MOMS IN BUSINESS: Get to know Priyanka Kedia
We’ve all been hearing a lot about women in business: We’re fortunate to live in a time where women have the choices and opportunities to grow equally in a personal and professional manner, in industry and in family. But in the age of Lean In, there exists a notion that, not only can women have it all, but that they should—enter a tremendous feeling of pressure for many to succeed at all costs. That’s why it’s so important to Priyanka Kedia, founder and designer behind Ayva Jewelry, to highlight the ups and downs of being not only a woman in business, but a business-owning mom. In our Mothers in Business series, we’ll highlight the successes as much as the failures, go behind-the-scenes to discover what it’s like to get a venture off the ground while simultaneously bringing up a family, and follow women along in their journeys to their own versions of success. And we’ll start with our very own Priyanka, mother to three: Two young children, and her budding business, Ayva Jewelry.
Priyanka Kedia : Mother of two, founder and designer behind AYVA Jewelry
First, tell us which came first: Babies or business?
Tell us a little about Ayva Jewelry. What made you decide to start it up?
PK: After I got married, my husband wanted me to join his business but I wanted to go out on my own and work elsewhere. Things really changed for me after my grandmother passed: I was very close to her, and when I inherited some of her jewelry, I realized the importance of jewelry. I had been around it all my life, but it wasn’t until that time that I realized its symbolic value. I still keep those pieces really close to me as I feel like a part of her is with me forever.
That’s why I started Ayva Jewelry: I want people to be able to tell their wonderful stories through their jewelry for generations to come. Each piece bares all of those memories and experiences of someone’s life.
The name Ayva comes from the monikers of my children’s names: Ayesha and Varun. Ayva is a brand of fine jewelry inspired by my Indian heritage, fused with modern European minimalism inspired by my travels. The philosophy of Ayva Jewelry is to celebrate all of life’s moments—not just major milestones.
Business aside, what’s the hardest part of being a mother to two?
PK: Trying to be a good parent and finding enough hours in a day to get everything done.
Children aside, what’s the hardest part of being a business owner?
PK: Trying to stay positive. It’s necessary to keep reminding yourself that the dots are meant to connect in the end, everything happens for a reason. Even when you feel as if you are being slammed down and it’s hard to stay positive, it’s even more necessary.
How do you juggle your responsibilities on a daily basis?
PK: I wake up early in the morning—before my kids. I take some time to meditate, and then think of my day ahead and plan what needs to be done. It’s surprising how much just a little alone time when you are a mother helps you clear your mind and think strategically.
Describe what a typical (business) day looks like for you.
PK: I wake up around 6:00 a.m. and spend a good 45 minutes meditating and planning my day. After the kids wake up it’s time for packing snacks and lunches and off to school and work for us. I usually work until 4:00 p.m., then it’s time to pick my kids up from school. I usually try not to schedule any meetings unless necessary in the evening so that we have some time to spend together. I log back on at night after we put the kids to bed, as I work with people overseas and that side of my business happens late at night.
What’s been your biggest success thus far in your journey to being a successful business owner?
PK: Seeing how proud my kids are of me. My daughter, who is 5, always wants to know what I’m doing. She wants me to show her the new pieces and then she’s always in awe and says, “mom, I can’t believe you designed this piece. Could you please teach me how to do this when I grow up?”
My son is equally involved. He always looks out and tells me, “Mom, you should check this out.” He understands a more of the business side since he’s a bit older, so I always show him a picture of a store that I visit or that’s carrying my line, so that he can see how beautiful it is and where his mom’s products are being sold. He loves to hear about it.
So, you talk to your children about owning a business, then?
PK: Yes, I always talk to my children about owning a business. Especially to my son, who is always curious and wants to find out about what’s going on. Last year he had a class project where they were asked to create a product, and then price their products and sell it to their classmates. I loved that the school did that because it made the kids understand how to conduct market research to see what product they need to produce, how to set up shop, how to market their product, and what the cost should be so that they could make a profit, and then the best part: taxes. Boy, were they confused when they had to “pay” taxes!
After this project, the conversation with my son became so much easier as he now understands the basics of business. I don’t force it on them, but whenever they ask, I make sure I answer their questions. I also love traveling with my kids whenever possible as they feel like they are a part of this business, and love to help. They even call themselves Team Ayva, which I absolutely adore.
What helps you unwind?
PK: A nice chilled glass of Prosecco or Chardonnay and some mindless comedy. If I am really frustrated, pulling weeds in the garden works wonders. I’ve been gardening for the last 5 years and find it extremely therapeutic.
What is your mantra (and if you don’t have one, now is the time to pick one!).
PK: Focus on the positives.
What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you before becoming a mom/starting your own company?
PK: Stop feeling guilty. Trying to juggle kids and a business is no easy feat. There are many sacrifices you have to make on both ends and you have to stop feeling bad about them. Always think about the big picture, and believe that it’s meant to happen. When you miss something with the kids, you just have to remember that they see you working hard and you will have instilled those values in them for when they grow up. Someday they will learn to appreciate all that you had to do when you were juggling both (well, that’s what I hope!).
What other moms in business do you admire?
PK: Indra Nooyi, Natalie Massenet, Jessica Alba.
Undoubtedly, you’ve faced your fair share of challenges along the way. What keeps you going?
PK: My biggest lesson so far has been that whenever someone says “No,” learn to think of it as a “Maybe.” Once you start thinking that way, it opens up so many possibilities and also gives you the courage and drive to keep pushing forward.