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Shalini Vij is the Founder of Hang Out, a chain of Family Entertainment centers in Delhi and Gurgaon. What drives her to follow her passion, despite health challenges? Find out!
Day In The Life Of An Entrepreneur is an ongoing series at Women’s Web where we invite women entrepreneurs at work in India, to share their stories, and tell us what their life and work is all about.
Coming from a business family, I have always been business inclined and wanted to pursue a career in either law or management. After my Bachelors in Business Administration and Personnel Management in the US from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois and New York, I gained experience in Management and Human Resources with many US companies especially in the retail and entertainment sector like Caldor, Discovery Zone and Rainbow Shops and then ran my own business of personalised and bridal gifts, besides working for my parental M.F. Group of Industries.
While my career was progressing wonderfully in the U.S., my health was one of the determining factors for me to return to India. I suffer from rheumatoid and lupus and chose to move back to India and am on treatment for the same. For some of you unaware of these ailments, they are both treatable and can be kept in remission with medications but are not curable diseases. They are not contagious but do limit my activities during flare-ups; because of my health, I chose to be closer to my family and rely on the doctors and treatment here in India.
On moving back from the U.S., being a mother of two boys (they were 7 years and 1 year old then, now 18 and 10), we were always searching for clean, well-maintained playgrounds, after-school activities and venues for the children to play and have fun. Given summer heat, the over grown grass at public parks and monsoon rains, there was a constant dearth of places were we could spend quality time with our kids to play and have fun as a family together. I have always been big on family interaction, bonding and spending quality time with my boys. This led to my understanding the importance of Child Development and learning through Playtime, which also motivated me to start Hang Out.
I saw a market and need for international standards of Child entertainment and family hangouts. With the grace of God, my experience & qualifications, I set out to bring in a perfect family hangout as a gift for my kids and for all young parents with little ones.
I travelled extensively for the first 2 years to educate myself and did a lot of research. I kept my kids involved in my work by making them go over my catalogues, videos of games, and they even travelled with me. My kids were super excited – to them, it was their mom opening one Big Playroom for them!
From waking up at 6am, to sending them to school, from being there when they get home, to monitoring their mealtimes, from homework to preparing them for Unit tests, from encouraging them for extra curricular activities to being part of there sports regime, from meal times to bed time, it’s a round the clock responsibility of being a Mom! I take pride in being a Super Mom, by finding pleasure and fun in doing my tasks. The key is to enjoy these moments rather than take them as chores.
Of course, the juggle is not always easy! For example, we got late last night from a family dinner with our kids as it was my parents’ anniversary m 10 year old fell asleep in the car on our way back. I knew I was unable to attend to his Maths assignment, so in the morning, I was helping him with homework at 6:15 am before sending him to school. I often find myself rushing back from work in the evenings to enable me to attend to the younger one’s dinnertime and his school assignments.
I will be honest – I used to work till late and be up at 6a.m. to send my little one to school. I worked after their bed times, because I didn’t want to take away from their time with their Mommy. My team members often comment on the times they receive my e-mails and know I handle all my mail & correspondence work at night, after their bed time. My family and friends know I have a set schedule and are understanding of my time restraints. Its all about time management and multi-tasking, I believe. I also believe in spending quality time not quantity time.
I have one small piece of Advice for mom entrepreneurs: “Never feel guilty for not giving your children enough time.” I don’t feel guilty. In fact, I think they inspired me and they are the reason I am in the Family Entertainment business. My children respect me and look up to me for my strength to juggle and they in turn will grow into responsible, sensitive and independent adults.
Being amongst the first few women in the entertainment industry, trying to make a place in the male dominated industry was a challenge. The risks of bringing in a new concept, a different model and convincing others to believe in my passion project was more demanding than I anticipated but again with the grace of God and support from my well wishers, Hang Out has changed the face of Kids entertainment.
As the name states it is a Family Hang Out in the true sense of the word, it’s not just not just another gaming zone or toddler area – it is a comprehensive center for family fun as a whole, catering to all age groups and including parents and grandparents too. We plan to reach out globally to make Hang Out locally accessible.
Hang Out won the Best Family Entertainment Center Award (FEC- northern region) by The Indian Association of Amusement Parks & Industries in 2013 and 2015.
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