There is an old African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far, go with others.”
Proving the adage right day in and day out is Ritu G, the founder of JAMM’s (Journey About Mast Moms) Network.
JAMM’s is one of the most successful women’s social support group active in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. Ritu likes to define JAMM’S as a no nonsense and complete momsense social support group for networking amongst moms based in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. The aim of the network is to provide support and networking through online engagement, offline activities and social initiatives
The core ethos of this network can be summed up in the 5 E’s listed below:
Members of the group are connected via whatsapp and social media, while they meet offline for workshops and seminars and to engage in social causes.
The most interesting part of this journey is that none of this was planned!!!
As a child, Ritu always felt that her calling was to become a teacher. Little did she realize that her dream would materialize very early in life when she was chosen to be a part of Shiamak Davar’s core dance group at the age of 13 and trained to coach students in the age range of 4 to 74 years.
After graduation she went to work in the BPO industry, beginning her career with Wipro. Given her flair for teaching, a career as a corporate trainer was a natural fit for her. As a corporate trainer she provided soft skills training to back office employees joining fresh from campus as well as entry level managers on topics as varied as communication skills, campus to corporate transition, stress management, team building, etiquette, mannerisms, email understanding etc., covering the entire gamut of inbound and outbound training for the BPO industry.
Marriage took her to Delhi wherein she continued working in the same role for Wipro, which was followed by stints at American Express and GE Capital. In between the family relocated to Australia and thereafter decided to move back to Delhi, few years later. On her return Ritu decided against taking up a full time corporate job and instead started freelancing for close to 15 clients across India catering to HR and leadership & development. As family life settled, motherhood was a natural progression. Once she fell pregnant she bid goodbye to a full time corporate career and instead became a full-time mum- a choice made willingly. Alongside she dabbled in a mompreneur venture “Aapka Makaan Hamaari Dukaan” which was an ecommerce portal selling home fashions like cushions, mugs, coasters etc. The ecommerce portal was a means of keeping her productively engaged and not really a means to augment the family’s income. Later she moved to Mumbai and the venture fizzled out as she was not very motivated to keep it going.
A Mumbaikar would understand how alienating it is to start afresh in one part of Mumbai when you have grown in another. Ritu felt the same when she moved to Bhandup after being away from the city for close to 8 years.
She claims she started the JAMM’s network purely for selfish reasons. It started out as a group of 20 mothers which included close friends and relatives of Ritu’s inner circle. Ritu was the only common link for them at that point in time. From the beginning Ritu was very particular about JAMM’s being a no-nonsense group. Members were not allowed to post jokes, forwards, no wishes on birthdays or festivals were allowed. It was strictly a group for sharing parenting and children related information. She was very clear that the network is not for mums looking for kitty parties or wanting to sob over mom in law issues or maid crisis. As the adage goes- “Your vibe attracts your tribe “and that’s precisely what happened when within a week one of the members of the group requested to add another mother known to her and through word of mouth and referral the network started growing. What also helped was the fact that Ritu herself is fond of socializing and getting people connected. Today JAMM’s has grown to a community of 40,000+ mums, while being a secret group. The ethos of the small 20-member group has been kept intact as JAMM’s expands.
As much as she knew that moms want to spend time chilling, hanging out, shaking a leg or just being themselves, the same cannot be sustained for too long. In order to provide the personal connect among members, Ritu instead started organizing workshops for members. So far, the group has organized 350 workshops, and all of these have been complimentary. The idea is to bring women together to enhance their skills which will empower them as a mother-who is also the core of the house. So far, she has conducted workshops for cooking, grooming, masala bhangra, zumba, parenting, work from home seminars, prevention of child sex abuse to name a few.
Ritu says that in metros mostly families are becoming nuclear, so when in doubt women do not know whom to ask. Also, with the rapid growth of social media and other digital interventions families have become more judgmental and biased. Women in the support group do not personally know each other so it becomes easier for them to seek information without the fear of being judged.
