Anaita Sarkar is the founder, owner, creative director, chief party planner, company culture executor and social media maverick for the online retail business based in North Sydney, OLIVIA&Co. The business was set up to offer a unique monogramming service that exists to give women everywhere affordable accessories that they can make their own.
She’s also a mother, a self-proclaimed superwoman, commander of bedtimes and Guinness World Record holder for somehow getting everyone out of the door in one fell swoop when she’s already running late.
We chatted with Anaita about how she relishes the challenge of being able to be the best business person and mother she can, and how she manages the impossible task of both.
Why did you set up Olivia&Co?
I actually started OLIVIA&CO. because of how left out I felt as a child growing up with such a unique name! Being a child of the 80s, I never, ever found my name printed on personalised sticker sets that I could decorate my school books with. I always knew how special personalised accessories can make someone feel and since then, I’ve wanted to give other people the chance to experience that.
Aside from our ability to create truly personalised items, I am proud that we are known for being a completely inclusive brand – we have a huge range of all vegan products and we ship everything using 100% biodegradable and compostable shipping bags. Having an online store minimises our eco footprint.
What are your priorities each day?
Three years in since starting my business, I’ve learned a few cheeky tips along the way which I think all working mums wherever you are based, will find helpful…
Have a real-talk with yourself!
This tip was originally titled ‘have a real-talk with your partner’, but the truth is, mothers who run their own businesses fall into so many different categories of relationships, circumstances, and situations that focusing on one type of person seems like a cop-out.
No matter who you have or don’t have in your life, have a real-talk with yourself, check-in from time to time, organise your support systems (whether it’s your mother-in-law or your coping mechanisms) and give yourself the best chance to juggle all of this at one time.
Burnout is a real thing, and when you’re working two jobs (being a mother and running your own business) it’s easy to let things, like taking care of yourself, slip through the cracks.
Separate your workspace and your family space
It’s vital to give yourself the mental differentiation between what is work and what is family. When the two start to bleed into one another, it’s easy to lose concentration, become easily distracted, and let the stress from one area of your life affect the others.
When starting your own business, it’s unlikely you’ll be securing your flashy office space within the first month, and it’s more likely you’ll be setting up your social media while wiping sticky caramel off your new white jeans. Give yourself a fighting chance and sort out your workspace, even if it’s a desk that you can pack-up when you’re finished with it; section it off from your normal day to day for a professional approach to your business.
Create a routine for yourself (but make sure it’s adaptable)
Your routine is going to be a saviour on those days where life gets crazy and any sense of normalcy goes out the window. It’s easy to lose track of where you’re at with your work and what needs to be done next when your mind could be packing for school camp between phone calls with your accountant and providing stellar email customer service.
Understand that your child, your business and your life… is your choice
In 2019, there’s still whispers in parenting circles of what’s the ‘right’ way to do things. Maybe it’s a family member, someone from playgroup or even online comments, people will always be picking apart your life (whether you’re a working mother or not), so it’s important to reiterate the point that this is your choice, done your way and no one else’s.
How a balance of work and motherhood looks for one person, will look completely different from yours, and that’s okay. You’re running your own business, one that will be looked back on with admiration by your children – so it’s okay to be flexible with your attention and intentions at times.
If you’re currently balancing (or planning to balance!) running your own business with being a mum, I salute you! It’s not easy. But I can tell you that it’s so worth it. Working on my three babies (my two girls and my business) has honestly been some of the most rewarding years of my life where I’ve been able to bring in income for my family – and make school pick-up every single day!
Anaita Sarkar is an entrepreneur and owner and founder of OLIVIA&CO., an Australian-based personalised accessories online retailer, and HERO Packaging, a 100% Biodegradable and Eco-Friendly packaging shipping solution. With an extensive background in Marketing, and as a Guest Lecturer at Macquarie University, Anaita’s brand philosophy for her companies focuses on customer-centricity and personalising the brand experience at every touchpoint.
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Article composed with thanks to Olivia & Co.
Online Producer & Experiences Editor Ronnie is mum to two spirited kids who keep her on her toes. With a love for travel, film, tv, photography & (eating) food keeping her wishing for more time, & having a keen curiosity means she’ll give almost anything a go making her, and her family, up for the job!
Favourite place to be: On an adventure