How motherhood inspired Kinjal Popat to build affordable baby gear firm R for Rabbit out of Ahmedabad
There are several products segments in India, where the only options are either quality international brands which are exorbitantly priced or poorly manufactured local products; the baby gear segment with products like prams, strollers, car seats, baby cots and cradles is one of them. Alongside global brands like Fisher-Price or Chicco, there are just a couple of established Indian players like MeeMee and Lilliput. This is where Kinjal Popat saw a huge opportunity and started her baby gear brand R for Rabbit. Founded in July 2014, today the company has sales teams in 11 states and has also increased the product line from the initial 3 to 25. Till date, they have sold more than 10,000 units of their products.
A designer by qualification, 33-year-old Kinjal had pursued her design course from NIFD and had started an apparel boutique in Ahmedabad after her marriage. Since the boutique gave her the creative satisfaction of designing fashion wear along with commercial success, she was in a very happy place. She had to let it go two and a half years later during her pregnancy, however, as she wanted to take a break to care for her newborn. Like they say, often good things have to come to an end so that better things can begin. Kinjal’s own experience while shopping for products for her daughter Aarna, inspired her to start R for Rabbit with her husband Kunal. “Becoming a mother was when I realised how difficult it is to find high quality and affordable baby gear in India. There were international brands that were charging exorbitant prices, but hardly anyone was supplying premium products for the average income household,” says Kinjal.
A for Apple and R for Rabbit
The brand’s baby gear portfolio primarily consists of products carefully designed by Kinjal, keeping in mind the safety and comfort of their tiny and delicate end-users. Kinjal has even got one of her baby cot designs patented. “I take a lot of inspiration from my boutique days. My creativity lies in my product designs”, Kinjal says. “As the market for baby gear grows in India, so does R for Rabbit.”R for Rabbit products are sold online on their website as well as all the leading e-commerce portals along with a growing distribution network for off-line sales. The company currently employs 15 people in operations, finance, sales and marketing.
The dynamics of operations
The bulk of the operations are handled by Kinjal, while Kunal helps out in crafting sales and marketing strategies. Kinjal says, “Running a business is like nurturing a baby and spouses can make a good team. The only thing you have to take care of is to clearly demarcate the line between personal at home and professional at work.”
Kinjal travelled to the manufacturing units in China before finalising the same. After sharing her design with the factory, the quality of the sample product had to pass her inspection. Their suppliers were then chosen based on the production capacity as well as the quality control. “Safety is a MUST for all our products and if suppliers fail to get EN safety certification for our product, we don’t work with them,” clarifies Kinjal. Ongoing batches of production are constantly monitored for quality and defects.
By the Sabarmati
There are advantages as well as disadvantages to starting up in a city like Ahmedabad. “The biggest disadvantage is that though Ahmedabad has a big presence of manufacturing companies, it is not a city of startups. We face issues in acquiring the right talent. For example, digital marketing is a key driver at the moment and finding an experienced person in all areas of digital marketing is a challenge. Having said that, Ahmedabad is a great city to live in compared to traffic burdened cities like Mumbai, Bangalore or Delhi. You don’t spend much time in commuting and that time can be utilized for productive work. Also the cost of living is not as high as that in metro cities.”
The mompreneur mantra
Kinjal’s daughter Aarna is 5 years old and Kinjal tries her best to juggle quality time with her with the demands of work. Kinjal says,
Children at this age need a lot of time and attention, and as her mother I need to give her that. At the same time our business is growing quickly too, so it’s important that I remain focused. I am lucky to have an understanding family, and a good team to whom I can delegate since they are passionate like me.
I don’t have any guilt about being a working mom. You just have to do what feels right for you and your family. If you are happy and feel good about what you do, everything else just falls in place.
Kinjal also feels India needs more women entrepreneurs like in developed nations. Today’s society is much more conducive for starting up and she feels more women should take advantage of the same.