Mumpreneur Amrita Vaswani wants to encourage ‘green parenting’ with eco-friendly diapersRekha Balakrishnan
BumChum offers eco-friendly, chemical-free baby products like hybrid diaper covers, T-shirts, muslin cloth nappies, and more.
At Colgate, she learned to sell a 60-cent toothpaste for six dollars and the importance of branding. At Microsoft, her role was to market the SQL server to a mum, and while at American Express, she launched the most expensive credit card in India, when all others in the market were free.
Amrita Vaswani seems to have been there, d done it all with a high-flying corporate career. The 37-year-old, however, is not resting on her achievements, but is raring to go.
She is the founder of BumChum, which offers eco-friendly, chemical-free baby care products like hybrid diaper covers, T-shirts, muslin cloth nappies, and more.
After spending considerable time in Australia and the US studying, as well as working in large corporate entities, Amrita returned to India with her husband.
Beginning of an entrepreneurial journey
Though she continued her corporate career, her heart was set on entrepreneurship.
“I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart and my first company was in the US called Crafted by Indians – where I sold exotic Indian crafts to boutique stores,” she recalls.
After moving back, Amrita started BumChum in 2013 to sell modern cloth diapers. She soon realised that new mothers were not always keen on washing, airing, soaking cloth diapers. The market for diapers, she realised, was huge and dominated by only one or two players with no incentive for product improvement.
So, in January 2017, she launched BumChum Diapers, hybrid cloth diapers that use disposable inserts which are chemical free and biodegradable, making it safe for baby and the environment.
Elaborating further, she says,
“BumChum is a hybrid diaper with a fashionable outer shell and a disposable bio-soaker. The cover is made of soft cotton and has a matching T-shirt to pair with, and the disposable pads are made of chemical- and fragrance-free compostable bamboo fibre.”
The bootstrapped company is based in Bengaluru. The diapers are manufactured in China, while the T-shirts are manufactured in Tirupur. She plans to manufacture the next batch of products in Bengaluru, using Indian fabrics like handloom, ikat, and chikankari. It has a team of three full-time and five part-time employees. Amrita handles a major part of operations.
Addressing ‘environmental’ and other issues
According to Amrita, normal disposable diapers take 500 years to decompose, and the carcinogenic chemicals used in them leads to several health issues in babies. “I educated myself about the ingredients of disposable diapers, and the effect they had on the sensitive skin of babies. I wanted to give mothers safe products and make diapering easier and affordable. I also saw the lack of proper sizing in disposable diapers, and often heard from friends how they would ask their family abroad to carry back diapers for them,” she informs.
The BumChum’s product line includes hybrid cloth diaper covers, bamboo disposable inserts, SafetyB silicone diaper fasteners, and organic newborn baby nappies.
BumChum products are targeted at young urban, educated mothers who are looking at chemical-free alternatives to raise their babies. These mothers are price conscious, yet careful about using quality products.
“I started selling online on marketplaces like Flipkart and Amazon. Soon, word got around and I was contacted by several distributors across India for sales in boutique stores. At that time, I also launched a Mompreneur programme which helped moms buy the product at a discount and make money reselling it in their network. We currently have about 100 mothers in our network and plan to focus on this channel for our growth in the future. We’re also working to increase penetration in niche pharmacies across India as well as hospital gift stores. The products are available on our official website as well.”
Facing the tough moments
Amrita admits: “Doing any business in India is challenging unless you have deep pockets or connections. People don’t make being a woman any easier because of the stereotypes associated with us. Sometimes, these things do get me down, at all other times, I like to play the woman card and get my way around.”
“The toughest has been to juggle work and home. Life work, small kids and aging parents all together can be challenging, and hence a good support system is a must for anyone to succeed,” she adds.
Ambitious plans for the future
From baby steps, Amrita plans to make a significant leap in the future. “We are looking to launch new line extensions to our current offering, introduce pant style diapers, and several other accessories like an all-natural diaper rash cream and diaper wash spray. We want to grow in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu with our mumpreneur network before we move to north India.”