Pressing Pause: Lessons Learned from a Decade of Entrepreneurship and Motherhood

Pressing Pause: Lessons Learned from a Decade of Entrepreneurship and Motherhood

Inside the Minds of US Presidents: A Journey Through their Journals Reading Pressing Pause: Lessons Learned from a Decade of Entrepreneurship and Motherhood 12 minutes

Life's taken a new turn. If you have been here for a while and have been following our brand journey since the beginning or found us recently but wondered why we don't send messages or share on social media or aren't generally as active as all the other brands and small businesses in our space, it is because I reached a point of total exhaustion that left me feeling utterly drained, depleted, and hollow as if every ounce of energy was drained from my soul.

I want to tell you my story if you have a moment (maybe 10 minutes). I have been mustering up the courage to put it into words because it meant facing truths I wasn't ready for.

Let me take you to the beginning (not of time, LOL, but my journey building this brand). In 2013, I got engaged and started planning my wedding; between the contributions from our families and all the money we had saved, the budget balloon. Given the time and hard work that went into saving this money, I felt it wasn't financially wise to spend it on essentially a party, but it's what you are supposed to do in life. Have a nice wedding. At least, that's what a lot of us are told.

My only requirement for the wedding was that it be in India because I have a huge family that would love to attend, and it would be difficult for them to come to the US. However, as I started planning this wedding, several people, from planners to decorators to family members, told me my budget wasn't enough, and it would be considered a low-end wedding, and that I would need to compromise on just about everything; my partner and I decided it wasn't worth it to have a wedding that not only cost a lot but also was turning into something that wasn't us. To us, it wasn't a small amount of money, and we had seen enough of the world to know that it's a privilege to be in a place where we can afford a wedding that costs that much. So, to be talked down to by vendors and planners left a bad taste. We eloped instead. We didn't even have rings, and we were wearing jeans. We used the money to buy real estate and invest the rest into this business. Soothi.

From 2015 - 2020, I was on the grind, building this brand. I was focused on the details. Making sure I did things the right way. My previous career was in strategy consulting, and my biggest takeaway was that too many leaders and companies try to take shortcuts to maximize profits, and the consequences of the shortcuts ultimately hurt the customers and the employees. It's not fair, and it's often the cause of the most significant issues in our culture, society, and environment. With this, I knew that I wanted to build a company that did not take shortcuts. It meant doing things with attention to the details and being okay with a slower pace of growth. It also meant leading with kindness and establishing long and respectful partnerships with my artisan partners and my customers.

As we all know, the pandemic changed our lives in 2020. As a small business owner, things really changed. There were new rules and guidelines constantly coming down. One minute, the economy felt like it was crashing. Buyers were canceling orders, inventory was getting stuck in the ocean, and the next minute, it was an unexpected outpour of support for small businesses coupled with a lack of competition from brands that drop ship from overseas and spending millions on marketing a month. This meant that Soothi was getting a lot of exposure and sales, which was delightful. However, this was also when it was nearly impossible to find people who wanted to work in a warehouse while following all the COVID guidelines for health and safety. I worked 10 hours a day packing orders and then coming home and managing all the other business things (accounting, finance, marketing, imports, exports, a one [wo]man shop). I was also pregnant for the first time during this period, and that brought on their own health challenges. I had a heightened fear of getting COVID while pregnant and the unknown surrounding it that I chose to work on the days that no one was scheduled at the warehouse.

I remember leaving my warehouse one night at 9 pm, exhausted from packing orders all day, being on my feet all while seven months pregnant, and seeing that a truck had parked right next to me, leaving almost no room to open and get into my car. I had to climb into my car from the other side, which, at this point in life, felt as if I was attempting an acrobatic stunt. I found myself driving home and just crying.

In 2021, came the birth of my son and the onset of postpartum depression because I wasn't prepared for how hard the transition to motherhood can be. I always assumed it would be automatic; isn't that how it's portrayed in all the stories I grew up with? But looking back, maybe those stories were all written and told by people who downplayed the messy reality and skipped a few necessary details. It was still high times of COVID, and the health and safety rules caused me so much anxiety and fear for this little being that I was suddenly fully responsible for. Couple that with the challenges that come with those early days of parenting, from the lack of sleep to the pain and demands of breastfeeding to constantly trying to fit in a shower, work, food, time with my dog, and everything else in the little window of time between naps. I remember removing all the news and global podcasts I would listen to because I couldn't handle the overwhelming state of the world on top of the overwhelming state of my life. I had close family members pass away during this time, and others were in no position to risk travel. I felt so alone.

I had carefully carved out four weeks away from the business as my makeshift maternity leave because there is no official leave when you are a solopreneur. Only for me to get inundated with calls and messages just 5 hours after giving birth by a corporate buyer who needed his order early, and I needed to make it happen. I was in my hospital bed calling the two amazing employees I had to help me get this done. After the adrenaline wore off, I burst into tears. What was I doing with my life?

