Fig-O-Honey cloth diapers offer an environment-friendly alternative to the typical commercial ones made of plastic.
Oftentimes, entrepreneurs are created accidentally when they face a problem and realise that they have stumbled upon a gap in the market.
Sneha Thakkar’s experience was similar when her second baby was born. It was after the waste segregation initiative started off in Bengaluru homes that Sneha became aware of the sheer quantity of non-bio-degradable waste generated in a house with a baby and felt she needed a better alternative. Sneha says, “With my older child, I ended up using popular brands of disposable diapers because I did not know any better. The second time around, I started checking out cloth diapers since I realised they would be more gentle on the baby’s skin, less expensive in the long run and wouldn’t lie around clogging landfills.”
The first cloth diapers that Sneha used for her baby were procured through her extended family in the US. She realised that there weren’t many players in this segment in India and the imported ones were exorbitant.
Sneha started researching the product in early 2016 and launched Fig-O-Honey in December 2016. Sneha, 37, says, “Fig-O-Honey cloth diapers are made of soft, stay-dry fabric on the inside, to keep the baby’s skin dry. It reduces the occurrence of rashes, which is triggered by the chemicals in disposable diapers .” The Fig-O-Honey diapers are pocket diapers with a waterproof outer layer in a bunch of attractive prints and colours and removable microfibre inserts. Microfibre is a synthetic material, so Sneha would like to offer natural fibre inserts, like cotton and bamboo, in the near future. Till now, the team avoided launching natural fibre inserts since it would create a cost barrier, which could discourage customers.
The one-size diapers can be adjusted to sizes XS to L, and can be adjusted to a growing baby, from a newborn to a toddler. The number of inserts can be increased to prevent leakage. Actually many DIY enthusiast parents make their own inserts from old t-shirts. Though parents can manage with four to six sets of the diapers, many purchase more numbers because of the attractive prints. Sneha says, “We have mothers buying more diapers to match with their child’s outfits. So we are seeing more repeat customers than we expected due to the fun element of the product.”
Along with being eco-friendly and safe on the skin, cloth diapers are much cheaper compared to the regular disposable ones. A disposable diaper costs Rs 11 on an average. A cloth diaper costs upto Rs 500, but can be used many times, and turns out to be cost-effective in the long run. A single baby can use around 4,000 diapers until she gets potty-trained. That is almost Rs 50,000 per baby. Since cloth diapers are reusable and a free size diaper can last a baby almost through her entire diaper-phase, parents need spend only one-fourth of that amount.
Quizzed about the effort to wash cloth diapers, Sneha says, “Yes, compared to disposable diapers require a little more effort. An initial rinse has to be done with a health faucet to remove the solids, if any, and then they can be washed in the washing machine with other clothes.” Parents will also have to carry a wet and dry bag when they venture out to store fresh and used inserts.
Right now, Sneha’s focus is on making cloth diapers mainstream.
The Fig-O-Honey website was launched in June 2017. In the last three months, over 600 diapers have been sold through the website. Orders have also come in through Facebook and Amazon. Surprisingly, there has been a lot of orders from Tier II and III towns. Sneha has a team of three that takes care of design, orders as well as shipping.
Sneha, an alumna of IIT- Bombay, worked as a data scientist for several years. Her husband is an entrepreneur himself and the couple loves to travel whenever they can find the time.
Sneha recalls how it was during a bad phase that she decided to start up. She says, “My father had been unwell and as I spent time with him while he was recuperating, I had time to think. I realised I wanted to do something more meaningful than being a part of the corporate drone life. Right now is the time to do what you want to! If you are determined, things will always work out.”