A Tribute: To Meghana, From Megna
I remember pacing up and down my living room when I first spoke to Meghana in 2018. She was a second year engineering student who reached out much earlier than when we finally onboarded her. She was in Europe for a holiday and as we learnt more about her over the years – I find it symbolic that she came back from rich experiences of that travel and decided to join us.
For those who don’t know, today is Meghana Sridhar’s last day at Dream a Dozen after 3.5 years of working with us, initially along with college and eventually full-time. We use our names as an icebreaker with new clients, getting a little laughter into the conversation as we acknowledge that they’re speaking to two people with the same name. The best thing she ever said to me was, “Don’t worry Megna, now there are two of us to do everything.”
Meghana was given an assignment when she applied, we were looking for someone who could write copy for us and shortlisted two applicants. I liked both of them equally and didn’t know how to choose, so instead of rejecting one – I decided to onboard both. Now as a tiny home based business, it seems ridiculous to have two people to write captions for your posts – but I found them both smart and I’ve learnt over the years that dedicated people are so rare, that if you find them you better keep them.
Meghana was naïve then, as she still continues to be. Me and my dreamy self convinced her to come onboard with literally no job description – I called her role a “growth hacker” and told her to just trust me. She took a leap of faith; I don’t really know why but she did. It continues to be one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made.
In the early years, Aroma – our creative head worked with the “kids” as we often called them. My interaction was very limited. We were a couple of years out of college and they were in college, the truth was that we were all kids.
We moved the business out of home into a small 2bhk and they all came to celebrate this victory. I would tell my mom “the kids” are coming and we’d arrange for chips, snacks and sometimes even pizza. This started Meghana’s internal cult of “pineapple pizza” versus “normal pizza” in the group – the first time I realized the power of friendships within a team. She didn’t treat it like a formal workplace, she took the liberty of fighting with her boss over pineapple pizza and that brought smiles to all our faces. I was beginning to realize that she was a ray of sunshine wherever she went.
Meghana has always been trustworthy and approachable – she was the one person I could sit down with and admit that I feel lost with no judgements. She was so trustworthy that I had given her my bank passwords because she’d order cocoa powder through her amazon account. I don’t even remember why we had that arrangement. She even spoke to the Cadbury distributors in tamil to see if we could find a local vendor.
She’s always sending me posts of big famous women on Instagram, with a sincere belief that I will be there one day. I’ve never seen anyone except my own parents so invested in my growth. I remember asking her to come for ice-cream sometime before we moved to the new kitchen. She told me the power of personal branding and convinced me that I could do it. Right before the pandemic happened. Eventually, she was part of all our big milestones. It was her connection that got us a feature in YourStory and it was her comment that got us a feature in Humans of Bombay.
Eventually with Aroma’s encouragement, I started this blog. Meghana was always creative with her word-play, she started signing off her mails with the words, “yours dessertfully” and I quickly stole that signature and made it the name of my blog. She’s truly left her footprints everywhere. If I ever write a book, this name will be dedicated to her.
You’d often find her messages in my whatsapp saying, “Megna! Have you thought of your next blog post yet? What is the topic? I’ve made this list of 10 topics to choose from, I think you can write on that!” We have a group called “ideas”, because both of us are always on the lookout for inspiration for the business. At one point of time, it was called “to-dos” so I could organize my life and she’d be my accountability partner.
As I write this blog post, I glance out my window and see her working with the others. I smiled at her when she notices and she smiles back, not wondering why I’m smiling for no reason but simply reciprocating my gesture. She’s a happy puppy, sometimes I pat her on the head with love and one day she asked why I do that. I didn’t know what to say and Kritika quickly came to my rescue, explaining that they often do that to children. It’s true. Although this has no effect on how I see her work as a true professional, a part of me still feels like a proud family member when I think of her journey of growth.
When it comes to work, she will always go the extra mile. Once she came with me to the Bangalore literature festival because I was teaching kids in a free workshop how to frost cupcakes. The words “free” and “kids” in one sentence make it dangerous – a realization that I had after that experience. I sat in the middle of a large room, on the floor because I had no table. I was swamped, with what seemed like hundreds of children climbing on top of each other to get their hands on cupcakes. Forget about teaching, I couldn’t move past the words “sit down please.”
Meghana and Anirudh were right by my side, helping me control the crowd and documenting the whole thing in the process. I have pictures of that manic day like a lifetime memory because they showed up, they didn’t even have to – but they did.
After the second lockdown I decided to take up a reel challenge. It was totally out of my comfort zone so I told myself that I would buy an iPhone if I managed to post one reel everyday for 30 days. Every night post 12am, I would send Meghana my recordings – she’d be right there telling me it wasn’t stupid and to just upload it. Everyday we’d make tiny improvements, looking into the camera better, getting better lighting and even getting my father involved. As a generally camera-shy family, we couldn’t have done it without this cutie cheering us on.
When I finally bought the iPhone – nobody was prouder than Meghana. We took a reels class together, a food styling class and an iPhone photography class over the next few months. We learnt together and grew together, I felt like I wasn’t alone in the business.
Last year in September, she joined us full-time after graduating from college. She did much more than what her role called for and she enjoyed all of it. There was one particular corporate enquiry that came to her where the HR haggled with her disrespectfully and pushed her very hard, to finally never give the order. It really upset her and I could understand exactly why. It wasn’t work, it was personal – just as it was for me. But a few months after that she bagged Goldman Sachs as a client, one of our biggest victories yet.
One day, she told me – you know how I’m part of a running crew and there are book clubs? Why don’t we make a dessert club? And so “Dessert Circle” was born. A group with 100+ superfans of Dream a Dozen who became our brand ambassadors. She organized tastings, contests, quizzes, clubhouse chats and hosted them all. It was such great community marketing that nobody else in the industry had, it reminded me once again of the power of friendships.
I could fill many pages with little anecdotes of her work, sincerity, friendships and the gem of a person that she is. But I will leave you with one last one.
February of this year was one of the toughest months of my life on a personal front. I’ve been on a high since I started the business 4 years ago and this was a roadblock that threw me off the driver’s seat. Meghana was there and still is, every now and then popping into my office and checking how I’m doing.
On “rose day”, a little before valentine’s – she went and bought one rose for everyone in the office. No matter how much we all cringe by the cheesiness of “the season of love”, when someone shows the slightest act of kindness, we all smile. Meghana brought an unexpected smile on everyone’s face that day and I realized there’s so much more in life to be grateful for.
She told me last evening that she wanted a performance review of the last so many years. Here is a tribute to you Meghana Sridhar – because this isn’t just work, this is personal and you aren’t just an employee, you’re family. You’ll be missed is an understatement. The impact you’ve left during the association of 3.5 years with Dream a Dozen is nothing less than extraordinary.
When the university recommendation had an optional additional comment to include anything I wanted to add – I sincerely believed and wrote, “Meghana is a rare gem and your institution will be lucky to have her.”
I hope all your dreams come true, including the one to open Dream a Dozen in Paris together <3