We get excited when people tell us that the Women in Biz Network helped them with their business. Women in Biz member Anjum Choudhry Nayyar of masalamommas.com is one of those people (read on to find out how). With the official launch party for masalamommas.com just a week away, she is certainly at the top of her game. Anjum’s goal for the launch "is to bring the South Asian mom community together and allow the conversation to continue off line as they meet each other".
1. Tell us about your business.
masalamommas.com is an online magazine for South Asian moms and moms-to-be. masalamommas.com explores concerns that you mention over chai with the girls but never really resolve — all injected with a bit of humour and fun. Whether you’re a South Asian working mom, a masalamomma married into a South Asian family or someone who just wants to incorporate a little South Asian flare into your family’s lifestyle, masalamommas offers a bit of everything.
It started as an idea 4 years ago, but it wasn’t until the last year that the idea went from a thought in my mind to paper. In fact it was the Women in Biz Conference that helped me jump start start my business plan and get it going.
With stories on health, parenting, culture and more, masalamommas.com also features video and audio interviews with experts who offer information and tips to readers. The magazine also features the voices of South Asian moms themselves who talk about cultural challenges and triumphs while juggling being a mom and a woman.
I also think that being a South Asian mom doesn’t make you special, it just adds another layer to your parenting juggle. Any family or community that is entrenched in a rich culture will face similar issues and I just happen to be part of one of those communities.
2. Other than being an entrepreneur, who are you? Tell us about yourself.
I am a mother of two, a daughter, Annika who is 5 and a son, Liam who is 2. Living in Thornhill and communting downtown to my full time job in communications. I was a TV journalist for well over 9 years, working in Winnipeg, Barrie, Toronto and I went to grad school for my Masters of Science in Journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago. The highlight of my year there was spending 3 months in Washington D.C. reporting for CBS (Wisconsin Affiliate) during the Lewinsky-Clinton scandal. 700 camera crews from all over the world parked outside the Supreme Court House definitely kept things hopping!
3. What motivated you to go into business for yourself?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs so I was always encouraged to do something of my own, it just takes some time to get into that headspace and have the confidence in an idea I believed in. I think it is so satisfying to know you’ve nurtured something of your own that could have the potential for success.
4. How do you overcome challenges and obstacles in your business?
I completely believe in asking questions, checking in with experts and other mompreneurs with far greater experience who can offer insight. There’s no shame in asking a stupid question because likely at some point we’ve all been in the same boat. As a journalist by profession, I ask questions of others all the time so it comes naturally to be inquisitive and learn from others’ experiences. Having a strong support network of friends and especially family is critical I think when it comes to obstacles. My husband is completely hands-on when it comes to the kids, so if I have to manage an issue or roadblock, he’ll pinch hit whenever possible. Both my parents are in business so I also rely on them for advice.
5. What are your greatest strengths as an entrepreneur?
I think I have a good ability to multi-task, as moms you have to have that ability, right? I also learn pretty quickly and being a journalist helps because you’re able to suss out a good ‘story’ or opportunity and run with it.
6. What are you most passionate about in your business?
I’m really passionate about empowering other moms with South Asian connections. That was the reason I started masalamommas.com in the first place because I believe that there needs to be a forum to share and inspire each other with stories of triumph when you’re juggling parenting and cultural expectations.
7. What is one piece of helpful advice you would give to other entrepreneurs?
Use a timemap! It’s the best thing I learned from the MomBiz Retreat led by Shelagh Cummins and Lara Galloway.