JAMM’s has also picked up a lot of crowdfunding campaigns for charity and varied social initiatives. A cause is picked up and a target and deadline are allocated to the same. Every penny collected is passed on to the cause. On completion of 365 days, JAMM’s gave 365 haircuts to under privileged children, on completion of 550 days, JAMM’s did 550 complimentary things for the blind like giving them 550 complimentary eye checkups, walking sticks, dark glasses etc. On completion of 850 days, 850 sarees were donated to underprivileged women in rural India. The last charity drive undertaken was for cancer effected kids as young as 1.5 months old. JAMM’s raised 6.5 lakhs through a 30-day campaign.
Every day of the week has been allocated a theme -Make up Shake up Monday, Tadka Tuesday, Wedsexday Wednesday, Guruwaar Gyaan, Friday Flea , Saturday Sense. Members can share related content through blogs, Youtube videos etc. Interaction time is 7 am to 11 pm.
As JAMM’S has grown so have the aspiration for the network, given the overwhelming positive response. Ritu aspires to take it to other metros as well as tier 2 cities and thereafter international as well. While she does have a lot of existing investor interest, she is not ready to scale up yet. Right now, her focus is to work on the parenting blog and set up a website for the group. She also confesses to being blighted by founder’s syndrome!
Follow the link to watch the film about JAMM’s network:
Other than its core motives of networking, empowerment and philanthropy, JAMM’s has also emerged as a very good platform for any entrepreneur looking to connect with upper middle class, educated women who are smart phone savvy. JAMM’s has worked with a lot of brands ranging from startups to local businesses like restaurants, mompreneur businesses etc., national brands like Godrej and international brand like Ergobaby, Gaia, Johnsons, Skechers to name a few. The community can be explored for raising awareness for any activity like a kid’s festival, kids fashion week, learning workshops etc. While the network does not guarantee conversions, it does help in awareness building as the network can easily provide sharply segmented target audience.
JAMM’s is an all-inclusive group, it has connected moms with special children, single mothers, grand mothers, it’s a one stop shop for all. The whatsapp groups are created based on age of the child and area of residence. In addition, there are also interest specific groups like book reading group, music group, pets group etc. JAMM’s also has groups to connect women from the same profession like mommy bloggers group, lawyers group, counsellors group, doctors group, trainers group etc.
JAMM’s also hosts Speed Networking Sutra where women entrepreneurs are invited to come and network with other women entrepreneurs. The event brings together women entrepreneurs from different fields together under one roof. The idea is that a womanpreneur walks in a gathering where she knows no one and walks out with multiple contacts which can help her grow.
On the personal front Ritu confesses that balance is a myth. Motherhood and parenthood teach you a lot of patience. Being a hands-on mom for her daughter Sara, she does everything from cooking, to packing the tiffin, to dropping her to hobby classes. And in between she finds the time to devote to JAMM’s network-a multi tasker to the core. One of the quotes she draws inspiration from and follows to the T is “Fire yourself every Friday and Hire yourself every Monday morning”. Over weekends she is never at home. Either she takes her daughter along to the workshops being conducted by JAMM’s, or they catch a movie, a musical, a play or indulge in any indoor or outdoor physical activity. She religiously takes a holiday every month – a practice she adopted last year and the same has continued this year as well.
She confesses that she misses the corporate role only for the perks, and the luxury of being in an air-conditioned environment all day. However, she would not trade it for what she does now not only for the flexibility that it brings but also for the visible difference that it makes in so many lives on a daily basis. JAMM’s is a multi-award-winning moms community with a lot of feather’s in its cap. Akshay Kumar and Aditya Thackrey help organize a self-defense workshop and JAMM’S is the only platform used to shout out the same. One of the mums who attended the workshop saved a molestation bid at Ghatkopar station which received a lot of press coverage.
To all mums out there Ritu’s advice is to engage in something productive. If it gives you a little pocket money, why not? Else look for something that keeps you occupied for atleast 4 to 6 hours a day. In the end it’s all about keeping yourself mentally engaged and gain financial independence, so take baby steps towards it.
It would fair to conclude this article with a quote Ritu draws inspiration from “Even if you cannot do great things… Let’s do small things in a great way”
If you are mother wanting to join the JAMM’s network, you need to drop an email to [email protected] . The only requirement to be a part of the group is that you should be a mother.
JAMM’s Network social media links