Interview with the dotting daughter who helps mom deliver happiness in the form of book sleeves and more – Neha Garg
Hello Neha! Glad to have had the opportunity to conduct an interview into the life of the ‘Fur Book Sleeve Queen’ or should I say the daughter of the fur book sleeve queen! Thank you for being a part of the second installment of my ‘The Tycoon Thirteen Talks’ where I interview small business owners on Instagram regarding their journey.
I am a proud hoarder of almost all the fur book sleeves you have to offer and I cannot wait to procure all the others. But I also know that the other products you offer are of prime quality and equally beautiful. I cannot wait to try more of them.
Let’s begin with the interview…
Q. We know a lot about the business and the items that you bring to us via your Instagram page but tell us something about you! Who is Neha Garg?– AnM
If it was a job interview, I would have talked about what I have done in my engineering career so far but since it is not..it’s a little harder. Let’s see. The adjectives I would use to describe myself are average, introvert, over-thinker, bookworm, multi-hobbyist, and socially awkward. I have always tried to do things by the book but I am rebellious when it comes to certain things like the societal expectation of how a girl should behave. Also, I am a panda during the day and an owl by the night.– Neha Garg
Q. Personally, I feel like the best part about your business is that you do it with your mother. How well do you and your mother get along and how much does the business help? Have there ever been times when the orders made you patch up with your mum?– AnM
We get along very well. Even though my mum was very strict when I was young (she is so much chiller now), we had our moments. Being the eldest child, she would share her troubles with me and that brought us closer. She is my role model..my idol of tolerance. I would do anything to see her smile. And yes, Reading Owl Creations has helped our bond. We spend hours on phone discussing ideas, orders, and other things. Pending orders usually get me worked up but mom fixes it all by working tirelessly. 🙂– Neha Garg
Q. How did you get this idea of making book sleeves? And how hard was the process of getting the measurements and the stitching right?– AnM
I was smitten by the idea of owning a book sleeve. I couldn’t get the ones I saw all over my social media because most of them were from creators abroad and international shipping is crazy. It was then that I asked my mom to try and make one for me. It turned out really good, if not the best. Even though my desire for a book sleeve was fulfilled(I also bought multiples through various makers in India), I knew this experiment could lead to something else.
But it took us a lot of time to decide what foam to use, what sizes were best for books, kindles, laptops. Even today, if its an order with a specific size requirement, we go nuts discussing what measurements would be best. Then we don’t have factory-like high-end machines that can work through thick foam easily. I have seen my mom getting frustrated when a finished piece goes wrong because the machine would suddenly pull something and tear the whole thing.– Neha Garg
Q. Why is it called The Reading Owl Creations? Were there any other names in your mind? I would love to know them if there were!– AnM
Truth be told, I am not a huge fan of this name. It just came to be because of my bookstagram handle ‘The Reading Owl’. My husband gave me this name because I can spend hours reading late into the night. So when we started the shop and were brainstorming shop names, it kind of came to be and was stuck because everyone in the fam seemed to like it. I had a few more names in mind.. ‘Mom’s stitchery/boutique’ but they did not represent the essence somehow that it was mostly about books.– Neha Garg
Q. What are all the products that you have to offer?– AnM
We started mainly with book, kindle, and laptop sleeves but ideas from customers have enabled us to expand the range to Earphone pouch, Bookmark pouch, zippered pouch, tote bags, cushion covers, book dust jackets and so much more. But what we are proud to provide, are customizations. We have made sleeves in many different sizes, some with pockets inside and outside, other with zippers or with envelope flaps.– Neha Garg
Q. What is your favourite part of the entire process? Selecting materials, taking orders, getting them done and shipped or customer reviews?– AnM
I think it would be selecting materials and customer reviews.
– Selecting materials because that is what gives me time to bond with my mom. We go out shopping together, looking through shops, sorting through fabrics, discussing what would work.
