This small-business bloomed after a long period of darkness, dealing with the struggles of secondary infertility. Carol and her husband Amar, are now parents to two beautiful children, and the founders of an intent-based jewelry business that uplifts women to feel their best, even when they may be going through a difficult time. Whether you need a reminder to feel optimistic, connected, worthy, or loved, Asha Blooms has a uniquely handcrafted piece that will help you to find your inner strength.
Q: How did you go from full-time ad exec to handmade jewelry designer?
I started out like many young people where after college, I thought it was important to get a job with a big firm where you worked long hours and hoped to make lots of money! I spent 12 years in the advertising industry working with big brands, being taken out for fancy lunches, and working around the clock. Eventually, I knew this wasn’t the path I wanted to continue on, but there was always some reason to stay — another promotion, another bonus etc.
I finally got up the courage to quit, and joined a non-profit whose mission really connected with me and what I wanted to be doing. I spent a year there, but when I got pregnant, I wanted to be able to spend time at home with our daughter so I decided to quit. (We don’t have paid maternity leave in the same way that Canada does). After a year and a bit at home we determined, since I was already off work, we would try for another child — and we found ourselves on an emotional rollercoaster dealing with secondary infertility.
While my first pregnancy had been quite easy, the second time around was not. It took three years, multiple losses and multiple rounds of IVF for him to be conceived. It was a very dark time for us. It brought a new perspective to our lives, and the need to do something meaningful with it.
One of the things that got me through this time, was a fertility bracelet that I wore on my wrist. While the bracelet didn’t have any magical properties, it did help me to find hope during this long and difficult journey. When our son Henry was finally born, I knew I wanted a way to give hope to other women who might be going through a difficult period in their lives and so my husband and I started Asha Blooms. While I hadn’t made bracelets since I was a child, I knew that something had spoken to me about opening this business.
Q: What were some of the initial planning steps you took to get the business off the ground?
I started taking jewelry classes from wire wrapping to beading to stringing. I took a couple metal workshops as well to understand how that part of process worked. I interviewed designers to find out how and where they sourced their ethical materials from and started to make connections in the industry.
My husband and I also started saving our money to plan for this, and had to figure out health insurance as well. We decided this was something we wanted to do together, so in January of 2018 he quit his job and we launched two months later.
Q: What are some of the pros and cons of running a business with your husband?
It took us a long time to find out how to communicate together as co-workers. Even though we are married with two kids, it’s a whole different ball game to find out how to work together on a business. I am the more creative one and my husband is the expert of efficiency. I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head all the time, and he prefers to have everything organized in a Google spreadsheet.
One thing that has really helped is starting off each morning with a daily SCRUM. This way we know what needs to be worked on and what is pressing. We also use Slack to communicate (even though we both work from home), but this helps us keep track of information and send files to each other easily. We also have our own workspaces in the house which gives us a bit of breathing room!
The benefit of working with your partner of course is that you can (hopefully) be open and honest with them — you don’t have to be PC about your feedback, and can really speak what’s on your mind. The flexibility with our children, and being able to pick up and drop off our daughter from school is amazing.
Q: How have you managed the business so far while also managing childcare?
Our oldest child is in Kindergarten full days which gives us 9:30 am to 3:30 pm covered. For our 18-month old, we are very fortunate to have my mom doing the full time childcare during those hours at our house. Without her support, we wouldn’t be able to make the business work. The only downside of course is that we can hear the noise all day, and it can be distracting at times, but we are grateful to be able to spend so much time with him and my mom.
Q: Where do you source your parts from, and how do the intentions work?
All the metals come from Rio Grande, and I select metals from the US or Italy. We pay a bit more to buy from reputable sources as we want our company to be sustainable and ethical. For the stones, I shop locally in Seattle and other trusted online sources depending on what I am looking for and then we piece them together back at our shop.
For the intentions, I reference a book on gemstones and their properties, and think about the kind of pieces I would want to wear. Right now, my favourite is, “I am enough” I say this to myself all the time.
The stones and jewelry really come back to helping you cement your beliefs about yourself. Having a physical reminder of something you can touch and feel can remind you to be strong.
Q: How has being a mom shaped your journey on becoming an entrepreneur?
I find I can let things go more easily, because I am so pressed for time with two small children in the house, I try not to sweat the small stuff about our business. Since becoming a mom, I have so much more empathy for others and their story. As an entrepreneur now myself, we try to shop more locally and support other small brands. Now I more fully appreciate their story, and their journey.
Q: What’s been the most surprising part of starting your own business?
I am so excited to wake up and tackle whatever we have to do! Before, I would dread Mondays and going to work, now I don’t have the dread anymore. I so appreciate being able to feel like this, it makes me feel amazing about the work we are doing. We want everyone to believe in themselves — and if our jewelry can help them, that’s amazing!
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Q: What’s been the most challenging part of starting your jewelry business?
Having a voice on social media has been a learning curve. I didn’t even have a personal Instagram account before opening up our branded one! I want our social media presence to be as meaningful as the jewelry, and I know it’s going to be a slow process to grow our audience.
Q: Have you had any mentors help you or inspire you along the way?
Locally I’ve joined the Business Among Moms group which started in Seattle but is now international. I go to the in-person meetings and have met a number of other women business owners with inspiring stories to share. It’s been a great sounding board and a very supportive environment to learn from other women who are rocking it!
I also joined a mastermind group for product-based businesses run by two coaches who are also moms. It’s been cool to see all the different products grow and come to market. Some of them are more established, others are in the same place I am. This is a paid group that offers 6-months of membership at a time.
Q: What’s one thing you know now that you wish you had known when you were starting out?
You can’t be everything for everyone — you have to find your voice and your niche. It’s better to sell a few pieces to your ideal customer than to try and sell to everyone. When the site first launched it was very hodgepodge. We were making a lot more varieties and styles including earrings and bracelets. We didn’t have our voice down and went live before we were ready, but at some point, you just have to start! There is always one more thing to update, one more photo you could retake, but you just have to start somewhere.
Q: What advice would you give to another mom starting out?
Don’t compare your success (or lack of) to others. There are going to be hard days, in fact it may be more difficult than when you were in your corporate job. You need to have a lot of grit in the beginning to keep going.
Start before you feel ready. Just like becoming a parent, there is never a perfect time, you just have to go for it! Be prepared to fail, as this is one of the best ways to learn. When we started out we spent money on ads that did not perform, but now it’s a data point that we have learned from.
As moms, we often put ourselves last, but you shouldn’t sell yourself short. Moms are the masters of multi-tasking and can definitely run a business.
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This is part of a series of everyday mom inspired stories who quit their desk jobs to work on their passion, all with kids in tow. If you enjoyed reading it, please leave a comment or a clap! See the full series at: medium.com/the-mompreneur
Are you a mom with an inspiring story to share? Send me an email to connect: email@example.com