“Muche ho to Nathulal jaise, warna na ho.” We’ve tripped on this Amitabh Bachchan’s dialogue for years now. But some one took note and made it their business!Result: Parameshwara Pillai, Lovely, Dakoo Dholakia and Daroga Saab have all beaten Nathulal with their prolific ‘muchein’.
Welcome to the world of women where moustaches twisting is their business. No, we are not talking about feminist or women activists! Just two young ladies – Parul Kanodia and Uzma Ahmedi who celebrate the ‘desi mooch’ by selling the most quirky utility products.
Bangalore-based brand ‘Kya Cheez hai’ has a range of products - magnetic clips, book marks, paper clips, USBs, over door hooks, coasters, bags, cushion covers, cable twisters, bendable magnets, clothes hangers – all that a moustache can hold!
“We’ve all heard weird stories of someone lifting weights with his moustache and so on. So we thought why not think of innovative uses of moustaches and develop them into products for every day use. It adds fun to something as simple as cable twisters or clothes hangers,” laughs Parul. And so…Lovely, Dakoo Dholakia, Daroga Saab and Parameshwara Pillai were born under the ‘much nahi toh kuch nahi’ theme.
24-year old Parul recalls having spent many evenings observing the Bangalore store ‘Levitate’, dreaming about quirky products that she could develop. In her opinion, most stores that house funky products cater to a niche, not mass. “I always believed that one could popularize quirky characters by creating everyday utility products that go with the theme. And this led to the USP of our products,” she says with pride.
Having worked with two design studios for nearly four years, Parul felt it was time she started designing her own brand products. She’d met Uzma at one of the design studios she earlier worked at. Parul says, “Uzma has studied industrial design, she understands material, how it needs to be treated, etc. I called her in September last year and she was convinced with the idea. And we formed ‘Kya Cheez Hai.”
“The name of the company ‘Kya Cheez Hai’ came about because that is the expression I want to hear from people who see our products. Each of our products has an element of surprise like the USBs for instance, they can be used as bag accessories or even worn on the wrist,” shares Parul.
This year in February, they began with three products. Parul and Uzma clicked photographs of their products and mailed around 15 stores which they hoped would display their products. “We had researched on the stores that would mostly likely sell our products,” says Uzma. They received positive response.
In September Kya Cheez Hai launched a new theme ‘kabhi choti, kabhi bun’ with female characters Switty, Banno Dhanno, Firki Devii and Dhinka Chikamma. Now, with 11 products in their kitty, Kya Cheez Hai products are sold at 30 stores across India and 8 stores overseas. The products are priced reasonable between Rs 90 and Rs 580.
Kya Cheez Hai works with several vendors who manufacture their products. Depending on the demand of various products they re-order 2,000 to 4,000 units once in four months. For a new product launch they initially begin with 500 units to gauge the market response.
Says Uzma, “We intend to introduce a new character every 6 months and new product every 2- 3 months. However, we won’t discontinue with our old characters Lovely, Daroga Saab, Dakoo Dholakia and Parameshwara Pillai.”
The young entrepreneurs have had their set of challenges to overcome. “Vendors! We learned it the hard way - never pay a vendor too much advance, they tend to work slow. Pay them less or pay them nothing, and they complete the consignment on time,” smiles Parul. She adds at the start of the venture, they also had to deal with the issue of mass produced products not resembling the samples.Kya Cheez Hai will soon have an ecommerce store. Parul aspires to enter the home décor segment with quirky kitchen ware and storage items. “We are working on the idea, such products take time to develop. And we need investments for the larger play,” says Parul. Both Uzma and Paru have used their savings to fund the venture. In 2012 they will look at raising funds, given their innovative expansion plans.
For now, says Parul, “We are exploring what else the hair can do!”
Do check out http://www.kyacheezhai.com for further details!
- Aminah Sheikh