Our favourite supermums

Nisthula Nagarajan
Filed on March 18, 2021
Top: Hricha Saraf, L to R: Anamika Banerjee, Aanya Aggarwal, Victoria Duncan

We interviewed four mums who are breaking conventional mum stereotypes

Empowering through compassion

Anamika Banerjee has lived a life of giving to others. With a special needs child and a full-time job, she still finds time to ride her motorbike and volunteer

About Anamika: I arrived in Dubai in 2003 when my son was two years old. We moved here as a family when my husband came to explore businesses. Back in India, I was working as an HR professional before my son was born and was actively engaged in various NGO activities like the Indian Blind Association. I was also a Red Cross volunteer during the 2001 Gujarat earthquake. I continued volunteering in Dubai as well.

I am currently working for the Inclusion Department of Gems FirstPoint School where my son studies as well. The primary responsibility of this role is to ensure that the unique needs of each of the inclusion students are communicated effectively to the school and the efforts and steps put in place by the school are well understood by their parents.?

?Hobbies: I am an avid traveller, voracious reader and also dabble in a bit of poetry.?I guess my passion for travel, and the long wide roads of UAE with the country's unique landscape made me a biker.??
Becoming a mother: It is indeed the most beautiful feeling and also the most terrifying, at the same time. Motherhood grounded me and I realised that you grow up all over again when you become one. It changed my outlook towards life and became more compassionate and more aware as a human being.??

Being a special needs mum: I would say that joy and challenges of being a special needs mum are both different and unique. In my son, Jayaditya's case, I am still touched by his innocence and purity in thoughts. At the same time, I have to grapple with his frustrations of not being able to make sense of worldly issues and his social struggles.??
UAE's support: The UAE offers tonnes of support and facilities to People of Determination (PoD). Jay was around four years old when we found out that he was on the autism spectrum. One of the things is that there are dedicated inclusion departments in mainstream schools here and we are glad that he is able to attend a mainstream school despite his challenges.

Blessed to follow my passion

Victoria Duncan manages to pull off a superb balancing act between being a mother of twins and running her own business

About Victoria: I am a fashionista through and through. With over a decade of extensive experience across multiple continents within the retail sector, I paved my way into the retail industry for leading global high-street brands. I relocated to the Middle East, where both Saudi Arabia and the UAE helped me further my career. I have headed several luxury brands, including Micheal Kors for the entire Middle East, which opened my eyes to the gap in the market for high-quality fashion at an affordable price.
This triggered the vision and co-founding of an online retail fashion store, CBEAUX, a company for women, by women, intending to make all women feel empowered on any occasion regardless of their shape, size or traditions.

Hobbies: In my spare time I love to bake, hike outdoors (while the weather's still good), and scrapbooking.

Becoming a mother: I have always been passionate about fashion and I am fortunate enough to do what I love. Since becoming a mother, I have a newfound passion to develop skills that I use with my kids and in business too. I have found that I am more patient, I look at everything less objectively and I rationalise the impact of every decision I make. More than anything I feel that I am filled with love and care.

Balancing work and life: I believe in making a schedule and sticking to it, although it comes with many challenges and I feel like I don't achieve enough. However, it's best not to dwell on the days past and see how you can improve the next day. You can always make time for something if it's really important to you. I think every mother feels there aren't enough hours in the day whether she is an entrepreneur or housewife, every role comes with its challenges and it's up to us to make the best of it.
Advice to aspiring mumpreneurs: I think the best advice is to learn to work around the busy parts of your day. If you own a business, there is no nine to five grind, so make use of the nights and late evenings to get your priorities set so you're not stressed during the day when you can spend time with the kids. Also, pursue your passion, you don't have to put it on hold just because you are a mum. Being a mum is a blessing, not an obstacle.

Born to be a mumpreneur

Aanya Aggarwal has had a flair for entrepreneurship since she was a teenager, and that has only grown since she became a mother

About Aanya: I'm a young and passionate entrepreneur and media influencer who loves to innovate or play around with recipes, spend time with my toddler, and a woman with dreams.
My foray into the world of media began at the age 14. I rose up the ranks to lead the production team of a local entertainment network working on the longest running lifestyle show on Sony Entertainment Television (Middle East). To support my work experience with education, I took on television and film production at SAE Dubai and a Master's in International Business. It was on this basis that I founded my own company.

I was recognised by Forbes Middle East as the region's youngest entrepreneur for my company Chocolate Entertainment, a full-service one-stop-shop for every media need and service. It manages Bollywood's leading talent and other premier events. It has become one of the most popular entertainment companies in the region.

I also created mrstummy when I saw a major gap in the motherhood community in the UAE. Not many had the right information on what and where to buy, good paediatricians for their child and the best way to learn all this is through the special events we conduct that are now on social media. It's great to learn from other mums and we are now a proud community of over 20,000 mothers.
Becoming a mother: I've become more disciplined, I wake up at 6 am every single day compared to rising at 10 am on the weekends before. Every day is the same and I've become so hands-on with housework and in the kitchen and I feel like I'm a ninja!

Balancing work and life: It's a challenge at times, there are days I forget time for myself and there are days I skip a meal. But it's all 100 per cent worth it. I love motherhood and I love being the mumpreneur I am today! I keep a straight forward goal and live a dream and by the end of the day, it's all worth it!

Advice to aspiring mumpreneurs: Stay focused and always remember you're not only working for yourself but also for your child to say 'She is my mom! And I am so proud of her'. That's when you feel that you're mission is accomplished!

Roller coaster of dreams

Hricha Saraf left a cushy banking job to fight and figure out the F&B industry by and for herself while attaining the perfect work-life balance

About Hricha: I am someone who believes in following her dreams with full enthusiasm and passion. My family always encouraged me to follow my dreams. I am blessed to be married to a loving man who supports my dreams and ambitions. I am an ex-banker and a mother of two loving children embarking on my entrepreneurial journey to follow my dreams and ambitions.
I had a stable job in the banking sector, however, I always wanted to do something of my own and show the world my food creation.

My passion drove me to the F&B industry in a country I now consider to be my first home.It was very challenging initially to start a new business without knowing the intricacies of the industry. However, my passion kept me going and growing and I founded my own vegetarian Indian snacks cloud kitchen Padosan.

We don't generally see many women entrepreneurs in many industries, and F&B is no different. Having a fair representation of women entrepreneurs will always be a blessing for any industry and the F&B is one where women can show their creativity. I can proudly say that I am doing my part in bringing creativity and good taste to the F&B industry.

Becoming a mother: Motherhood is like a constant roller coaster ride where one has to continue learning every day. It requires a lot of patience. Motherhood has taught me to remain calm and composed. I am a mother of two beautiful kids aged eleven and four and a smile on their face is everything to me.

Balancing work and life: A working mother is on either job 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That's how  I would describe myself.If you need a happy life then you should know the art of balancing. Here we need to play the role of every character, whether it is of a mother, a wife or an entrepreneur. For me, my team is also a part of my family. I decide at what time which role is more important or who needs me more. I prioritise my tasks accordingly. My children also know that there are some times when I cannot be with them and they absolutely support and understand their mother.

Advice to aspiring mumpreneurs: Follow your passion so as not to have any regrets in the future. Start your business ?if you are really passionate about it otherwise you will struggle in both areas and it will be difficult to maintain a good work-life balance.

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