NAME: Ashima Kakar
JOB TITLE: Co-founder, BottledUp
MOVED TO THE UAE IN: 2013
Born in India, raised in Kenya and now settled in Dubai for the last 9 years, Ashima has truly seen the world. After working full-time in the healthcare industry until she had her first son in 2017, Ashima made the conscious decision to take a long maternity break to dedicate time to her son. Being away from the healthcare industry gave her an outsider's view and that’s when she realised that she wanted to try her hand at other ventures - ones that she felt more passionately about.
Ashima started working with her friend’s start-up, and the work from home flexibility came as a welcome change to the long hours that are required in the healthcare environment. This slow transition into the work-life was the perfect opportunity for her to maintain her work-life-family balance and also to figure out how to achieve her dreams of launching her own business. In 2020 when the world had shut down and Ashima was pregnant with her second child, an opportunity came knocking and that's when the journey of BottledUp began.
BottledUp is the passion project of two friends who descend from the rich heritage of India. Having spent most of their adult lives outside India, their palates have adapted to a range of cuisine from all over the world. With friends from the Middle East and Western demographic who enjoy bold flavours yet cannot incorporate them into their daily meal, this is where the idea was born.
About 8 years ago her friend and Ashima would cook and bottle spreads in their home kitchen and sell at local markets. These spreads were the unique combinations of fresh produce from the west and spices from the east. They had an excellent response from these markets and were quite content with it being a passion project rather than their main business. However, things changed for the better in 2020 when they applied for the Spinneys launched the Incubator program and were chosen as one of the winners.
Our journey with Spinneys started in October 2020 however it took us a year and a half to finally launch. Setting up a new company, rebranding and developing the product took its time and they finally launched in spinneys and Waitrose stores in January 2022.
What Ashima's day looks like...
8AM: Packing off my son to school. Getting him ready, packing his snack box and school drop off in the gruelling traffic. My mornings are chaotic and full of energy. The school run takes about 45 min after which I sit down to eat my breakfast and enjoy my cup of coffee. I read the newspaper before I start my workday (still old school that way. Need a paperback version).
9AM: I start my work by 9 am. Since my company is a startup I handle everything from operations to marketing to finance to delivery. An all-in-one job description. I use the first half of the day for all my meetings so that by 1 I can take a couple of hours off to be with the kids. The day starts with going through and replying to all emails followed by handling social media. Firefighting and planning for the next set of activities generally take over the first half of my day. I am an active member of a few female networking groups in Dubai so once in a while I head to these. They turn out to be a wonderful way to spend the morning
1pm: I eat my lunch by 1 pm. It’s a quick one that’s eaten on the kitchen counter. After this I spend some time with my daughter playing, reading or in general taking her with me if I'm running errands. By 2 pm my daughter and I head to pick my son up from school together. Once back home, an hour is spent washing up, feeding the kids and doing any school work. After that, it's TV time and back to work.
4PM: This is generally after school activity time. Swimming Lessons, soccer and playdates. This is the peak activity time for my kids. I try and be a part of most of this however sometimes work duty calls, Thankfully my husband is back from work by this time so where needed he steps in. Work relations with those who have different day jobs start post 4 pm. So handling the kids and stepping out in between to take a call or two is normal. Around 5 pm I start dinner preps.
7PM: This is dinner time in our household. It is the only time of the day that the four of us get to sit together and spend some time. The kids are still very young so most of this time is spent pleading with them to eat and with food flying in our faces. However, it’s also the time that we know counts the most. By 7:30 we take the kids to shower and bed. A gruelling assembly line of activities such as wash, dry, diaper, clothe, brush and bed, it’s all teamwork!
8PM: This is the time that my husband and I sit back and breathe. The house is quiet as the kids are off to sleep and we sit down with a cup of green tea or ice cream and catch up on the day. We like to watch TV together and spend some time watching shows on Netflix. Once a week, my business partner and I schedule our weekly zoom calls around this time. Once our kids are in bed and we can chat without any disturbance we go through our weekly schedules and targets. It’s the most productive hour of the day in the sense of planning ahead.
10PM: Just before bedtime between 10 - 10.30 I do a quick run-through of social media to check what everyone is up to. My DMs generally go out at this time. I make some quick notes of what needs to be done the next day. The last 10-15 min before lights out I read. I've always been an avid reader and a good book helps me unwind and forget everything else around me. Sometimes that 10mins becomes an hour but a good one at that.