Behind The Scenes
Behind The Scenes with Hitha Palepu
"We talk a lot. We try to model a lot. So, the boys don't just see me doing everything. They see their father do the dishes just as much as I do. Doing the laundry as much as I do.. So they just grow up going oh I should do the dishes because Daddy does the dishes. I should do this because Daddy does this. That's what we do on a very regular scale.”
Hitha Palepu is on the go. She is a mother of two, an author, blogger, an investor, a voracious reader and an advocate. She also had both her sons in amazing FEMINIST T-shirts when we arrived that morning for our interview. Did we mention she is also the CEO of Rho Pharmaceuticals? Like we said, she’s on the go.
This entrepreneur, influencer, and chaos manager took time from her incredibly busy schedule to talk with us one crisp Fall morning, which, for us, was a perfect way to start the day. She kept it real, raw, and didn’t shy away from sharing the perfectly imperfect moments that come along with this whole parenting thing. If you haven’t shared a steamy cup of tea with Hitha Palepu, it’s time to add it to your bucket list.
IN THE BEGINNING..
So how did Hitha go from IT sales to full-scale entrepreneur and CEO?
“I was feeling unfulfilled and I knew I didn’t just want to get another sales job in the industry. At that time my father’s second company had really started to grow and he needed someone else to join. So I joined. Any time anybody asked me to do something, I just said yes, and as a result I got to learn a ton about manufacturing. I got to lead our business development operations. I put a project management system into place. I negotiated deals. And, I got to build a really exciting career—yes partly through nepotism—but also by being open to any experience.”
Hitha acknowledges she got a head start into adulthood that many others are not as fortunate to receive, which allowed her to explore career options.
“I think it’s important to acknowledge that I did have enough privilege to basically start my career with a really clean financial slate. I had nowhere to go but up because I didn’t have anything pulling me back. I wish and I hope people start talking about this more because it doesn’t take away from what you have accomplished on your own but it does acknowledge the fact that the starting line isn’t at the same place for everybody. I had a solid 20 second head start.”
While rising in the ranks on the business side of things, Hitha knew it was important to also nurture her creative side. This was a perspective her mother had always taught her to foster. So, she did what any ambitious, multi-faceted millennial would do—she started a blog.
Filled with all sorts of useful tips to help women live more efficient lives, Hitha’s tips on streamlined packing soon went viral (she also wrote a book called How to Pack: Travel Smart for Any Trip) and her base of loyal followers grew into the engaged community it is today.
These days, with two kids 4 and under, Hitha has transitioned to leveraging her Insta platform and a weekly newsletter to take some of the load off of a daily upload of articles. Fear not: the hit lists of books to read, epic ways to hack the fashion world, gift guides for the gods, a pulled back curtain into the world of Hitha and more continue to be plentiful.
Being a leader in the business world, Hitha has seen her fair-share of gender inequality in the workplace.
Hitha shares that even today, as a CEO of a pharmaceutical company, she will walk into a meeting and her male counterparts will assume she is the secretary.
“The number of times I’ve gone into a pitch meeting with people thinking I was the secretary and asking for coffee. It’s happened a lot. I give them their coffee and say I’m Hitha Palepu the CEO of Rho Pharmaceuticals and I’ll be walking you through the deck today.”
So how do we raise the next generation to do better? Hitha offers this quote from Gloria Steinham, We’ve been so focused on raising our daughters like our sons, that we forgot to raise our sons like our daughters.
When it comes to parenting her own boys, Hitha shares “We talk a lot. We try to model a lot. So, the boys don’t just see me doing everything. They see their father do the dishes just as much as I do. Doing the laundry as much as I do.. So they just grow up going oh I should do the dishes because Daddy does the dishes. I should do this because Daddy does this. That’s what we do on a very regular scale.”
SHOWING THEIR EMOTIONS
Hitha knew she wanted her sons to feel comfortable with their emotions, and has tried to demonstrate an openness with them, particularly With Rho, who is now 4.
“I try to make sure we talk about things like emotions and feelings and to give him a really safe space to feel his feelings and to know that it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be mad. How do we work through these things?”
“And I try to show him mommy is feeling really sad right now, so this is what I’m going to do. Do you want to come with me? I’m going to make you a cup of tea. Can I make you tea? Mommy wants to listen to this song. Do you want to curl up with me and listen to this song?”
Hitha advises that that world will teach them so many things, but that you should focus on the things that only you can give them.
“It’s like with you they are in a really comfortable place, a place to feel completely safe at home and with their emotions. I think I didn’t recognize how important that was until I was going through my own mental health journey.”
Hitha shares that while she seems to move confidently through work, new investments and projects, evolving into the role of parenting has been a completely different story.
“There is no guide book because every kid and every parent is so different. And that surrendering to the unknown, can be freeing but also it’s terrifying because to admit. ‘I don’t know what the hell I’m doing’ is not what we’ve been taught to embrace.”
BEING A SPOUSE
An ongoing question we receive has to do with taking time to focus on your relationship with your partner. Whenever we sit down with one of our boss-moms, we ask them how that fits into their daily juggling.
Hitha shares that she and her husband have a weekly meeting to go through their calendars and expenses to see what is upcoming. They also take it as an opportunity to share their love for one another.
“It’s the least romantic thing in the world, but it’s important. We do this marriage check-in. . . we actually have to do it every week because sometimes that’s the only time that we get to hear why each of us loves the other one.”
“There will come a time where we have more time to ourselves and our kids are older and they don’t want to hang out with us and we will be able to see all the shows we want and check out all the new restaurants and do all those things. It’s just not this season and that’s okay. ”
The advice Hitha shared on modeling emotional openness and equitable gender-roles left us ready to incorporate these into our own parenting styles, and my husband and I will definitely be trying her suggested weekly meetings.
Women like Hitha, who unapologetically share their struggles with parenthood and the emotional toll it can take on us as mothers, make us eternally grateful. She reminds us that perfection is a fantasy, and that it’s on all of us to breakdown the misperception that we collectively tap dance gracefully into the massive undertaking of parenthood.
For more Hitha Palepu in your life (yes, please), we highly suggest following her. She continues to share her unfiltered parenting experience with us while filling our cups with a daily dose of her musings and endless ideas on how to make life more connected, affordable and enriching. Spoiler alert: she found us a Boho nightgown we can wear all day long. Yep, that’s Hitha Palepu.