After two successful careers, Vandana Mohindra is following her mother's footsteps to solve skin problems through Dr Monica MD. Read her inspiring #PassionToPaycheck story below.
Passion to excel often runs in families. And if you have a parent who was inspirational, then chances are the offspring would also have a similar career trajectory. Three trajectories in Vandana Mohindra’s case. Initially, she put in several years working as a senior travel book editor for Dorling Kindersley’s Eyewitness Travel Guides. Then came a second career as a wildlife conservationist, writing on the subject for magazines such as Outlook Traveller, India Today and Nat Geo Traveller. And being a contributing author for a book, Vandana Mohindra certainly had made a name for herself.
For anyone with degrees in film and television production and environmental management, being a travel book editor and a wildlife conservationist is a great place to be.
But in Vandana’s case, the inspirational relationship her famous mother had with her patients was the spark that lit her current fire. For, her mother, Dr Monica Mohindra, is a successful dermatologist with over 30 years of experience. While growing up, Vandana had observed how her mother always gave her best. This central experience inspired her to leave her multifaceted career path to start Dr Monica MD.
Starting on the shop floor
When she started to work with her mother, learning medicine wasn’t an option for Vandana, so she thought of herself as the old-style ‘compounder’, learning how to make creams and lotions that cured extreme skin conditions. “The biggest advantage of following my passion has been to be able to work alongside my mother,” she says.
The most rewarding part of the job, according to her, is being able to interact with patients who received the physical and mental benefits of healing and the incredible feeling of being part of the team that contributed to alleviating their suffering.
Also crucial were the strict guidelines laid down by her mother like the safety of the therapies, and ensuring that patients gets the best care by using the purest ingredients that are hypoallergenic and animal-cruelty free.
Today, the icing on the cake for Vandana is that now she is her own boss and earns while doing what makes her happy.
When work becomes worship
Constantly thinking and planning for the business even during the late hours and weekends is normal for Vandana. The deep job satisfaction and the motivation it provides outweighs everything else.
But it is not all roses. As a mere employee, one’s responsibilities are always less; but in case of an entrepreneur, one is responsible for everything that happens in the company.
“The big challenge is in keeping motivation levels high on a daily basis and carrying the entire team with me. I find that if I have a bad day or week, then the team’s momentum also slumps.”
Round-the-clock, every day
For Vandana, a regular day starts with fulfilling the day's orders, responding to customers and dispensing therapies via courier. Next comes following up on social media platforms. This includes their own website, which is an online shop, their Facebook page, and various online forums they are a part of.
A crucial part of this is monitoring online market platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart and PayTM where Dr Monica MD’s products are listed for sale.
She also brainstorms with her team on issues such as advertising strategies. A good chunk of her time is spent with customers online or on the phone about what would best suit their skin. This is a key component of her business model: providing the best advice and care to customers.
Reimagining the doctor-patient relationship
The main aim Vandana had was to “change the relationship between doctor and patient to one between brand and customer.” For more than 30 years, Dr Monica’s line of skin therapies went directly from doctor to patient via the hospital pharmacy.
For this, Vandana had to create and bring together a lean team of skilled people and then steer them to create a brand that would stand amongst world-class clinical skincare brands. And this she had to do without any VC (venture capital) funding.
As this was her very first business, it involved a very steep learning curve, posing a challenge every step of the way. Vandana says that she was “lucky to have great advisors and the spirit to learn as the business went along”. And now, with her team, she has created an efficient model of business that is ready to grow more.
Towards a brighter future, together
Currently, her biggest challenge is scaling up. She has some great plans that include creating a bigger online presence, increasing their knowledge and building an effective on-ground activation programme. Once they are satisfied with a robust online presence, she hopes to apply for VC funding.
With her long-term vision of creating an ethical and affordable skincare brand that provides safe, effective and simple therapies to treat everyday skin problems, Dr Monica MD isn't focusing on merely keeping up with the industry standards; instead, if possible, she wants to go one step further and set new standards in skincare.