We wanted to create products that showcase the Indian culture in a way that is relatable for children, but also as a tool for parents to teach their kids about who they are. Our items tell a story deeper than just what the item is at face value, they tell the story of our grandparents taking us to the temple, our parents feeding us special sweets and Indian treats and most importantly they tell our children that our roots are not just overseas, but in their play rooms, on their book shelves and proudly showcased in their classrooms.
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What made you start Little Ladoo? How did you decide on that name? How did the founding team (yourself & Vaishali) come together?
Vaishali and I met in University (Ryerson) and have been friends since. We always wanted to start a business together. We tried a few things, but sometimes due to timing, other times the idea, it never clicked. We actually started a Youtube channel and we worked really hard on that. Then we started paying attention to things around us. I noticed over the holidays all the gifts kids would receive and noticed nothing represented the children. There was a hole in the market, especially here in Canada. Vaishali’s husband suggested we write a book, so we started looking in to how with one thing leading to another and Little Ladoo was born. The name came to me quite easily, I just thought it would be cute and could also be our character. To be honest, of all the businesses I have attempted, this name was the easiest, I had no other options to even consider.
What was a challenge that you’ve recently had to overcome while running the business and how did you overcome it?
Running a business is a constant challenge. One recent one, is with our fulfillment. This is sometimes one of the hardest parts of a product-based ecommerce business. We have been doing our own fulfillment, but with some life changes we realize we won’t be able to do this for much longer, so we’ve been looking for ways to outsource this for a while. We’ve finally found something and we’ll be switching over soon – but as a small business this a huge struggle! We have been calling, researching and asking around. I remember even seeing a fulfillment van on the road that had their phone number on the side and in traffic I quickly called them. You never know where opportunities might present themselves, so keep your eyes and ears open at all times.
Is this something that you currently do full-time? If not - do you have plans to make this a full-time endeavour in the future? If not - why?
We both currently do this as a side hustle and hope to one day be able to do this full time. As much as it is challenging, it is also so rewarding being able to work on every facet of your own business.
What has the impact of social media been on your business?
Social media has been the biggest, and perhaps the only way we have been able to grow our business. The reach can be huge and every day we discover new customers but also new businesses that inspire us. Social media has so many positives, and I truly believe that if you focus on that, the sky is the limit.
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What’s one goal that, if you were to accomplish it over the next three months, would feel like a big win for you?
We are currently in the stage of some big changes for Little Ladoo and hope to create some new products by the end of the year.
What is a piece of advice you would give to other aspiring entrepreneurs, especially someone who wants to launch an e-commerce business like yours?
START. Literally, start. The to do list will keep growing, so keep writing down all the things you need to do, but prioritize what you HAVE to do to launch and work on that. Also, perfection isn’t always necessary, so do what you need to do and you can improve the details later. Yes, you need a good product/service, but the rest you can figure out and improve as you go.
How have your family and friends supported you through your journey?
For the most part, 100% YES! We appreciate the support of our friends and family so much. I am thankful for every friend and family member who have asked, purchased, liked, offered ideas, help and just been there.
I’m sure there are some that don’t get the idea, what we are doing or think it’s the best idea, but most of those people don’t share those thoughts. It is so important to remember that family and friends do not make or break your business. We can’t expect them all to purchase from us, nor should we.
What do you like to do for fun outside of work?
I am a very creative person. I love to cook, DIY projects, Arts and Crafts. I love that I’m able to use these skills in my business as well, so much of why I wanted to start something where I could use my passions.
Who is one person from the global Tamil community and one person that isn’t Tamil that you admire and why?
Tamil: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, because she reminds me of myself 20 years ago. I love that she put herself out there and made her dreams happen, all just by trying. She also is a great advocate and seems wise beyond her years. I can’t wait to see where she goes.
Non-Tamil: Sarah Blakely of Spanx. I love her story and how she created a brand and an empire – even when people thought she couldn’t.
Where do you see Little Ladoo in the next 3-5 years? Where do you see yourself in that same time period?
I hope that Little Ladoo will be a name in so many households and perhaps with more items so that more children can see themselves in the toys they play with. There is so much diversity in the world and have barely chipped the surface, so hopefully this is just the beginning!
Personally, I hope that I can be working on Little Ladoo full time, grow a team and maybe even a cute office! The sky is the limit.
What is a great business idea that you would be working on if you weren’t focused on your current business?
I have so many business idea’s…. and perhaps one day I’ll work on them, so this one I’ll have to plead the 5th.
What do you think you would tell your 16-year old self looking back?
Take risks and be more open to what life has to offer. Don’t overthink things and go for it… so many lessons!
What is your favourite book(s) you've read recently or a podcast(s) that you've listened to recently that's had an impact on you?
One of my favorite podcasts is Guy Raz’s How I Built This. There are so many good episodes, but one that I think of often is Jo Malone. I was so inspired by her perseverance, tenacity and her journey.
What is a new belief, behaviour or habit that has most improved your life?
You are never too old to do anything. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
If you were given $1 billion, how would you allocate the money to change the world?
Poverty is such a huge issue around the world, and if I could allocate the $1 billion to help those who need it most, the world could be a greater place. It is heartbreaking to see those who barely can eat, or have shelter and have so little opportunity to even have dreams.
How would you describe the impact that the Tamil community in Toronto has had on your personally and your business?
The Tamil Community is one of the most supportive communities. It has been such a pleasure to have so many Tamil followers and customers. I am proud that our first food item is reflective of my Tamil roots.
What is your favourite Tamil food (meal or dessert)?
Another hard question! I love all food, but if I had to pick my favorite, Mutton Rolls and Fish Patties for sure.
What is your favourite Tamil movie?
I’m going to take it old school and say Dum Dum Dum. I can watch that over and over and over again.
What does Tamil culture mean to you?
Tamil culture is a part of me. I was born in Chennai and my parents brought me to Canada at 6 months old, so I’ve grown up here, but being a Tamilian has always been with me. I love the deep rooted traditions, the cuisine, the colors, the scents, the fabrics, the sounds – everything.
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