– Customer reviews because they are what keeps us going. When we do not have many orders or mom is not well or we feel demotivated, looking through customer messages saying they loved our work gives us the boost of energy to take one more step. It gives us the patience to ignore all the negativity and simply focus on what we need to do.– Neha Garg
Q. How did the beautiful logo of The Reading Owl Creations come into existence? Who is the artist behind it?– AnM
I actually do not know. I am not an artist. I cannot make art to save my life. So when we started the shop and needed a logo, I found and downloaded this beautifully illustrated reading owl from a website that offers royalty-free artwork and made it into the shop’s logo. I have wanted to change it since but customers love this watercolor owl so much, I could not find the heart to replace it. PS: If any of you finds the artist, please do let me know too..I would love to give the overdue credit.– Neha Garg
Q. How long does the process of making an item take? Given that almost all of the orders are personalized, I’m guessing it is a lot of work to keep track of?– AnM
It takes atleast 4-6 hours for one book sleeve. But it all depends on mum. If she is in her groove she would complete 4/5 in a day. Keeping track of personalization has now become a habit. Given I am a techie, I rely on excel sheets to keep track of what needs to go with each order and how.– AnM
Q. What does the business mean to you? What place does it hold in your life?– AnM
It means a lot to me. I have, at times, neglected my full-time job to work on ideas for Reading Owl Creations. It is special because it came like a ray of sunshine in difficult times.
My mom is a homemaker. She got married at 21 and had me, her first baby girl at 22. Her life has always revolved around us siblings and my dad. So when we moved to different cities for jobs and studies, we created a vacuum, one she found hard to fill. I would give her ideas to try new things, to exercise but it wasn’t until we started Reading Owl Creations that she found herself invested somewhere completely again.– Neha Garg
Q. I have almost all your fur book sleeves!(I say almost because I definitely want more if you’re planning on making them) So, Are you gonna make more fur book sleeves? (most important question, not to be missed🙈)– AnM
Fur book sleeve is one of our most popular products. We started with black & grey last year but added so many new ones and they were all a hit. So yes, when winter comes, you’ll see a flood of new fur colours. Any favourite colours you want us to look for?– Neha Garg
Any colour would become my favourite colour! They are my calling like I’ve told you a hundred times. There’s some unknown force attracting me towards them so, I wouldn’t mind any colour.– AnM
Q. What does Reading Owl have in store for us in the future?– AnM
We are working on multiple new fabric product ideas from stationary holders to wallets. Basically, more products for non-readers. I also experimented with creating my own reading journal and sticker making this year. So perhaps something on those lines too but it’s just an idea that I would love to spend more time on.– Neha Garg
Q. Delivering happiness aside, what are your other favourite past times?– AnM
Reading is one constant source of happiness in my life. But I always need something new to keep myself engaged. It has made me a jack of multiple things and perhaps master of none. I have tried origami, quilling, calligraphy, watercolor painting but I have stuck to nothing.– Neha Garg
Q. How do you make time for reading? How often do you read?– AnM
I try to read atleast a little every day, mostly when I am traveling or before I go to sleep. But I have stolen reading moments in office as well. If my current read is especially engrossing, I would download the book onto my laptop and read while pretending to work. But it’s a secret..so shh.– Neha Garg
Time for the bookish rapid fire!
The Da Vinci Code
Last book you rated a 5/5?
A Little Princess
All time favourite author?
All time favourite book?
Palace of Illusions!
This or that?
Fiction or Non-fiction
Fantasy or Romance
Paperbacks or hardcovers
Plain book-sleeves or fur book-sleeves (you definitely know my answer to this)
Series or standalones
Anushka, You have always been so supportive and helpful and like a happy cheerful ray of sunshine. Thank you! And all the best! – Neha Garg
Thank you Neha, for the kind words and for giving me this honour and taking time to answer the questions. I’ll be looking forward to more of the fur book sleeves. May you be blessed with all the happiness in the world.
You can get yourself a personalised handmade book sleeve by DM from her page : @readingowlcreations
Follow Neha and her bookish journey on her bookstagram page : @thereadingowl_
Follow her on facebook: @readingowlcreations
That’s it for this month. I’ll catch you on the 13th of next month with another amazing interview. Until then, be kind to one another and help out to those in need.