Professional life takes a backseat for many women post childbirth but for these mothers, it was their starting point. The fourth edition of Kadaiveedhi - an exclusive mothers' only expo was held here in the city on February 24 and 25 at Shankara Hall on TTK road, Chennai.
Ranging from pre-loved books to keepsakes fashioned out of breast milk, the expo had young mothers setting up stalls, some with products handmade by them.
Kadaiveedhi is the result of a secret Facebook group called Smart Mommies that grew to nurture entrepreneurial dreams in young mothers.
Sangeetha Arunachalam, a chartered accountant, started the group on Facebook in October 2013. “I started Smart Mommies with just a couple of my friends who had delivered their babies around the same time that I did, mainly to discuss childbirth, child care and parenting experiences. Slowly the group started expanding and that’s how we’ve grown,” she says.
The group now has over 33,000 members and is continuously growing. Smart Mommies Business Magnates is another offshoot of the Smart Mommies Facebook group that channelises their entrepreneurial streak.
From discussing all things under the sun to selling handmade products, this exclusive mothers' only group has taken it upon themselves to support each other and to not let motherhood be a deterrent for their entrepreneurial dreams.
Preethy Vijay who runs Momma’s Milky Love shares how she found an interest in handcrafting breast milk jewellery and keepsakes for mothers through the group.
“I first began making breast milk jewellery in September 2016. Upon finding that women prefer keepsakes, I’ve also started making those. I also use baby’s first tuft of hair, first nail clippings, etc to make tokens for mothers. We can also use umbilical cord in these jewellery,” she explains.
Surya Preethy of Mom and Kids Books shares that with the support from the group she has been able to continue what she was doing before childbirth. "My father owns and runs a bookstore and a library in Madurai and so I've been in the business for quite some time. After having children and moving to the city, I thought that I may not be able to continue selling books but I'm so glad to have found a platform for my interest," she says.
Mom and Kids Books sell pre-loved books in great condition, imported from countries like the USA and the UK. They also have cardboard puzzles, educational toys and new books.
Surya shares that her personal experiences of having taught her own children how to read and write have helped her understand how such books and toys work for children.
Anusha, who runs Handy Handmade Stuff, which offers a whole range of products right from organisers and pouches to foot scrubs, has set up her first stall at Kadaiveedhi.
"Such platforms helps us gain more independence while continuing to do what we love," she says. Anusha makes skin-friendly mosquito repellents, lip balms, lotion bars, scrubs, etc.
Kadaiveedhi also has an exclusive e-commerce portal, launched in October last year, that offers almost everything under the sun. From printing cards to photography workshops, you name it they’ve got it.
“The highlight is that all these services are exclusively provided by mothers. This is a mothers' only group after all. Kadaiveedhi offers products, services and events as well,” says Sangeetha.
Sripadma Ganapathi of Give Birth Naturally is also an active member of the Smart Mommies group. With a degree in hypnobirthing from the UK, Padma organises workshops and counselling sessions for mothers who wish to enrol themselves.
“In Chennai, the awareness is quite low when it comes to hypnobirthing. However, most women who come to me are those who seek it so I can see that it’s gaining some base here,” she says.
The team behind Smart Mommies shares that they plan to make Kadaiveedhi Expo a monthly affair. They also hope to gain international traction by supporting all Mompreneur groups around the globe.
Check out their website or you can also download the app.