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Shweta Foulger who has moved from running a blog on all things sustainable, to creating a business from it, Green OK Please talks about her life as an entrepreneur.
I’m Shweta Foulger – an environmental blogger, e-store co-owner and a mum of two. Green OK Please is still in its infancy so I’d like to thank Women’s Web for giving me the opportunity to reflect here.
After reading some of the stories of other entrepreneurs, I realized that I still have a lot to learn. Before I talk about my day, I’d like to tell you how Green OK Please came about.
I have always had a deep interest in environmental sustainability. My mum instilled it in me with her ‘waste not, want not’ philosophy. It led me to question my attitude towards the environment which in turn led me to complete a Masters degree in Environmental Management in Australia. Ironically, my first job was to work for a mining company, mainly focusing on their waste water management challenges.
Having lived in Australia for a decade, I began to miss my homeland. India was changing every day, and I felt the need to see it and be a part of it from up close. I moved back to Pune, my home town, with my Australian husband. 4 years and 2 kids later, I have experienced that particular warmth of family and friends that is so special to India.
I have also felt extremely disappointed in the general lack of environmental awareness amongst people of all classes. We just don’t seem to have the time to nurture our future. I tried to get involved in local municipal meetings, and while I met some inspiring people, I found it hard to make a difference. The Green OK Please blog was born as my solution.
Green OK Please at an exhibition
I started off with articles on environmental challenges primarily experienced in Pune. The blog soon made me a facilitator. People began to contact me and ask for solutions on various topics – from home composting to rainwater harvesting. Amongst friends, I became the go-to person for any environmental concerns.
Then, my childhood friend (and now business partner), Rashi Goel, sowed the seed of making Green OK Please an online platform that would promote better and healthier options for people living here. That idea stayed with me. I became a mum soon after and I realized that it’s really hard to be environmentally conscious when you have a baby.
You are thrust into this world of plastic and disposables and you generate unbelievable amounts of waste. I began to look harder for solutions that were lighter on our planet and healthier for us as a family. All of this research ultimately led to the birth of Green OK Please as an organisation that promotes sustainable living through a blog and also retails India made products that we believe have a lower environmental impact.
We spent months in planning the model we would like to work on – our focus being on raising environmental awareness and retailing products made by marginal and small producers to corporate clients during the gifting season.
I became pregnant again so we knew we had to move fast and do as much as possible before the second baby came. We launched our website on the 15th of December, 2013. My second baby was born a week after the launch!
Keeping that in mind, this is how a typical day is supposed to go in my head.
6am – 7am – This is my most creative time. On days that I can manage it, I work on the blog for this hour, either writing or planning topics. We have now connected with some more writers, so I’m either writing or planning topics at this time.
7am – 8:30 am – Breakfast and family time until my 3 year old leaves for school and husband for work.
8:30am – 10am – Planning meals, play time with my now 8 month old.
10 am – 12 noon – By this time my infant is usually asleep so I spend this chunk of time on doing Green OK Please operational work. I have a chat with Rashi on our job list for the day. Depending on the day of the week, I either work on updating our blog or otherwise on website and social media updates. Accounts are periodically managed during this time too.
12 noon – 2:30 pm – Lunch and play time. Then the kids go down for a nap.
2:30 – 3:30 pm – In this hour, I aim to complete my operational tasks for the day and communicate with Rashi on the progress made.
4pm – 8:30 pm – Play time, dinner and putting the children to bed.
8:30 – 10pm – This is my feedback time. I usually reply to comments by readers on the blog or emails from customers.
For the business, the big challenge is to determine the pace of our growth. Bringing in external investors would push us to grow quicker; however, as a mum of two, it would bring about a major change in our lifestyle and I’m not sure if we are ready for that.
Operationally, our challenges have been around finding a win-win model with some of the smaller suppliers in the rural sector. It has needed constant tweaking and I have realized that it is something that will continuously be a work in progress.
Arrangements in the organic world are not cut throat – they do need a greater level of care and understanding. As long as we can set the expectations through efficient communication to our customers, we should be able to meet such challenges.
At a personal level, the challenge is to keep that balance between being a business woman and a mum. I feel that I can meet this challenge by being better planned and better prepared so on days that I am unable to get my tasks (work or personal) completed, and I don’t feel guilty about it.
My ultimate goal has always been to raise awareness about the environment through the blog and to support sustainable businesses through our e-store because an increased demand for their products will ensure an increase in supply, leading more farmers, suppliers and businesses to convert to an organic lifestyle.
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