Meet Ankita Lodha Maskara. Working as an executive for a prestigious firm like Fabindia, Ankita ‘s life was sorted as per our conventional societal standards. She was married to an investment adviser, had a well-paying, comfortable job and was almost on the verge of stepping into the next stage of her life as a mother.
But Ankita’s burning passion to build something of her own extinguished the need for a laid-back life.
The journey wasn’t easy or quick. Even after taking the plunge of giving up her job, Ankita went through a number of collaborations to finally establish her own solo venture ‘Play O Amusement’. She started off by introducing push carts in shopping malls and received an encouraging response from mothers. This motivated her to pan out and innovate a new product in her kitty.
And this is how Fun On Wheels, India’s first play bus, happened.
The idea was very raw. I researched and found that the concept is still very much unexplored in our country. I drafted the design and looked around but there was actually no example to follow. Buying a bus and converting it seemed like the easiest route but when I actually came for the ground work, things were not at all easy. I was turned away from everywhere!
In spite of the challenges, Ankita was adamant and persistent. Finally, after three months of hard-core research, she got a ray of hope when she found her first stepping stone.
So, walking a tightrope as mother, wife, and daughter-in-law, Ankita went ahead to stay on the ground for four months with the labor to get her bus made the way she wanted it. Having zero guidelines, right from designing to execution, Ankita faced odds at every step to get her dream project off the ground.
Ankita shares that it was indeed a task to make sure the bus had every ingredient of an entertaining party while at the same time ensuring the safety of kids. There was space constraint to fit in the ball pool, rollers, wobbly mirrors, Burma bridge, zipline, and hanging bashers, among other things in a compact space of a bus. Nevertheless, the safety and quality were not compromised at any stage.
Fun On Wheels comes with a dedicated team which assists and entertains kids throughout the event. Apart from fun soft plays, it hosts a number of activities like karaoke, documentary screening, nail art and fun food grilling. This play bus is not static so the venue literally drives to the place without costing you a bomb.
I wanted my product to be entertaining but not an expensive affair. I also wanted it to be something which is not just entertaining for kids but a trophy to the parents too. I am a mother and I know how exhausting it can be to be at your kids’ disposal on a wedding or any other event. Yes, we are mothers, but we are individuals too.
A sense of individuality is what kept Ankita going, in spite of the odds. She says society will always shame you for prioritizing your work over your home, but as long as your family is encouraging and motivating, it shouldn’t bother anyone.
I have taken care of my daughter as I fed her, hummed her to sleep, entertained her while at the same time shot work mails and made presentations for my meetings. It was exhausting and sometimes I felt life to be unfair to women who are working. But then, I hope when my daughter sees me working and taking my work as seriously as her or my family, I hope she grows up with a better sense of independence and individuality.
Ankita hopes that by the time her daughter grows up, women don’t carry the guilt anymore. Apart from gifting parents an exciting gift of Fun On Wheels, Ankita Lodha has become a shining example for women who want to go out and conquer the world, but are still caught up in a web of barriers like societal conventions, age, and motherhood.
For all the yummy mommys out there, yes, you are a daughter, wife, daughter-in-law and a mother – and you are fabulously managing it all – but you are also your own person and it’s time you prioritize your aspirations too.
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