Priyanka Designs Little Things With Big Meaning, For Children 

What’s your story?
I am the youngest of three and was fortunate to have had a sheltered life in Bombay. After high school though, I wanted to experience independent living, outside of my comfort zone. Being obsessed with Animation (Toy Story is my favourite animated movie), I wanted to create something magical of my own, like the animators at Disney. So I decided to come to Singapore to pursue a degree in Animation.

The plan was to return to India after graduation and land a creative job. However, I continued to work in Singapore and spent most of my career in Marketing. I “fell” into marketing as a project volunteer during a defeating job hunt. Most recently, I worked on Branded Content Solutions at NBCUniversal, home to the “Minions” – so I did come close to working in the field of Animation after all.

While I enjoyed Marketing, my calling to create something special of my own grew stronger. In July 2019, I launched Ellybean, a company with unique gifts for children that also feeds kids in need. I’m driven by the smiles on children’s faces and I want to champion happy memories for kids everywhere, through design.

What excites you most about your industry?
The constant need to stay creative! Online retail and children’s products are saturated and crowded spaces, filled with amazing ideas and stiff competition. To stand out and cut through the clutter, you need to be creative in everything you do. This goes beyond building products. You also need to be innovative in the way you negotiate deals with vendors, in the way you craft your marketing strategy and you must find inventive ways to distribute your product. You constantly need to think on your feet and be creative in the way you operate, and this is the most inspiring, challenging and exciting aspect of my industry.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Bombay, and sculpted in Singapore! I’ve been exposed to rich cultural experiences, have learnt how to appreciate and celebrate diversity, and always felt a certain warmth from Asia! My experiences have shaped my personality, my work ethic, and so much more. I am privileged to have two homes in Asia and can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
My favourite city in Asia for business is Bombay. I love working in my hometown when it comes to building & developing products. Usually, this begins with sourcing raw materials in a bustling, colourful and densely packed market. There is a certain thrill, when you are negotiating with vendors while trying to avoid oncoming traffic at the same time. While it involves a fair amount of hustle and knowing the lay of the land, you are able to find just about anything you want. There are an abundance of supplies, skilled craftsmen and competition, alike. The energy of the people in Bombay makes me feel like anything is possible and that nothing is out of reach!

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Know your Purpose. When I was starting out, I received this piece of advice from 2 different mentors and also chanced upon a quote: “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Running a business is challenging, and there are times when I feel like giving up, but remembering why I started out, and what my purpose is – helps me overcome the bad days and stay on my path. I believe half the battle is to just keep going. 

Who inspires you?
I draw inspiration from many of my family members, peers, and friends, who have taken risks and challenged themselves in their own fields. I’m also inspired by the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism, as it teaches you to conduct yourself with compassion, courage, wisdom and strength – even in times of adversity.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The power of a positive mindset, and how quickly it can bring change! Recently, I was extremely stressed and gutted by the impact of Covid-19 on the business. Sales had plummeted and operations in India and Singapore had to be ceased. After worrying for weeks, I made a conscious effort to adopt a positive mindset. This meant being task-focused and dedicating my time towards things that are within my control, instead of constantly being negative and worrying about the future. While it is still early days, I can already feel a positive change and I feel better equipped to tackle obstacles that come my way.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

  • I would have launched Ellybean sooner! I was less risk averse and more fearless when I was younger.
  • I would have paid more attention in Math class. Accounting and finance is my kryptonite!

How do you unwind?
I give in to what I feel like doing at the time – it could be a short kickboxing workout, walking my dog, a glass of wine with friends, listening to a good song, cooking a nice meal or a 10-minute meditation. I also love to paint so I get back to the canvas and take a break from the screen.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali! I’ve always come back from Bali feeling re-energized and with some great memories. I love that Bali has so much to offer for every mood – you could read and unwind by the pool, enjoy a cocktail, and watch the sunset at any of the amazing beach clubs. You can party at night and then enjoy a relaxing massage the next day, and then do it all over again! I also love the warm hospitality Bali offers. I’m grateful that we live in Singapore and have such easy access to so many great destinations for quick getaways.

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice From the Best In the World,” by Timothy Ferris. The book is a compilation of interviews, ranging from iconic entrepreneurs and top athletes, to billionaire investors, and more. It’s packed with business and personal advice, tactics, and some very actionable insights that have motivated and helped me greatly.

Shameless plug for your business:
Ellybean makes it easy for friends and parents to find unique, personalized gifts for the children they love, while giving back to children in need. With every Ellybean purchase, you can feed a child in need as we donate 5% to Feeding India. We love to create little things with big meaning, and we promise to make you and your little one feel super special. Choose from our best selling “name” crayons and personalized doodle books, personalized bags, and more, to make your next gift more magical at www.ellybeandesigns.com

How can people connect with you?
You can email me at [email protected], or find me on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/priyankabeswal/
You can also visit Ellybean on Instagram: @ellybeandesigns

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ series of more than 500 interviews

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Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.

Connect with Callum on Twitter and LinkedIn
Download free copies of his books at www.callumlaing.com