Mi Dulce An'ya lines up organic cotton clothing for the newborns
India continues to be the world’s largest producer of organic cotton, accounting for two-third of the global organic cotton production. High cost of certification is causing the brands to part ways from the organic variety. Organic clothing is not just for the high-end clientèle, but for everyone who identifies the need of sustainability, and acknowledges the fact that eco-friendly clothing is best for the skin. Particularly for newborns, it cuts down on their exposure to toxins. Realising the perks of organic cotton clothing for both infants and the environment, Neha Garodia aims to provide the same through her brand Mi Dulce An’ya.
She was born in India but at the age of three, she moved to London. After a few years there, she moved to Singapore. She graduated from the London School of Economics and then worked with McKinsey & Co. and Procter & Gamble. After marriage, she came back to Kolkata.
“I was completely bewildered by the distinctly different lifestyle and the lack of work opportunities for people like me. I visited India every year to meet my relatives, but that was mostly to Mumbai. And even then, our relatives would show us the best things to see, eat,but still there was a complete disconnect from everyday life.”
For one year, she tried adjusting with the way things operated in India and worked as a portfolio manager until she had her kids, Ansh and Manya. During this period, she wanted to ensure she was doing the right thing while raising her son. Acknowledging the fact that organic cotton was not only beneficial for the soil, farmers, and the environment, it was much softer and better for children’s delicate skin too. So she started buying organic cotton clothes for her son. But this proved impossible in India with the delivery system that was prevalent here. So she mostly relied on her mother to buy almost everything overseas.
“I had Manya exactly 18 months after Ansh, and by then I knew this was a wonderful opportunity for me! I also had an opportunity to see and appreciate the wondrous talents of artisans in Bengal. So I combined the two, wanting to create a label exclusively manufacturing handcrafted, organic cotton clothes for babies and children.”
Mi Dulce An’ya
Mi Dulce An’ya is Spanish for “My Sweet Ansh (an) and Manya (ya).” They manufacture handcrafted clothes and accessories for babies and children up to eight years by using only 100% GOTS Certified Organic cotton. They offer a wide variety of products ranging from elaborate gift boxes and layette to day wear, night wear, hair accessories, and handmade infant espadrilles.
“I think working at great organisations, like McKinsey, really helped me develop my leadership skills. But there was a complete lack of professionalism in most of the smaller vendors we begin working with. So my initial skill set did not really prepare me well. I think the biggest and most important characteristic that is essential for entrepreneurship in India is adaptability! If someone is actually doing his/her job properly,
it’s a minor miracle worth celebrating!”Owing to her parenting period, which has made her a lot more patient, she explains what needs to be done, coaches, and supervises and then she lets her team do the work. She does random checks of everything: from the oil in the machines to the cleanliness of the QC area to the packaging of the orders.
One of the biggest hurdles she faced was finding certified suppliers. Either they lied about it being organic or they were focussed on massive export orders and did not have time for startups like hers. She feels that the organic cotton, which is still at the nascent stages in India, has a tremendous potential to grow.
“There are a lot of new players coming in, both into organic cotton and also into kids wear, overall, which is great!”
The response so far
With the first year being the steepest learning curve, she began to figure out ways to increase the growth. Soon she started exporting and selling on e-commerce platform and through partnerships with high-end boutiques, which has led to the expansion of the brand. Mi Dulce An’ya is like her third child and she aims to develop it into a meaningful and trustworthy international brand.
“My husband is the most supportive spouse ever! And he has done more hand holding than I could ever hope for. The rest of my family and friends have of course been extremely helpful and my children have been most tolerant of their working mum, but I would say most of the credit goes to my husband, Adarsh. Behind every successful working mother is her husband! It’s true!”