Interview with Navdeep, Founder of Erda Ally
Tell us a bit about yourself and your career background?
Prior to moving to Singapore, I worked as a Chartered Accountant for over 15 years, for companies ranging from recruitment and data analytics to the FMCG sector, where I worked on well-known household names such as Mr Kipling and our favourite little engine Thomas!
Tell us about your business?
Our vision is to create products that lead to less consumer wastage. We want to make it easy for everyone to lead a greener life by making eco-conscious products affordable. Our first product was the reusable colouring mats under our own label “Doodle Dat”. We originally launched them in the USA to test the market at the back end of 2019 with our Dino & Fairy Mats in A3 size selling out. We then decided bite the bullet and bring our designs to Singapore launching A5 size party packs.
The mat is designed to help provide parents with an alternative to screen time to entertain their children when dining or traveling, whilst teaching them the importance of reducing paper waste. Our mats are uniquely designed with intricate detail to aid concentration & motor skill practice. Since then we have extended our range to include Beeswax wraps/kits, silicone toys/tableware, and stainless steel bottles.
What inspired you to start your own business?
Erda Ally was born out of the desire to teach my own kids about sustainable living. Children learn from the environment around them, and are more likely to learn habits that they see at home. I saw that sustainable products were not that readily available in Singapore as they were in the UK, and those products that were available were expensive discouraging consumers to make the swap. Singapore has come a long way since then!
Tell us about your family?
My husband is a Chartered Surveyor from Malaysia. We met when we both worked in London. My children play a big role in the company. They are the design inspiration/approval team for the colouring mats and test the new products to make sure they are fit for purpose. They even make an appearance or two in our photo shoots when launching new products.
What do you find the most rewarding about being a Mumpreneur?
Having come from a professional career working long hours and commuting 2-3 hours daily, I appreciate the flexibility moving to Singapore has offered. Being my own boss means I’m able to navigate work and home commitments around the kids’ schedules, and these days their diaries are packed! The additional upside is I still utilise my number crunching skills for book keeping, tax filing, and sku analysis in my dual roles, as the company accountant and treasurer of the PTA committee for my kids’ school.
How do you balance motherhood and running your business?
Google Diary, wipe board and notes! Keeping clear boundaries between the two roles is not easy and not always possible as you cannot plan for illnesses. From the hours of 3-9pm I switch to my SAHM role, as its time for the school run, ushering kids to their ECA’s & Dinner Prep. As the saying goes, there’s never enough hours in the day.
What challenges did you face as a mumpreneur?
Unfortunately, Covid happened just after we decided to bring our mats to Singapore. As a result our stock was stuck with our manufacturers for nearly 1 year by which time a lot of competition had already hit the market. Plus like most companies the higher freight cost had a big impact when we were looking to launch. Overcoming doubts was tough.
What advice would you give to other aspiring mothers interested in starting their own businesses?
There’s no denying it’s going to be tough. There will be times when you think about giving up. Remember what inspired you in the first place. Believe in your product/yourself and learn from your mistakes.