Most of 2021 is a blur. I don't remember much of it. I see photos of myself and my baby, and the moments surrounding them feel hazy. The business was still growing and ever-demanding. The increase in cost and the constant challenges of shipping and inventory were exhausting to deal with while trying to nurse a baby and figure out how to be a parent. I put myself on autopilot so I could survive life in a pandemic as a new mom and a small business owner, just trying to get the business to the other side.

2022 came, and I wanted to do something else and shut it all down because I could not keep up with the constant new challenges. The cost of daycares and nanny services was outrageous. I had been reinvesting everything into the business for years, and the little salary I was taking suddenly felt insufficient. My husband assured me it was all okay, but I had never in my life not contributed equally to the finances of the home. I suddenly felt financially dependent on someone else. It made me feel so weak, and I was already weak because I hadn't recovered from the toll the pregnancy had taken on me. Add constant sleepless nights (because, you and this feeling that I wasn't doing enough, and I found myself feeling depressed. Everywhere I turned, it was another person or social media telling me to do this or that to be a better mother, and if I am not doing this or using that, then I am not doing a good job. If I am not making fresh meals every day, then I am failing; if I haven't "bounced back" physically, then I am a failure; if I am not sleep training, then I am a failure, and on and on and on. I felt I wasn't truly present in my every day. Instead, I was constantly worried and focused on the demands of the next task ahead. I was on autopilot trying to get everything done from the moment my eyes opened after three, maybe four, restless hours of sleep, and it was taking a toll. I hated how I looked and how I felt.

The one truth I had was that I did good work. Marketing and business were something I was good at, but now I found myself questioning and second-guessing everything, getting stuck chasing perfection, letting fear get in the way of finishing anything, and constantly finding myself sending apology emails because I was behind on every project, correspondence, and deadline. I never realized how valuable it was to get to do deep work and get into a flow state. Suddenly, the demands of motherhood left no time for deep work and time for focus felt like a luxury. I had no idea how to work in a messy, disorganized, and distracting environment.

An opportunity to step back from the business presented itself, and I took it, hoping to slow down and get a break. I handed my business off to agencies and automated most things. I delusionally convinced myself that it would be fine because I had already created a solid foundation for the company.

Early 2023, I went in for my physical; the results were alarm bells telling me I had to stop. I had been rowing a boat nonstop for a few years because of fear that if I stopped, I would drown, but in the process, I didn't notice the wounds that needed time to heal, and now they were bleeding and becoming another threat to my life. In February of 2023, I decided to stop everything.

I spent the rest of the year slowing down, focusing first on my health and my relationship with my son and family. I also spent time cleaning up the mess in the business, which was ultimately caused by my reckless decisions and delegating things without thinking them through. It was the year of healing and personal growth.

I have spent the last few months being intentional in all aspects of my life, from slow mornings with dedicated journaling time to establishing a hard stop around 4 pm from work. I have found joy in making healthy dinners (well, at least some days) and finally embracing my Indian heritage and the food and recipes that come with that. Having a child who only wants to eat Indian food also helps :). I have spent the year working with a holistic, integrative MD to figure out the causes of my health issues (spoiler alert, it was high levels of cortisol and out-of-balance gut health). I stopped posting on Social media and sending out marketing campaigns because it all felt inauthentic to how I was feeling. I slowed down a lot of the business and eliminated all the deadlines and goals because that was what was needed. It all felt like I was putting unnecessary pressure on myself because we live in a capitalistic society that subconsciously tells us that being busy and on the grind is the route to success. Nothing is worth the cost to my well-being and peace, no matter how pressing something feels.

There is much more to tell you, but I'll stop here now. I am sending this letter out today as a restart button. I am finally feeling healthy enough to start putting myself out there again. I have cleaned up enough of the mess to return to being more present and intentional with how I run this company. I have had time to reconnect with why I started this brand in the first place.

If you would like to join me on this journey of slowly, authentically, and intentionally building a brand that is attempting to do a lot of good with an emphasis on storytelling and connection, I would love to have you become part of the community.

If there is a platform you use (Slack, Facebook Group, Discord, etc.), please let us know so we can start a Soothi community channel where we can share ideas, stories, and journal together.

Take good care,

just for you

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Excellent article. Loved reading the journey and a great reminder that without our health, what is it all for? Thanks for the raw, open and honest reveal.. You’ll be saving many lives because of this.

Excellent article. Loved reading the journey and a great reminder that without our health, what is it all for? Thanks for the raw, open and honest reveal.. You’ll be saving many lives because of this.



“Loved reading this! So inspiring! The courage in sharing their personal struggles and triumphs is truly admirable. A must-read for anyone who’s ever felt overwhelmed – you’re not alone! Thanks for sharing your story and reminding us to prioritize self-care and mental health. Keep shining!”

“Loved reading this! So inspiring! The courage in sharing their personal struggles and triumphs is truly admirable. A must-read for anyone who’s ever felt overwhelmed – you’re not alone! Thanks for sharing your story and reminding us to prioritize self-care and mental health. Keep shining!”

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