Ruchita Dar Shah has been the pioneer in bringing thousands of new age mums together on one platform. Her Facebook group First Moms Club(FMC) boasts of mommies, not only from India but all across the world. The group not only supports but empowers mothers to enjoy the process of parenting. Stylewhack had an opportunity to have a chat with her and know about her journey. Here are the excerpts.
How did you come up with the idea for First Moms Club? Can you tell us a little about the journey of FMC?
I was the first in my circle of friends to have a baby. In our generation, we don’t depend as much on our mothers or aunts for support, as much as we do on our peers. Initially I started First Moms Club on Facebook to connect with my girlfriends. The group allowed us to share our post-pregnancy experiences, fears and uncertainties with each other. While we were different in many ways, the one thing common that bound all of us was that we were all grappling with this new promotion and designation of ‘mother’. Most of us felt the need to reach out and figure it out together without worrying about being judged or being labeled ‘not good enough’.
Seeing mothers from all over the world connecting and communicating with one another is very rewarding. Because that is precisely why the group was created to begin with. Now we have over 75,000 moms in the FMC network across the Facebook group, our native mobile App, and other social platforms like the FB page, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
What does being the admin of such a growing and popular FB group entail?
Over the years, FMC’s core goal has been to ensure its members have a non-judgmental, meaningful platform to share with and help each other lead more fulfilling lives. While there are always exceptions FMC’s blessed to have fellow mommies like myself who highlight anything out of whack. And so I’d say it’s mostly self regulated along with a healthy dose of vigilance from myself.
How do you distinguish your group from similar groups around?
The biggest challenge for FMC and platforms like it, is to ensure the essence and relevance of the community is maintained even as it scales. It’s a lot easier to be useful and meaningful for 1000 members. It’s quite another to be so, without quality dilution, for 100,000 and beyond. Staying true to why I started it in the first place whilst still growing, is the biggest challenge, but also FMC’s USP!
FMC has been built and grown organically. While most websites or platforms address only parenting concerns, FMC is completely dedicated to the woman behind the mother. She is the one who is often forgotten in this roller-coaster journey called Motherhood. As against most parenting sites or expert pages, FMC is powered by us mommy members ourselves. It’s not a one-way ‘gyan’ giving platform, but one where every woman/mom can voice her opinion and bond over common issues. It’s almost like each mom has a megaphone in her hand and she is not afraid to voice her opinion on this platform.
FMC members on our App have to adhere to certain rules, that they are reminded about every now and then. Like no advertising of their personal businesses, no posting ‘Cute Baby Contests’, no posting personal photos, or sharing their numbers or email IDs on the community. And most importantly, strictly no judging or demeaning another mother. I keep a constant eye on conversation threads.
What are the commercial earnings in this profession (if any)? Is it viable as a platform for somebody who might want to take up something like this professionally?
There are several revenue opportunities but one has to be careful to balance commercial intent with relevance to members. If not, then it can very easily spin out of control, with members resenting it. Brand partnerships is an important avenue for monetization. But FMC’s simple yardstick for undertaking an initiative is that it must benefit the members, in addition to helping brands reach out so as to ensure relevance and engagement. Offline events are another important avenue. While our initial events were piloted in Mumbai we’re taking it to the mini metros, the UAE and Singapore early next year. There’s probably a large commercial opportunity to be built upon. But for anyone looking to start up in this space, the commercial possibilities shouldn’t be the primary driver.
How did The Tara Sharma Show come about, and what was your experience like?
A FMC Mommy Janice (now a dear friend ) reached out to me and connected me to Anjali Gulati of “Back To The Front”. She was looking for someone to moderate a panel on work life balance for her event. While moderating the panel I met Tara , who was the chief guest at Anjali’s event. One thing led to another and I landed up on her show. If like-minded, passionate women connect and collaborate with each other meaningfully, there is much positive energy and growth for everybody.
Tara and her team made us feel very comfortable in front of the camera. The shooting for the show hardly felt like we were filming for TV. It felt like we were couple of mommy friends chatting with each other about parenting, motherhood or career issues.
Thanks to Tara, many of us on FMC made our TV debuts too.
What does the future of FMC look like?
Very bright, I hope!! Currently FMC connects over 75,000 Indian mothers across 60 countries across our platforms on Facebook, our mobile App, site and other social platforms. The idea is to scale this manifold. We’re also looking at different forms of content to help members express themselves better. For e.g. our App’s most popular feature is helping moms express themselves anonymously. While the preferred route to connect and share on Facebook is a group video. If our offline efforts in the next 5 cities prove effective we’d like to be able to take preferred formats to cities across the world. Wherever there’s an Indian mom there should be FMC – online and offline!