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  • Writer's pictureNurmasita Anawula

Laras Anggraini: The Challenges of Balancing Multiple Roles as Women Entrepreneur

Smitten by Pattern is a local brand that provides patterned merchandise. Established in 2017, the brand has a vision of becoming a one-stop store for patterned merchandise. The business itself was started as Laras's side job while working 9-5 in a multinational company. Currently, Smitten by Pattern has widen its reach to the global market representing the diversity of the fashion and textile industry in Indonesia.

What are the challenges you faced while being a female entrepreneur?

When we talk about female entrepreneurs specifically, it is much correlated with challenges I faced in 2021 where in the middle of the pandemic my partner decided to resign and those happened just a few months after I gave birth to my first child. So female entrepreneurs not only face business challenges but also challenges of changing roles, responsibilities, and changes that occur in the family. Not to mention the multiple roles that need to be carried out. So the biggest challenge as a female entrepreneur is how to manage time, thoughts, and emotions. Then how to make decisions efficiently to maintain a balance between our roles at home and at work.

How does this multiple roles impact your business performance?

It is surely impacting our fighting spirit in running our business. Maybe if I were a man, when there were challenges of ABCD, I could’ve easily found mentors and other support to get back on my feet. But as a mother and wife, it seems harder to get those kinds of support. The emotional support needs to be doubled. We must have a support system that is very very strong to be able to push us back on the right track.

In my case, at that time I almost decided to end Smitten by Pattern because I already felt exhausted facing all of these problems. Then I gathered with all the team to discuss this. So that's precisely where part of the privilege of my all-female team is. So they really empathize with what I'm going through. They are the ones who say to not give up, that we have to keep moving forward, and they are willing to give any kind of support. So we looked for ways to solve all the problems we had one by one and found a solution. And without realizing it, those times have passed.

What support do you think is harder to get as a female entrepreneur?

Actually, I don't know what other women are experiencing, but for me it's a matter of managing time and having multiple roles. This challenge becomes quite real because time cannot be compromised. Some people may be privileged enough to get a wholesome support system so that all roles can be delegated properly. But for women who have to go to the office, be mobile, at the same time they also have to take care of their children and push themselves to stay up to date with all kinds of market trends. That opportunity, in my opinion, is more harder for women to get. I also want to share personal experiences. so I'm actually quite encouraged by communities like Stellar Women. There were online courses that I could learn anytime to  solve my time management problems. With online training and networking that can be done efficiently, I can listen to a webinar from Stellar Women while working or breastfeeding. For men it may not mean much but for women it is very valuable.

Besides practicing flexibility, what have you done to balance your time?

Look for a way to handle it. We have to try to be at least a little bit better every day. Apart from having a support system, we also need to analyze what is actually the main cause of my time management problem? Is there really a way of working that is less efficient, does any of my team need more support, or is my decision-making method perhaps less efficient? These are things that we have to look at thoroughly.  So I attended a lot of leadership training and that was quite helps in improving myself in the future. and don't forget to try to communicate that to the team so that everything can work together more efficiently every day.

What are the benefits you have gain from being female entrepreneur?

In fact, there are a lot of advantages. the first one maybe from my personal perspective, it turns out that this journey brings so much value to me and without realizing it I’ve gained a great experience and learning that I would not get from any company. It also correlated with self-worth where I can contribute more at home. so we have more enthusiasm every day because we have an impact that we want to give both to the surrounding and to our small team.

The second is financial independency. although the turmoil is a lot and stressful. I didn’t expect it was possible to turn a side-job business into a real business that can be a legacy to my children. If he wants to continue this business. Then also networking, because my biggest fear when I left my full time job was the fear of not having friends. it turns out that in fact you can make lots of new friends from various backgrounds ranging from customers, clients, partners, and others. Other benefits is it can empower my family, especially to my younger sisters, I am becoming a set example for younger sisters who want to start ventures. 

What are your hopes for the progress of female entrepreneurs in Indonesia?

To be able to see more female leaders to show up to share experiences and show up as themselves. because there are many women who work behind the scenes, when they appear and show their efforts, they could bring a tremendous impact on other women. It's also rooted from the ecosystem we've made. I hope there are more communities that can provide space for all female entrepreneurs to gather and grow together by sharing experiences.

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