Have the end goal in mind and make sure you are working towards it - this is what inspired our young,smart and enthusiastic alumni Ms. Shiffali Wadhawan to become an entrepreneur and start her own toy concept store “Mama’s Little Donut”. Shebelieves that “Innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs and the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or a different service. Entrepreneurs need to search purposefully for the sources of innovation and the changes that indicate opportunities for successful innovation. And they need to know how to apply these principles”. She is a career oriented woman and is responsible for spearheading this creative idea.
Ms. Shiffali’s journey from being a student at the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) to an entrepreneur has been a learning experience altogether. For her, gaining knowledge has never stopped since then. She did her schooling from Allahabad and post that came to Delhi to start off with her course at IIPM. She finished off her course at IIPM in 1999. From her days at the institute, she remembers Prof. Arindam Chaudhuri’s lectures as she used to find them very interesting. She has sweet memories of her classes being held at the Lodhi road campus. Being an entrepreneur, Ms. Shiffali agrees to the fact that it is important to work as an employee before becoming an employer. It is really essential as it brings in a different kind of sensitivity in a person. She always wanted to do something of her own, something she was passionate about.
‘Creativity is the road to success’. Ms. Shiffali is not only creative in terms of her ideas but is also an artist, as she is into painting and sketching and this is what her key strength is. She always looks for creative ways to express herself. Her creative mind prompted her to leave her family business and start a venture of her own. She got the idea of doing something for kids and thus she decided to open up a concept toy store. Being a mother of a 6 year old daughter (Ehsaas) herself, Ms. Shiffali could realise what pain a mother in India goes through to get good quality toys for her kids. Since she always wanted to do something imaginative, her idea of opening a toy store gave birth to the concept of ‘Mama’s Little Donut’. The first flagship store opened on 21st November, 2008 by Shiffali and her partner in the welcoming environs of the green and serene Panchsheel area of Delhi. Mama’s is a fun toy store with a wide range of creative toys imported from US, UK, Germany and Thailand, including imaginative playthings and special occasion dresses.
She says, “Their main focus was to get thinking toys and they really wanted to promote imaginative play.” In India, we find very less of such toys. We find toys where you just press a button and it makes a certain sound, but here, there are no toys which encourage imaginative play, wherein the child can think. For example, a child is given a robe of a magician where he behaves like a magician, talks like a magician, wears a magician’s cap and becomes that character. Imaginative play encourages a child to be confident, articulate, sharpens their memory and overall enhances their social skills.
Today they also have ‘Mama’s Must Reads’- a section at Mama’s where they handpick each title recommended for kids till the age of upto 8 years. Their main aim is to make sure that their inventory is amazing and they keep bringing in new brands and products. For her, marketing is not associated with advertising. They market the toys through word of mouth by hosting various creative events like puppet shows performed by the team of Gully Gully Sim Sim, book reading and book signing events for little children, Daddy and Me Kite Flying festival and many more. A good leader according to Ms. Shiffali is the one who works from the heart. She sees how things are going and keeps her entire team in mind before taking decisions, as at the end of the day they are the ones interacting with the customers.
She advices young entrepreneurs, to passionately believe in their ideas and take them to the level they have imagined, because it is very easy to lose out on one’s imagination.