Dermalogica. Like most mompreneurs, her entrepreneurial journey was an offshoot of motherhood. Amruta had always loved writing and after the birth of her son Ritwik, she started Mumma Diaries as a personal blog to document and share her parenting journey. This was in October 2013 and she started off by writing on generic parenting experiences like cloth diapering or dealing with toddler tantrums.
When her son turned one year, Amruta started Montessori-inspired activities at home for him. Along with writing about them, she also decided to start her YouTube channel to document and share their wonderful moments together in a video format. She was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming response on her Facebook page and YouTube channel, which motivated her to take it up to the next level. She decided to quit her job and work exclusively on her channel, which also gave her the flexibility to devote more quality time to her son. It was only later that this Mumbai girl realised she was the first Indian mother to start a YouTube channel on Montessori and Early Learning.
Though she moved to a completely new field, 33-year-old Amruta feels the shift was gradual enough and not stressful at all. She says, “My best preparation and inspiration started at home with Ritwik. I tried my hand at the Montessori style of teaching with him. Soon, I was hooked and wanted to learn the concepts in-depth, but did not have the time on hand to do a full-time course. So, I started reading a lot and one book that was a huge help was ‘The Absorbent Mind’ by Maria Montessori.”
Full throttle on the highway
Today, Mumma Diaries has more than 8,000 subscribers and is helping thousands of new parents. Based on the feedback from her viewers, Mumma Diaries today covers various child care topics like early learning, child-led learning, Montessori concepts, ‘Gentle Parenting’, DIY ways to engage the child, storage and organisation tips, and product reviews, among others.
Amruta explains, “Gentle parenting is a way to be more mindful about our children's needs, acknowledging their feelings and helping them work through them instead of ignoring them or using harsh ways of disciplining. This reduces stress on both parent and child.”
When Amruta started uploading videos on her channel, she did not know much about the technical aspects of it and some of her initial videos did not even have a thumbnail. Through trial and error, she perfected the whole process and today she has 180 videos under her belt with one video garnering as high as 1.3 lakh views. She also reviews child care products, some of which are sponsored by the brands. In a happy co-incidence, her background in cosmetology helps in reviewing child care product brands like Himalaya. The monetisation of Amruta’s channel happened very organically since making money out of it was never on her agenda. However, as the viewership increased, she could get good returns doing something she was really passionate about.
Gliding into a new lane
Since the last three years, Amruta had been creating hands-on activities for children out of her personal interest, and she wanted to extend these to other parents and educators too. So, she came up with a product line that she felt filled a gap in the market. She launched this range of retail products under the brand name of Tot Labs in July 2016. The products are heavily inspired by the Montessori philosophy which believes in respecting the child’s natural curiosity and interests.
Destination Tot Labs
Currently, she manages the entire business, right from creating and designing the products, to overseeing their manufacturing, packaging, and shipping. However, she does plan to set up a small core team soon to help her take Tot Labs and Mumma Diaries to the next level.
"The positive of doing everything on my own is that my knowledge of various aspects of business management from manufacturing to finance, digital marketing and website management has improved so much.”
While Tot Labs is still at a very nascent stage, the brand has already received more than 100 orders in the first couple of months.
Work-life balance is a constant juggling exercise. Amruta says, “It has been a journey driven by loads of passion, but it hasn't been an easy one. Being a mompreneur definitely comes with its own highs and lows. The biggest challenge has been the ‘juggling act’ of trying to find a balance between family and work.”
She spends three to five hours of quality time everyday exclusively on Tot Labs and Mumma Diaries. Occasional burning of the midnight lamp or waking up a couple of hours early to design the products does not feel like a strain since her work is her hobby and stress buster.
There will be instances in every entrepreneur’s life where things go wrong. For Amruta, a strong support system consisting of her husband, family and friends and a wonderful online community of moms (through parenting platform BabyChakra and friends she made through Mumma Diaries) have been the motivating force to get her back in the game.