This 13-year-old has designed a doubled-sided mask for children and also started an online thrift store during the pandemic
Aahana Jain, a 13-year-old student of Vibgyor High in Mumbai, lives in a large residential complex where children of all ages come down every evening to play.
As the pandemic made wearing masks compulsory, Aahana observed that a lot of children were uncomfortable, unhappy, and unwilling to wear a mask.
“Since masks have now become an essential and compulsory accessory, I wanted to design one that would attract children just like toys did and so I came up with the idea of DOMA,” she says.
DOMA stands for double-sided masks.
Understanding what children want
When Aahana first presented her idea to her cohort teacher, Rasika, at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) that she was part of, she was extremely encouraging and gave her the go-ahead to convert this idea into reality.
“The first step towards launching DOMA was understanding the market and setting my target audience,” Rasika says.
She conducted various surveys to help understand the wants, expectations, and needs of her potential customers. The survey covered around 70 people ranging from teens to middle-aged parents who were the decision-makers for this product.
“The survey results helped me to come to conclusion with the following -there was a need for a double-sided mask, and as there weren’t too many players in the market offering this product, the buyers were willing to pay up to Rs 150 for a personalised double-sided mask. The quality of the mask was important, and finally, the mask should look attractive,” she adds.
Keeping these pointers in mind, Aahana started designing and making a prototype of the mask. After searching for quite a while, she found a safe, low-maintenance, attractive fabric to suit all her needs. She then partnered with a local tailor who helped her stitch sample masks.
Masks in a pouch
After getting the approval for her sample mask from her teacher, Aahana was all set to begin her entrepreneurial journey. To begin her sales, she decided to put up her product at a fair hosted in her building where she sold 13 masks.
Initially, Aahana’s business module consisted of only masks. However, upon seeing a great response for her product, she expanded her business to pouches as well.
At present, her business consists of a double-layered, cotton, reversible, personalised mask for kids aged between 2-10 years, packed in a 20*10 cm rectangular personalised pouch, which has a similar print like that of the mask. The pouch also contains a sanitiser and few activity-based stickers, keeping in mind the safety and entertainment of children.
“Post-production, I tied up with a few retail stores in the vicinity who agreed to keep my products in their stores. Until now I have sold about 50 kits, each priced at Rs 150, and 35 DOMA masks, each priced at Rs 65,” she says.
Currently, she is trying to source a manufacturer to help her make kits in bulk. She is also in the process of opening an online selling channel and tying up with more retail stores to sell her products. She is in talks with a few local schools and plans to partner with them to sell masks in bulk upon reopening.
To increase her customer base, Aahana is planning to partner with her uncle, who is in the textile business for the past 20 years.
The young entrepreneur says she has a simple revenue model and plans to potentially grow by 30 percent in the first year. She started her business with a profit margin of 20 percent with few customers. However, keeping in mind the growing demand for masks in the near future, she plans to further reduce her profit margin to 15 percent, thereby attracting more customers and increasing her sales in volume. By adopting this method of low margin but greater volume, she is confident of turning this model into a profitable one.
The thrift store idea
The ideas of entrepreneurship lit by YEA inspired Aahana to launch another venture: A thrift store named “Thrift.fit_co”. The idea of a thrift store is to sell preloved and unused clothing at a discounted price.
With over 600 followers on Instagram within 45 days of launch, Aahana believes millennials often opt for thrifting as it is way more pocket-friendly and a lot of trendy, vintage, aesthetic pieces can be found.
“My numerous learnings at YEA about market analysis and research, revenue model, business strategy, pricing, understanding the customer need and delivering the desired product helped me in capitalising this niche market, which is preferred by the younger generation. Until now, we have clocked Rs 12,000 in sales with a profit margin of roughly 40 percent,” she says.
For Aahana, entrepreneurship also comes with a cause. “These unprecedented times have brought about a lot of pain, grief, and misery among many. In order to give back to the society and as a responsible citizen, I have decided to donate 50 percent of profit to COVID-affected underprivileged families,” she adds.