Parents always want the best for their child – be it the food they eat, the clothes they wear, or the toys they play with; and more so with babies. With growing exposure and awareness now, it is no surprise that new parents are looking to go the organic way – and here, they have help from The Baby Atelier (TBA).
Founded by Payal Karumbia in 2016, the baby products’ company makes children’s bedding from organic fibre that is eco-friendly, chemical-free, and hypoallergenic.
Entrepreneurship in her DNA
Turning to entrepreneurship was almost the next step for Payal, for she comes from a business family, which has been in the furniture and design business for over 35 years.
“Our company - CC India - is the one that pioneered the concept of European modular home furniture in the country with the brand Veneta Cucine. Since then, we have gone on to work with many different brands in Europe. So I basically grew up surrounded by Europe’s design aesthetic,” says Payal.
After moving back to India in 2012 from the US, Payal began working at the family business in the kids furniture section - Villa Veneta Kids - and noticed there “were almost no brands in the country offering organic, simple, clean and on-trend furnishings for children,” she says. Payal adds that most products available at the time were laden with all sorts of dyes and chemicals.
“I decided to test out the market with a passion project and started gifting locally- manufactured organic linen hampers to every finalised kids’ room. I also gifted my products to a lot of friends and family. Soon, people were asking how they could purchase the products,” Payal recalls.
In 2016, she decided to make things official, and launched The Baby Atelier offering bed and bath products that are organic, pesticide-free, and hypoallergenic. The product catalogue included fitted crib sheets, bibs, pillow covers, hooded towels, blankets, washcloths, and bed sheets, among others.
Most of the company’s target audience is in the age group of 28 to 40 years, and hail from Tier I and Tier II cities. Payal says they are also well travelled and informed about the latest trends. “This target has a strong preference towards minimalistic design and non-theme-based furniture. This is a huge shift from the previous generation, which was extremely theme and character focused,” says Payal.
Local material, local tailors
She adds, the company sources organic fabric from several different locations across South India, including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala. It also hires local tailors so as to generate employment. “This allows us to give back to our community, while ensuring that we are diversifying our risk by not depending only on a fixed team.”
How organic is organic?
The Baby Atelier claims it sources cotton only from Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)-certified vendors.
“We work with very specific partners. Even when we partner with manufacturing facilities, we check their time sheets, because we don’t want to work with someone who is over worked, and we ensure that the manufacturing facilities use pesticide-free cleaning substances,” says Payal.
The company ensures pesticide-free cleaning and finishing procedure for all its products. “Our products are made with yarns, which does not need any chemical treatment, so our products automatically become hypoallergenic,” she adds. Payal also says the company does not starch any fabric to ensure it is chemical-free and organic.
Some of TBA’s competitors are Little West Street, Masilo, Rabitat, and Mothercare. “We bring great quality, clean, and on-trend products at very affordable price points. This sets us apart from our peers in the market,” says Payal.
TBA products are ranged between Rs 550 and Rs 1,800. “We also have gift boxes starting from Rs 2,000,” she adds. The founder says the company allows people to buy single pieces – one pillow cover or a single towel - whereas most competitors only sell products in sets.
Business and plans
The company retails its products through various online portals including Myntra, Firstcry, Jabong, and Amazon, as well as through its own website. The company also retails in the Middle East, US, UK, Australia and Europe.
While the founder did not share the investments in the business, she said the company had been seeing 40 percent year-on-year revenue growth. Payal says the company expects the growth rate to be 50 percent in FY2020.
The Baby Atelier has also expanded its product offerings to bath linen, nightwear, bibs, nursing pillows and sensory toys and puzzles. Most recently, the three-year-old startup launched its interior services business to offer home design services catering to children up to 15 years of age.
For its décor business, the company uses silver particles in its products like wall paint, and uses a particular wall paint that does not require chemical thinners. Payal points out that silver has been used as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent for generations. “We also source all our products from certified ethical factories.”
Besides this, the company ensures the décor is child-friendly without sharp edges or corners, has suitable lighting, and furnishings are completely organic.
About her future plans, Payal says the brand has grown organically, and done almost no marketing or other promotions. “So this year, we plan to spread the word,” she says.