The interview was about to end. We were through most of the questions. And then there was this little something I was drawn to ask. So far, she was comfortable with most of my rather awkward questions so I figured this one shouldn’t be a problem either, “Has it been rewarding? The continuum of being a mother?”
She has two children, one only two months old and she has been back to work since the four weeks already. Khushboo Solanki Sharma is more than your average work-life balance mother.
“Oh! Yes! Immensely rewarding!” was her immediate answer. As if she was expecting me to have asked it. Getting deeper into the conversation, I ask what it has been like.
“I am thankful to god that I have never faced the kind of problems that my other friends faced during delivering their baby. But I have never let it come in the way of work. Of course motherhood has been an important part of my life, it has made me and shaped me in ways that I couldn’t imagine but it has always been a part of the larger narrative of life”
So who was I interviewing today? Khushboo Solanki Sharma is the founder of Zero Gravity Communications and co-founder of Joules – a fresh-to-order juice and shakes brand. Being the owner of two diverse brand she often has a lot of trouble managing both – but has done so successfully.
I take my flip flops off on the cold floor of her office and fold my legs back up onto the sofa. Two hands clasping the center of where my folded legs meet, the body rocking in sync with the neck in affirmative when someone tells me something I really connect to, that’s my listening pose. That’s when I say nothing, that’s when I turn into a sponge, the only goal being absorption.
What until 5 minutes ago looked like the end of a conversation had just lengthened itself for a while. You couldn’t say for how long in such cases, you could only hope it’s long enough for bonding and short enough to remain exciting. “I was working till the last week even in the case of my first child. The same was the case with my second child. I have gone to client meetings when I was 7 and 8 months pregnant, all the way to Mumbai and Bangalore. My clients would be surprised I was doing that.”
Khushboo runs a design agency and her husband is an entrepreneur trying to build a platform for food discovery. They parallely also own a juice brand with over 5 outlets in Ahmedabad and 1 in Baroda. On contrary to the enterprising kind that they sound, Khushboo tells me how most of her life choices happened by chance.
“Everything comes to me. I never really set goals when I was back in college. There was nothing that came to me as a life plan and when you’re a girl in a Gujarati family, it’s becomes more difficult to set life goals that are independent of your so-called social commitments.”
She joined L&T Infotech soon after her graduation and then worked there for a some years before moving to Ahmedabad with her husband to set up Joules Juices, an outlet for juice lovers. All this while, Khushboo and her husband had both been an independent couple. Never the sort that fell back on their parents for support regarding any risk that they had decided to take for themselves. Which meant that at any given point in time, at least one of them would have to be the breadwinner of the family while the other struggles. This is when Khushboo rose to the occasion and took control of the ship.
“It has never been easy. I have met a lot of people in life who, when presented with a challenge, find ways to escape it, try explaining why it isn’t possible to wane out of the difficulty of having to make an effort.”
“While I was having my first baby, a lot of people came up to me telling me to take it easy, but my slowing down would mean everything would slow down and we weren’t at a stage where we could afford that. So I figured it out.”
“How?” was my immediate question.
“Well, there’s no protocol, you just do. You have 24 hours of your time to make it happen. Everyone has just as much. So you have to stack in more things into it. Reply to emails while talking to people, learning to control your team remotely, learning to trust people with things you don’t even trust yourself with. It all falls in place once you push hard enough”
And she does make sense. Once you throw every other possibility of chickening out, right out the window, you’re left with nothing but to evolve and figure out how you’ll make it through. When impossible is no longer a possibility, the best solution is your only possible outcome.
And I believe this applies to every other aspect of life and entrepreneurship in general. Innovation in itself is a business of the new, and the more connected a society, the higher is its inertia to change. To absolute change, not the change of ordering from Foodpanda to ordering from Zomato, but the change of texting friends about what they’re up to, to simply checking their Facebook profiles. That sort of change takes time and in this time, the universe will present you with all the reasons to stop because this change intimidates you as well. You’re plagued by the same fears as everyone else and true victory lies in addressing these fears, living with them, and having faith in the fact that if you truly believe tomorrow will be brighter, it will be.
You can check out what Khushboo’s company is up to right here. I hope we gave you your dose of inspiration for today.