This week for my Parents in Business series I’m delighted to be featuring Sonal who created and set-up the business; This is Silk. Sonal had always wanted to set up her own business, and after having two children she realised that her current work life of being a criminal barrister was simply not compatible with the family life that she wanted. At the same time Sonal realised just how powerful silk can be as a fabric, so this seemed to be the ideal time to set up her business specialising in silk products.
Since setting up the business Sonal has been featured in The Independent with the best buy silk pillowcase, which is quite an achievement. Sonal also shares very similar advice that I would give anyone wanting to try something new, which is to “just do it”. Have a read of Sonal’s story below…..
Tell me a little bit about you, your background, and your business?
I am a mother of two girls, one dog and 4 chickens, and I run This Is Silk. We all live in the Cotswolds, having moved here from London recently, so we are in the middle of finding our feet/paws/chicken feet.
Before setting up the business, I was a criminal barrister for over a decade. I loved every minute of it until I had children, and I soon realised that the demands of life at the criminal Bar are sadly completely incompatible with what I wanted out of family life. However, closing one door led to opening another, and I have always believed in taking (careful) risks and generally jumping in with both feet, so I did what I dreamt of doing when I was a child and started my own business. I have always been quite ambitious, and that didn’t go away with motherhood, but I did want to change tack.
What were your motivations for setting up your business?
I have always wanted to set up my own business, and almost did before I went into the law. When the youngest was born in 2017 and I was mindful of my 40th birthday milestone approaching, I decided to just ignore my fears and reservations and go for it. I knew from general life experience, and the small amount of self-awareness that I possess, that the business would have to involve something I really, really loved, and something I felt pretty strongly about. It also had to be something I really respected, and that is how I ended up in Silk. It has been around for almost 8,000 years and scientists are still discovering new and incredible things about it. It just felt right, and I know it will keep me interested for the rest of my life. Very specifically, the Silk came to mind when the youngest was tiny. I was suffering from hot flashes which I think were the result of hormones settling back down postpartum and the only fabric I was comfortable sleeping on was Silk. I had also stopped using many skincare and haircare products to keep chemicals to a minimum whilst breastfeeding, and I realised what a heavy-lifter Silk is for both skin and hair. I started researching it, devouring as much literature as I could find and that was that…
How do you balance the business around your family and childcare?
I have to be totally honest and say that this would not have been possible without the support of my husband. He is a star. It was a struggle at first, because everything to do with the business was new to me and there was a lot of learning involved. At first, I would work in the evenings every day when they were in bed, and although I still do this, I think it is because I am just a night owl who prefers working in the evenings. I have learned to delegate, which is possible now that the business is established, and I very, very rarely work at weekends, because I want to spend time having as much fun as possible with the family.
Since setting up your business what’s been your biggest success to date?
I have enjoyed every minute of it, and love running a business dealing with Silk, which I love, and it is incredibly fulfilling to see women fall in love with Silk like I have done, but there are two things of which I am especially proud.
The first one is winning the ‘Best Buy’ Silk pillowcase in the Independent. The reason is that although I adore Silk, and appreciate very high-quality things, I am not motivated by money or high luxury – I am too practical for that. I could never sell anything at ‘luxury prices’ because it does not accord with my own values. So winning this award felt like a nice hug for having the conviction to do what mattered to me i.e., selling something I love and believe in at a fair and affordable (I know this is relative) price.
What are your top tip for anyone who is thinking about setting up their own business?
It is so easy to overthink things, and this then becomes a prop for procrastination, because if you haven’t done it, you cannot fail. So the advice I have is…just do it. Life is short….do what you want to do. If you are able to, having a mentor helps. The final piece of advice is to remember that perfection is the enemy of progress. If you are not sure, go for it, get market feedback and evolve as necessary.
Thank you so much Sonal for taking part in my series it has been a pleasure to feature you.
If you like what you’re reading and would love to be part of my Parents in Business series just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a nose at some of the other businesses I have featured in the series: Broadway Kitchens, Banks’ Business Solutions, and Happy Sleepy Baby.