It’s been a while since I’ve done one of the Q&A’s, but once I started chatting with Rupal about the launch of her new company Andable, in the same month she’s due to give birth to her first child, I knew she would be a perfect fit for LWM. And the best part…we’re related…sort of. You see my grandmother had a first cousin who had some kids who then had some more kids and Rupal married one of those kids, my cousin Josh, whom I have a bunch of memories with running around as kids. You follow….right?
In just this short amount of time I’ve gotten to know Rupal, I’m amazed at all she’s done. She and Josh moved to Australia several years ago, and this past year as she was busily working to bring Andable to life, she got pregnant and is due to give birth any day now. Seriously, any day. Like she might be in labor right now with Lil Lemon (the baby’s nickname as they haven’t found out if they are having a boy or girl yet) as you are reading this. In this last month of her pregnancy, she and Andable’s co-founder, Mel Dean, launched their new business, which is all about giving back to others, which she explains more about below. And all of this, she’s doing with family in the US.
Do I have you intrigued yet? So go ahead, read below about her journey to business owner and mommyhood, and make sure to check out Andable before the day is over and see how you can contribute and become inspired by all she does!
What is Andable and how does it work?
Andable is an online marketplace connecting buyers with independent sellers for products a little left of mass merchandise. What’s different about us is our social mission: every time you buy, 10% goes to help fund a micro loan to an individual in need. We partner with Kiva to facilitate this loan. Because it’s a loan, it gets repaid, and we repay our sellers after three months, guaranteed . It’s a cycle of supporting small business both here and abroad without anyone making a sacrifice. We’re located in Sydney, but are a global platform, so anyone anywhere can set up a shop or buy on Andable.com.
How important are other mommas to the success of Andable? As I meander through the site, I see lots of item I want to purchase for my Abby and for me.
Mommas a quite important to Andable, and not just from a consumer side. We’ve been seeing so many momma’s becoming ‘slashies’ (mom slash jewellery designer) and Andable provides a perfect outlet for them to sell their creations both cost effectively and socially beneficially.
So many mommas have grand ideas of their own but are afraid they don’t have time to do it all. Can you briefly explain how Andable came to be and how long it took you to get all the things working before you launch? It’s like you have birthed one baby with Andable, and you are getting ready to birth Lemon, all in the same month.
I was lucky enough to have the flexibility to go after Andable with 110% of my time and effort for well over a year. Andable was a twinkle in my eye starting about April 2011 and finally launched fully in July 2012. I was working in advertising for most of my career and wanted to contribute to something more positive, instead of complaining about the ills in the world but feeling like I was professionally contributing to them. I was inspired by my grandpa, who grew up dirt poor in India, literally without shoes on his feet. But he always, even in that situation, contributed 10% of everything he earned to charity. That story was a deep part of my upbringing, and where the 10% of the originated.
Did you plan and have in mind to launch Andable right as you are about to give birth? And can you share with us your thoughts about how much you have on your plate right now.
In short, no. Becoming pregnant was scary. I wasn’t sure how our investors and (now) co-founder would take the news, and even if I had the ethical responsibility to tell them. I felt guilty and felt like everyone would think I was putting the business second. I was impressed and grateful for how much of a non-issue my pregnancy has been. It’s been so helpful that Andable’s co-founder, Mel Dean, has been incredibly supportive.
Being pregnant and launching this business has helped me keep both things in perspective and in balance. I’m not too stressed about either! (which is either incredibly healthy or incredibly naïve) I have a lot on my plate, but I have an incredibly supportive, feminist, and loving partner in crime / husband. We have taken on a lot over the last few years, and it has been quite busy (I run our household like a drill sergeant). Over the last 2 to 3 years, my husband has a now incredibly successful business he started, we have became Australian citizens (which means tax season comes TWICE!), we’re home owners, we’re having a baby, I’ve launched a business, and we still manage to get down to the beach, have picnics, get ice cream, and go for bike rides at least 3-4 times per week. Our busyness has made our lives incredibly rich.
When Lemon is grown up, what do you want him/her to remember about you being his/her working momma, and any other additional kids you may have?
I want Lil Lemon (LL) to remember how important the power of positive thinking and proactivity can be in making your life incredible. I also want to be a role model in being quite ambitious but always laughing and never taking things like parking tickets, dress codes, and mean people too seriously.
Do you work from home? If so, what are your plans for all the work you do and taking care of new baby?
I work from my office and from home. When LL arrives (hopefully TODAY!!), we (Josh and I) are playing it by ear. We both have the flexibility of being able to work from wherever we want, but also both really prefer to work from our offices.We have hired an au pair, which is going to be tremendously helpful. It was an inexpensive way to adopt a new family member (as our families are in the US and we live in Sydney) and have constant help for taking care of LL and the house . It should be interesting having someone live with us!
As the creator and part owner of Andable, how do you see yourself as a working mom? Do you see yourself as the more untraditional working mom getting work done when you can or do you plan in the future for more structure and utilize childcare?
I’m a structured person (which helps organize things like launching businesses and having babies) and also like to be around my team at work, so I will be trying to work during business hours. But, as I said, I need to have the flexibility of playing it all by ear.
I live across the country from my family and don’t have help readily available with taking care of Abby. You live on the other side of the world. What is your support system you have in place to help you manage all things work and momming once Lemon arrives?
That will the hardest part. We are close to our families and it will be so hard being away. Sydney has a transient populace, so we constantly have friends move away and new ones move here and difficult to form tight bonds. That’s why we hired an au pair. We want to think of her as LL’s aunt.
What is one piece of advice you have for expecting working mommas?
I don’t have an advice, but I have a comment: I wouldn’t have been able to be this positive and careered focus during my pregnancy unless I had a huge shake up in my career, moving from a comfortable and well-paying gig that did not fit my personality to a risky but amazing venture. Moving from advertising into Andable has made me use my brain more which has given me more self-confidence professionally, personally, and socially. I don’t phrase this as advice because while I do think I ‘made it happen’, I think I was incredibly fortunate to be in the right circumstances to be able to take this risk / leap of faith.
How does Josh support you? I know that for me I feel like I have to do it all…bring home the bacon and cook it, but I know I can’t do it all the time, or else my brain would explode.
I say this with complete objectivity: I married the most amazing man in the world. We share household duties 50/50 and we are both very supportive of the energy that the other has to put into the his / her business. We both have the same values: family, staying healthy, ambition, self-improvement, outlook on money, etc. We are a couple that is truly gender balanced (which never ceases to amaze my parents, who had an arranged marriage in India). I don’t feel like I have to do it all. I do as much as I can, and so far it’s been enough. That may be a whole different story when LL arrives!
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I think conversations about identity change when becoming a mother need to be more in the forefront. I didn’t expect this and my identity has changed quite a lot. This should be something that women confront before they get pregnant, as I think it has a lot to do with how you embrace yourself, your non-baby ambition, your relationship with your partner, and others.