We had the good fortune of connecting with Sujata Mody Kamdar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sujata, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I’m a mom, I own a company, I am an active volunteer in my community, I love to workout, read, cook, socialize, learn, and so much more! Not surprising, balance is something that is always top of mind for me. Achieving a balanced and fulfilled life is an ongoing process for me. I have learned through lots of episodes of feeling tired and overwhelmed that I need to continually work to find balance. I do this in many ways: 1. First and foremost, I remind myself often that ‘I get to do something’ rather than ‘I have to do something’. It’s amazing how changing that one little word from Have to Get really puts you in the mentality of being grateful. Easy example that applies to everyone: I don’t have to workout, I get to workout. See how different that is? I get to workout because I’m healthy and strong -it’s a gift! 2. I make lists and schedules. By keeping my life organized, I am able to make time for the different things I want to do. It also keeps my anxiety at bay, as everything is on paper and not floating around in my head and overwhelming me! (Do I ever toss my lists out the door and say forget it? Heck yeah!.. sometimes you just gotta let loose!) 3. I consider myself a work in progress. I accept that change in life is continuous and we have to adapt and readapt and adapt again. I am continually learning more about myself and why I do what I do and I’m also learning to give myself some grace. We have a finite amount time here on earth, so why not make the most of it, right?
What should our readers know about your business?
Through the rental of specialty table linens, my company, GBS Linens, supports our clients in creating the ambiance for their special events. Whether it be a backyard bbq, wedding, convention, or celebration of life, decor sets the mood for an event. We pride ourselves on offering a high quality product to ensure that our part in the decor is always on point. As a family business that is celebrating our 36th year this month (September 21st to be exact), we have seen all of the ups and downs that come with owning a business. Funny enough, as I write this, I’d say that we are in the most difficult time of our business’s life. As our business is centered around people gathering – parties, weddings, conventions, etc – COVID brought our entire industry to a grinding halt back in March. Since then, our business has been essentially shut down. Although I’ve seen years where business has dropped such as the recession back in 2007/2008, never could I have imagined that we’d drop to zero. Very painful decisions had to be made right away including furloughing 95% of our team. I consider my team to be an extension of my family. Hence, having to furlough them really hurt. Not to mention, there was a part of me that felt I was destroying my fathers legacy. My father, the founder of GBS Linens, passed away in 2016 and he trusted me to carry on his business. Although I know COVID was not in my control, there was a part of me that still felt very sad and guilty. Now we’re over 6 months into this closure, and although we’re nowhere near where we were before COVID, we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Events definitely don’t look the same, but people are starting to plan special events again. What have I learned so far? SOOO many things! 1. Build a strong foundation- Thankfully we built a strong foundation over the years, including a strong balance sheet, an amazing team, and a loyal client base. So although we have suffered some loss (we had to close two locations), we know we’re going to make it through this. 2. Use your time wisely – when your business is running, time goes by quickly and you are so busy working on the urgent, you seldom remember to work on the important things. As we have been closed for these months, our little team that we were able to keep on has been working furiously on infrastructure plans to ensure that when we are able to fully open our doors again, we will be able to work more efficiently and be an even stronger partner to our clients. 3. Don’t lose hope – I remind myself of this everyday! This too shall pass. 4. Think of new opportunities – When you are part of an industry that essentially was blown up by COVID, you have to sit back and really think about whether you believe in your industries ability to come back as well as be open to thoughts of possible new opportunities you can pursue with the assets you already own. I firmly believe my industry will be back, but I also have been keeping my heart, eyes, and ears open to new opportunities.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
After becoming a mom I came to the bold realization that I have only 18 short (and quickly passing!) years with my kids under my roof before we have to launch them. I want them to have a mom who supports and loves them and shows, rather than tells, them what it means to work hard. So I’d like to thank my babies, Rohan and Janvi, for being my inspiration to work on becoming a better human being every day.
Alex Mo Photography, Frances Tang Photography, KT Crabb Photography