The Mamalode Starter Series is an exciting opportunity for us to introduce you to some of the amazing people we get to meet. Starting something takes enormous amounts of work, faith, help and community. Every week we'll share another story of starting. So, community of Mamalode, read up, get inspired and check out these wonder-folk.
Tell us a bit about your business and how you started it.
I own DOSA Restaurants in San Francisco and we serve authentic South Indian cuisine using local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients and present it with modern sensibility. I am married to an Indian from Mumbai who I met in San Francisco on a dance floor when I was 24 and we now have 120 employees and two companies, including two full service restaurants and a catering business. Together we strive to accomplish marriage, business, parenting and friendship.
A few advertising positions in my career years after college left me feeling unmotivated to work for other people, one a failed dot.com company and the other, one of the largest and most successful Internet companies to date. Motherhood was peeking around the corner at me and I began to realize that I wanted, and needed, to build a business first. In fact, it’s much more accurate to say I was burning to build something that would be there for me and would be under my control before I embarked into motherhood. While I had read so much about and witnessed first hand the magnitude of becoming a mother with people close to me like my older sister, my Jewish lineage was replete with entrepreneurs and I didn’t want to break the chain just because I am female and because I was going to become a mom. I had a scary feeling I might be swept out to sea by motherhood, perhaps never to return to this special fiery place.
Even though no one else said it, I really felt that motherhood marked my beginning as a career woman.
What do your kids think about your job?
We have two girls, Milaan and Eila, ages 3 and 9. My 9 year old, Eila, who inspired our success in the early years , was 1 when I opened the first restaurant in 2005. To date, she asks me the same important question, “Are you going to stay home before I sleep?” My 3 year old hasn’t caught onto the impact of restaurant life yet but she loves to eat spicy food and has cravings for things like wasabi, blue cheese and tequila. I think she landed in the right family business.
Tell us about a total mom + biz fail?
I have failed so many times as a mom on account of my business and from being overwhelmed, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But the one that comes to mind as the most painful was last year when I took my 9 year old daughter to school one evening to watch the talent show and realized that all of her third grade classmates were the stars of the show, having the time of their lives on the stage before her. I watched her sitting alone in an audience scattered with other stray kids, watching them with longing and perhaps envy as, at her expense, I had ignored every swirling invitation other mothers had offered via email, in PA meetings and probably on the soccer field, and not just that year, but for the past three years.
Share with us a total win (brag away!)
I feel a win worth bragging about every day that I have a fast-paced, fulfilling day at work where I add tons of value, solve problems and then come home to my rich life as a mother. I “have it all,” as they say, and I swell up inside recognizing it often.
I also have the luxury of a social career which lands me dressed up and on the floors of two glamorous restaurants engaging with a diverse audience of intelligent people who share my love for South Indian cuisine and artisanal cocktails-both of which DOSA is nationally acclaimed for. For this I am grateful and it makes up for the sweat, pain and un-sexy weeks we all endure as business owners.
What's your relationship with Mamalode?
Reading through Mamalode over so many years has served as a reminder to me that we, women and mothers, should talk more about how we really feel because it is so liberating, if nothing else, to know I am not alone and that, maybe just maybe, I am wonderful right now as I am. Mamalode engages me in topics that matter socially, environmentally, personally and professionally, and it always makes me laugh.