” I enjoy the flexibility of being a mompreneur “
Scaryammi talks to Maheen Qaiser, one part owner of Beri and Coral, a high-end, exquisite brand of kids clothes which has already created waves due to their stunning designs, use of high quality fabric and attention to details.
Q1: What inspired you to start your business?
Ans1: Before I tried my hand at becoming an entrepreneur or mom-preneur if you will, I was a professional with a 9 till 5 desk job. The job didn’t allow me flexibility in terms of timings or space to be creative. Most of the work was routine and after a few years at the job, I had pretty much reached the stage where inertia starts to creep in. In a nutshell, I was restless for a new challenge. This was when I decided to leave the corporate world and jump into the world of consulting (a business I also co-own with a friend) and now Beri & Coral, my latest venture.
Q2: Did you become an entrepreneur before or after becoming an ammi?
Ans2: I jumped into entrepreneurship after I became an ammi.
Q3: How do you balance work with raising kids?
Ans3: If I compare the time when I wasn’t working and was at home exclusively to now where I’m managing a whole business and not around all day: I feel I value my time with my daughter more. So for instance I’ll go the extra mile to do an activity with her which I would have delayed if I was around her all the time. But of course the balance is delicate and a supporting family and environment does help also.
Q4: How many kids do you have?
Ans 4: Just one, a 3 year old daughter
Q5: Do you have a role like not working after a certain time?
Ans 5:I try getting the work done during the day so that after she’s done with her playing etc I’m there when she needs me. Also evenings are family time when my husband is also back from work and I try staying away from the phone (succeed most days).
Q6: What’s the best part about being your own boss?
Ans 6: The freedom to take decisions without approvals, seeing your business grow and work appreciated and of course flexibility of time.
Q7: What’s the worst part about being your own boss?
Ans 7: That you have to manage every aspect of the business yourself. Especially for a startup such as mine, you don’t have the luxury to hire a big team so you have to do the extra hard work and be super reasonable.
Q8: Describe the most fun project you have done?
Ans8: I think designing our maiden line for Beri & Coral was most exciting because we had our own kids as our muse. From conception to figuring out the mood of our line to deciding our packaging, everything is a labour of love and I am very excited for the future of the brand.
Q9: Do you take the kids to work with you?
Ans9: Yes I do. It can be a challenge sometimes to get the focus but as women we multitask quite well.
Q10: Do your kids complain about you not being home enough?
Ans 10: She is too young to complain but I pick up on her moods so a hug and a kiss makes up for the MIA mama.
Q11: Both your businesses are in partnerships: is it tricky working in a partnership?
I think the most important thing which I have observed in businesses is that setting a system is paramount. Partnerships are great when you have responsibilities and roles clearly assigned. You cannot have two partners doing the same thing, that is where the contention comes in. I was also lucky that both my partners are extremely professional and trustworthy and I hope they think the same about me also. We have a great working relationship and our individual strengths complement each other perfectly. One cannot be jack of all trades. It’s good to have another mind to pick, also saves you burnout.
Q12: Do you feel there are too many clothing brands? What are the unique selling points of Beri and Coral?
Ans 12: Yes there are many people selling clothes but not many brands. A brand requires time and consistency to build. It has to reflect in every aspect of business management. What’s unique about Beri & Coral is that it’s bespoke tailored kids wear. We are offering customised clothing by using local craftsmanship and colour palette and our future lines will reflect this in unique ways. We want to put kids fashion in the forefront, incorporating trend and comfort and quality. Each line will have a different theme and mood and yet similar in essence. We are not an assembly line production, each outfit takes time and effort to make.
Q13: How did you come up with the name Beri & Coral?
Ans 13: We wanted a name which was gender neutral as we do both boy and girl clothing and since we want to add more lines to our brand, we also wanted a more general vibe (it’s not eastern wear or clothes only) so we went with colour. Beri is a shade of blue and coral is a shade of pink; I think it has a good ring to it.
Q14; How did you raise the investment required for Beri and Coral?
Ans 14: Investment follows a good idea, that’s what I was told by someone wise and we followed just that.
Q15: How ambitious are you with Beri & Coral? Do you want to open up stores?
Ans 15:We have a long term vision of where we want to take it but in the near future, a website is on the cards and down the road a cute little studio just for kids. We already deliver all over Pakistan but yes for our upcoming formal collection, we are planning to hold an exhibition in other cities as well as one in Lahore.
Maheen Qaiser, co founder of Beri and Coral