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Female Entrepreneur: Mariam Noronha – Dollops of Sunshine

mariam-productsTell us about yourself and your background

mariam for blogI am a teacher, blogger, freelance writer, artist, designer and an avid crafter. In a word I’m a “maverick”!  As far as academic qualifications go I have a Masters Degree in Commerce and I am currently working towards completion of my Doctoral thesis. I have also taught commerce and management to under graduate students for twelve years now.

I have worked as a freelance writer for over six years and that stint includes various genres of writing such as fiction, travel and web content development. I began blogging professionally over three years ago. I own and manage a blog about unique and custom made businesses. It’s called TheOneOfAKindPreneur.  Besides that I write for a number of business blogs based out of Asia, Europe and Canada.  I have also written extensively on the Indian social media scenario for Social Samosa, an Indian social media hub.

I love creative pursuits and I dabble in calligraphy, watercolors, one stroke painting, doodling and crochet.  I love colours and creating handmade products gives me a lot of satisfaction. Designing hand-painted home décor and kids’ apparel and products is something I have begun enjoying since September 2012.

Being fiercely independent and creative by nature, the need to work for myself has always been there.

Tell us about your company

Dollops of Sunshine started out as a Facebook page where I used to share (not sell) pictures of my hand painted trays, cards, lamps, table mats and the like. I have always enjoyed crochet and in 2012 I came up with the idea to create some fun crochet designs for babies.  I discussed this with my friend Abida Khan (an avid crafter herself) who really liked the idea.

We started off with a discussion on how to do crochet designs for babies over a cup of tea and this led to the creation of a small collection of hats and booties for babies. Our first batch of designs sold out in just three days and soon we had people asking us to do more.

Product Range

Our range of products includes hats, booties, sweaters, baby blankets, bottle and mug warmers, hair bands and hair clips all of which are in crochet. We have also introduced organic cotton rompers embellished with crochet appliqués and are introducing a range of quilts for babies and toddlers in fabric.  Besides this we have added birth announcement plaques and cards all of which are based on original illustrations.

Target Market

Presently we cater to babies up to 12 months.  But we also do hats and scarves for toddlers. Ideally we would like to cater to the 0-8 age group but as kids obviously don’t buy our creations themselves we really are targeting mothers who are looking for bespoke designs to dress up their kids.

Honestly, I don’t think I have to “balance” anything.  Whatever I do, I do it because I love doing it.

What drove you to become an Entrepreneur?

We started off in September 2012.  Being fiercely independent and creative by nature, the need to work for myself has always been there. My foray into striking out on my own was freelance writing, followed by consultancy and blogging and now designing and illustrating for kids.  My love for crochet and finding a like-minded partner and crafter in Abida Khan drove me to set up Dollops.

What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?

Dealing with demanding retailers who do not realise that handcrafted products cannot be treated like machine made ones. Fending off their demands for high retail margins has been a challenge.  To overcome this however we are coming up with our own web store.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

We have had two online boutiques last year and are happy to say that on both occasions we sold out in less than three hours from opening time.

Believe in yourself and your abilities, listen to your inner voice and shut out the noise (doubts and fears), take the road less travelled.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My mother.

How do you balance your work life and home life?

Honestly, I don’t think I have to “balance” anything.  Whatever I do, I do it because I love doing it.  I am by nature very focused about whatever I set out to do. I am always clear about what I want to do, how I want to do it and more importantly I regard time as a resource. Once you realise how well you can use time, the question of balancing doesn’t arise; everything falls into place effortlessly. I always write down my goals and I find that working around a written plan makes things easier.

What advice do you have for women starting out on their own?

Be clear about what you want to do. You cannot build something if you have a blurred vision.

Believe in yourself and your abilities, listen to your inner voice and shut out the noise (doubts and fears), take the road less travelled.

Recognise the fact that you cannot do everything yourself. When selecting a partner or team member, look for people who complement you and are better than you at what you cannot do.

Learn to give people space to think and contribute.

Use the power of the internet to grow your business.

What does the future hold for you?

Infinite possibilities!

About Mariam Noronha

Mariam Noronha is a teacher with over twelve years of teaching experience. She has taught a wide range of management related subjects and has authored and presented papers at national and international seminars and conferences. An avid reader, researcher and writer, she has authored numerous articles in the copy writing, fiction, web writing and travel writing genre and four e-books on various genres of writing. Mariam currently writes her own business blog, TheOneOfAKindPreneur and provides consultancy to aspiring entrepreneurs with regards to business planning, branding, product development and promotion.

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