Today I’m happy to be sharing an interview with Ishita Ranjan, better known as Ranj. I’ve been in touch with Ranj for a few years, thanks to mutual friends and our involvement with Student Hubs. Ranj is encouraging, helpful, intelligent and ambitious. These qualities come together in her latest venture, Care Package Company. Read on to see what Ranj has to say about starting a social enterprise, self care and more.
Molly: To start us off, what is Care Package Co?
Ranj: It’s a social enterprise that designs care packages that pop through your letterbox. The goal of our care packages is to encourage creativity, self care and reflection. All of the products in the packages help to facilitate those things. You can buy one for yourself or as a gift. Our aim is to encourage people to put a little love back into the world, one way or another.
Molly: That’s great. What prompted you to set it up?
Ranj: Setting up a business had been a pipe dream for years, but I lacked an idea. Then, last year, I got ill and needed surgery. During that period, my friends took the time to make me care packages and they never failed to brighten up my day. That’s where the idea originally came from. Once I recovered from surgery, I worked on developing it into an actual business.
Molly: It’s interesting that the idea arose from personal experience. Is self care important to you? Why?
Ranj: So important – for lots of reasons! Firstly, I’m healthier and happier when I make a conscious and active effort to prioritise self care. It means I appreciate my days more, I make better choices and I enjoy my own headspace. The second reason is that it helps me to be more focused and productive. I love what I do and I’m happier when I have that sense of achievement. Finally, self care helps me to understand my own emotions. This enables me to be emotionally available and present for the people in my life, meaning better relationships all round.
Molly: Those are all reasons I relate to. What practical steps do you take to look after yourself?
Ranj: For me it’s about three things: how I spend my time, how I get my endorphins and how I find calm. I try to say no to things I don’t want to do and make time for things and people that genuinely make me smile. I find my endorphins by exercising, so I really prioritise this in my weekly schedule. I find my calm in quiet moments, often involving good books, cups of tea and reflection. I’m very much an introvert, so if I have a week packed with plans, I’ll be sure to block out alone time. I won’t deny myself nights out, desserts or wine, but I will make sure they’re balanced by nights in, healthy options, exercise and lots of water. Balance and good planning are everything!
Molly: That sounds like a great approach. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since beginning your career?
Ranj: That your own sense of self is the most important guiding factor. You’ll hear stories of amazing achievements and maybe compare yourself to your peers, but your path will be different. Spend time figuring out who you are and what you want from your career. What do you like doing? What makes you smile? What brings you fulfilment? Once you know what makes you tick, the next steps are much easier.
Molly: I agree. There’s value in staying focused on your interests and priorities. Do you have any role models or people whose approaches to work and life you admire? If so, why do you admire them?
Ranj: Absolutely. My mother is a doctor by profession as well as a dedicated mum, wife and friend, 24/7. She not only keeps all the plates spinning, but does so in some really high pressure situations, from delivering babies to raising them. She’s incredibly focused and I’m sure that’s what’s made her so successful. Beyond that, she has a childlike enthusiasm for life and makes sure she enjoys it. My mother spends her money on travelling, her time on people and her energy on living life. If that isn’t inspiration, I don’t know what is!
Molly: Your mum sounds brilliant. More specifically, do you have any tips for hopeful social entrepreneurs?
Ranj: Firstly, find what you care about the most and act on it. What keeps you up at night? What makes you angry? What makes you want to do something about it? It’s a tough game and you need that fire in your belly to keep going. Secondly, don’t be a hero entrepreneur and don’t buy into them. You don’t have to be the world’s best leader, a revolutionary visionary or a hero at all. Entrepreneurs (social or not) are just like everyone else. Make sure you keep learning and trying. There’s never going to be a right time to try, so take a chance. Begin small and keep it lean, but make sure to start.
Molly: Good advice. What’s inspiring you at the moment?
Ranj: All things feminist and funny. I’m currently reading How to Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran, listening to The Guilty Feminist Podcast and (re)watching Parks and Recreation. There are so many smart, funny, fierce women creating their own version of art out there. They are definitely helping me find inspiration and confidence.
Molly: Excellent. Those are some of my favourite things.
End of interview.
Thanks to Ranj for sharing her insights. You can find Ranj on Twitter and Instagram, as well as at ranjwrites.com. You can also keep up to date with Care Package Co on Twitter and Instagram. To view the current gift range, visit carepackageco.co.uk.
This post isn’t sponsored, but please say hello if you’d like to work together.