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A Young Mother Speaks: To Quit Your Job To Startup

Harini has a startup called Soapworks. She had to quit her corporate career early on in life because her son, Bhargav, was born with special needs. She was only 23. In retrospect it was probably a blessing in disguise because Soapworks is doing the rounds and getting lots of attention.

Harini and Bhargav
Harini at Soapworks

Question: If I’m not mistaken, you were a working professional, a master’s holder with a good career ahead of her.

Are you glad that life has let you start your own business rather than be a corporate professional?

And she said:

I am Harini Sivakumar and I hail from the southern city of Chennai. After getting my MBA in retail management, I was so keen to take up a corporate career like any normal person would be, right? I managed to piece together a rather cushy life as a banker with an international bank based in Chennai.

Life changed after the birth of my son. He was born with Down syndrome. The requirements of a child with exceptional needs are such that I had to be a stay at home parent, I had no choice, I had to. Before fully accepting the circumstances, I did go through that phase of life where my emotions ricocheted from denial, anger to frustration. And there is no doubt that it was very tough. I was just 23 when my son was born. I tried hard to get back to my corporate career and even took up some temporary jobs but nothing worked because our country is nowhere near disability-friendly.

I was shocked to know that even many doctors did not understand what Down syndrome meant. It was hard to leave behind a child with a bunch of people who did not know how to care for him. That was the toughest phase of my life. My mind was in a state of perpetual chaos. It was the ultimate conundrum for the modern educated woman: Do I choose my career or my child?

I chose the latter, I quit my cushy MNC banker’s job.

But I never regretted it nor did I take that as an excuse to stay idle. I was working hard to equip myself for my son’s needs since there was hardly any service available for a parent like me. I enrolled for a masters in special education. I always felt that having my son was just the same as, well, having any other son. The only difference was, in a world where every parent is running and trying hard to push their child to be the number 1, I was a relaxed mother who took the scenic route and was going very slow. In the end, we all want to be recognized as successful parents, but I like to think that I took the longer and more beautiful route.

Even now, I make time for myself so that I feel good about this life I have been blessed to receive. I am a fitness enthusiast and an avid cyclist. I take part in all the brevets (a long-distance cycling event) happening in Delhi NCR and lead a happy, healthy life. I don’t have reasons to crib (smiley face).

I don’t feel bad anymore about my corporate career where I would be just working 9 to 9 with no time for myself or my family. Everything happens for a reason and all that happens, happens for the good. I believe that I have the best possible life today and so glad for all that happened in my life.

Tags assigned to this article:
Soapworks Harini Sivakumar women entrepreneurs

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