Fired from her corporate job after maternity break, this woman entrepreneur started a sustainable lifestyle brand
While most entrepreneurs talk of the “Eureka” moment, a bitter experience led Anamika Sengupta to start Almitra Sustainables, a sustainable lifestyle brand.
“I was working in a managerial role with an IT giant, and was penalised for ‘being a woman’ and a ‘new mother’. I became a victim of a sexist corporate company, which refused to accept me after my maternity leave,” she recalls.
With a lot of sadness and angst, Anamika said goodbye to the corporate world and embarked on her journey as an entrepreneur along with her husband, Biplab. And, finally, she found her true calling.
The journey of making sustainable resources available for others started with motherhood. Anamika and her husband decided to raise their son, Neo, in a natural environment, and began seeking alternatives to everyday synthetic materials.
Towards an eco-friendly lifestyle
As a new mother, Anamika launched Almitra Tattva, a babywearing art studio in 2014, with the objective of re-inventing the art of attachment parenting.
Tapping into the rich handloom heritage of India, Almitra Tattva works closely with local artisans across the country to create woven wraps for infants using indigenous Indian weaves. It is now a well-known global name in babywearing, with a huge market presence in Europe and exports to over 52 countries.
“The struggle to eliminate plastic and harsh chemical/synthetic products was a real challenge as these have become normal. This made us empathise with other parents and individuals who are keen but helpless, due to lack of available options that are natural, sustainable, and free of harmful chemicals.
“That’s when we decided to start Almitra Sustainables in 2018 as a brand that not only offers earth-friendly solutions but also leads the transformation to create a more pure, natural, and sustainable world for future generations,” Anamika says.
With a honour’s degree in philosophy and a PG diploma in mass media communication, the Mumbai-based entrepreneur has always been drawn towards environmental education. She studied herpetology and canine behaviour, and imparted knowledge to people through workshops conducted for various organisations and NGOs. She is also a strong advocate of conserving biodiversity and a believer in the power of growing your own food.
Sustainable everyday products
This “one-world” belief forms the core of Almitra Sustainables, which offers a range of earth-friendly lifestyle alternatives, right from bamboo toothbrushes to reusable straws. It also leverages coir to make essential everyday products.
“We work with coir clusters and turn coconut coir waste into innovative products like coir scrubbing pads and body scrubs, including Tawashis and body brushes. We have more than 50 possible options to embark on a more conscious and informed sustainable journey. The drive to find a substitute to every plastic article challenges us as a couple to do more while also maintaining our minimalistic consumerism approach to life and business,” Anamika says.
The brand works with a support group of manufacturers, which it used to gain momentum in the business during the early days. So, just like its philosophy towards products, the business has also been sustainable as even before investing, it already had a ROI in terms of the support of a positive community supporting them in creating a range of products for the masses.
The products are available on its own website and other popular ecommerce websites like Amazon.
Focus on creativity
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the entrepreneurs were clear about the need to support their immediate community and started working from home and continued paying staff their salaries.
“This helped us build a close-knit family and our performance as a team has been the best during the pandemic,” Anamika says.
Today, apart from raising her six-year-old son in a complete barefoot, nature-friendly environment, planting and managing a flourishing regenerative edible garden, and working towards both her brands, Anamika is also an active participant in conversations around green lifestyle, conscious consumerism, and natural parenting. She has also been a speaker at the Asian Women in Leadership Summit, TedX, and has a short film made on her work by the NFDC.
“When women embrace motherhood, it’s overwhelming as your body and mind is coping with a new role and a whole new world. Many also feel that it’s the end of their creative self, but in my personal experience, I feel a woman’s creativity is at its peak during motherhood, and women need to believe in their ability as creators and not let anything or anyone deter them from their paths.”
As for the future, Anamika has one singular aim. “Our aim is to grow naturally,” she says.
Edited by Teja Lele Desai