Kids and baby brand Masala Baby, which entered the India market by going live on Firstcry today, aims to be an omni-channel brand and a one-stop shop for children’s apparel, accessories and more.
At a glance:
Startup: Masala Baby
Founder: Dipali Patwa
Year it was established: 2013
Sector: Kids retail
Based out of: New York
Funding: Seed funding
After working for over two decades with the likes of Fabindia, Museum of Modern Art New York, and brands like Martha Stewart, Ralph Lauren, and launching several other brands in the US, Dipali Patwa realised that she was missing a big part of what attracted her to design and craft.
She felt the market was in need of innovation and new ideas. And that is how she came up with the idea of Masala Baby, a lifestyle kids and baby brand that blends global cultural influences with a modern contemporary twist.
“The global feel of the brand is a direct result of our journeys from east to west. Our brand carries apparel and accessories from newborn to 12 years. Product categories include baby and children’s apparel, swim, resort, organic pyjamas, accessories, jewellery, and furnishings,” Dipali says.
Masala Baby, based out of New York City, US, is sold in close to 200 specialty boutiques across the US, in department stores like Nordstrom and on online stores like Amazon and Kidbox.
The brand recently tied up with Pune-based Firstcry to enter the Indian market.
Speaking of why she chose to tie up with Firstcry, Dipali says she has followed Firstcry’s journey in the baby and kids space in India, and has always appreciated their forward-thinking thought process in the category.
“As we enter the Indian market, we wanted to have a digital-first approach to address millennial moms. From that stand point, their platform is the most appropriate for our initial launch. We are strategically looking at other distribution channels for India for digital and brick and mortar experiences,” Dipali says.
Dipali says they values their supply chain and partnerships, and works with many women- led manufacturing units and artisan groups in India.
The plan is to strategically enter the soon-to-be $26 billion Indian children’s market with strong product-based curation and click-to-brick approach. Masala Baby’s goal is to be a truly omni-channel brand and a one-stop experience shop for children’s apparel, accessories and much more. The team wants to create a community of parents who appreciate and support good, value-based design, storytelling, and customer experience.
Masala Baby claims to have seen a double digit growth year-on-year in the US and believe there is tremendous potential in the Indian market.
“Furthermore, since our supply chain is based in India, it gives us a strong edge to enter the market quickly and efficiently. Our current average order size in the US is $125 for Direct to Consumer (D2C),” Dipali says.
She says with their diverse channels of distribution as well as strong hold on design, curation, and social engagement, the team hopes to create a platform for the brand that has a strong national presence in India and continued growth in the US.
Masala Baby was self-funded till 2016. Later the same year they raised seed funding from Ventureland Asia, a boutique VC firm from Mumbai, India.
The baby wear boom
According to a report by Grand View Research, globally the market size for baby products was at $62.71 billion two years back. It is growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.9 percent.
Interestingly, the market in India is believed to be booming. According to a survey conducted by Frank About Women, MullenLowe Lintas Group think-tank stated that Chinese and Indian mothers globally are the only ones willing to stretch their budget to buy branded products for their children.
In 2016, Mahindra Retail announced a tie-up with Carter’s Inc, a US-based children’s brand that entered India via BabyOye. Pantaloons Kids also launched recently. Apart from this these are several brands in the space, including Hopscotch, Baby Mubarak, and several others.
The Masala Baby team comprises young women from Venezuela, Nigeria, Mexico, US, India, and more. Dipali says this is the advantage of being in New York City where they can find a culturally diverse team and “learn to appreciate our differences and find commonalities that bring us closer together”.
In the future
“We also work on organic and artisanal initiatives as part of our capsule collections that we holistically design to create a sustainable long-term approach for our core categories and partnerships. We are inspired by travel, culture, people, architecture, traditions, and our signature aesthetic transcends trends. As we travel the globe, we are excited to present styles that crosses borers effortlessly,” says Dipali.
Children’s apparel has a few players that are thinking through their sourcing, supply chain, as well as building communities of parents. Masala Baby hopes to be an industry leader in that respect and engage parent communities in experiences that are aspirational.
“We are looking at partnering with like-minded strategic players in the retail space,” Dipali concludes.