Traditionally, mothers have always had the responsibility of taking care of children, and mothers in India too have been expected to care for their children full-time. While this has been a common scene for years, with The Growing Giraffe, Rukmini Banerjee makes both entrepreneurship and motherhood work together in her own unique and innovative way. In our series Pandemic Pivot, we speak to a founder who is putting nutrition into children’s snackables.
Rukmini Banerjee worked as a lawyer in a firm until her child, Aarav, was born. After giving birth, the idea of going back to her full-time job after her maternity break did not appeal to her. Speaking to SheThePeople, she said that she wanted to support her child and be with him full-time especially during his early years.
“Immediately after my maternity leave, I conceived the idea of starting a venture – a cloud kitchen from home, where I would be serving healthy food for children,” Banerjee said.
Meet The Growing Giraffe
The Growing Giraffe is a sustainable brand by Rukmini Banerjee. Her brand promotes healthy, nutritious, and tasty treats for babies and children. The snacks, the brand claims, are wholesome and packed with immunity-building ingredients.
Her venture was born in the midst of the pandemic in December 2020. Due to its healthy product, there was a demand for their products even during the pandemic. However, the lockdowns have also held off Banerjee’s plan for offline sales. But her life phenomenally changed after starting her own business and becoming her own boss.
“The Growing Giraffe is my second child,” she told SheThePeople. The business has brought more joy to her life as she knows that she is initiating a healthy change. While she does not have to spend long hours in offices like she used to, she has no time to slack off or be complacent as she gives her all to ensure that her business grows well.
Being A Working Mom
Rukmini Banerjee’s journey with her business is not full of sunshine and rainbows. Being a woman who believes that it is best to not depend on anyone else but herself when stepping into a new venture, she had her fair share of battles.
Her brand also faced a lot of changes over the years. She initially registered her business on Zomato but could match up to the requirements. “I then had to go back to the drawing board – where I had to figure out a more sustainable idea,” Banerjee said.
After many experiments and tests, she came up with a more sustainable, travel-friendly, and healthier product. With her domestic helper, the product with a new look, feel and, taste was launched in 2020.
It surely is more difficult for working mothers to take care of their children and earn at the same time. Banerjee started off with her savings of Rs 2 lakhs to start her business. She then continued to work as a freelance lawyer from then on to support herself and her business.
“The person who had my back when I had a tiring day or when I worried about any part of my business was my husband,” the entrepreneur said. But again, when it comes to her work, she makes it clear that the battles are hers to fight.
The Future Of Women Entrepreneurship
Women have been thinking out of the box and entering into different new ventures. However, many women are still stuck where they are because of many limitations, including the inability to stand up on their own feet.
Indian society, especially, has confined women mostly to the domestic sphere. A married woman is assumed to take care of her child, her husband, and her in-laws. Families also bring their daughters up with certain teachings that condition them to think that women are entitled to only be daughters, wives, and mothers.
However, Banerjee shared that she does not believe men should be the only ones who are responsible to be bread earners. She said that the most common problem in India regarding women entrepreneurship is the way girls are raised.
When a woman works, the money she earns herself becomes more important to her because it is her source of support. Therefore, most working women would rather choose a full-time job that ensures a fixed monthly salary than venture into the realm of entrepreneurship.
“Very few women or men, in fact, want to forsake the money they earn, to put it behind a venture that is risky,” Banerjee said. She considers the solution to this is to bring up girls the right way.
“The solution is to bring up girls to not only follow their dreams but to chase dreams until they are realized. Most importantly, they should be brought up with the values of equality between men and women,” she shared.
The Changing Trend
Through her business, Rukmini Banerjee shared that she has seen a changing trend with parenthood. “I see a lot more dads these days taking a keen interest in their children’s health and what they eat,” she said.
Although mothers are still mostly the ones who reach out for childcare and other necessities, dads have also been taking the initiative a lot today. “I feel nowadays, both parents are sharing this responsibility beautifully,” said Banerjee.
The creative working mom advises parents to try and avoid food that contains refined sugar, refined flour, and trans fats. “My tip to people reading this is – please look at the ingredients printed on the product packaging before buying it,” Banerjee said.
It is clear that the story of The Growing Giraffe is definitely bigger than just serving good food for kids. The creator, along with her passion and hard work, embraces motherhood, women empowerment, and better health on her journey.