How this Vadodara-based brand is adding a zing to baby apparels with their desi themes

Founded by Ashini Shah and Rahil Shah, Zeezeezoo offers baby apparel by playing on Indian cultural ethos and pop culture themes.
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Ashini Shah had been living in the UK as a new mum when she saw quirky and fun outfits for children. She was also exposed to a market comprising multicultural parents who were raising their children as global citizens. 

This got her to ideate about entrepreneurial ideas, and inspired her to launch Vadodara-based D2C apparel brand Zeezeezooin 2016. The brand works with creative illustrators, vendors and manufacturers in India to introduce made-in-India apparels for babies and children up to the age of four.

Teaming up with her relative Rahil Shah, the duo aimed to tap into the growing Indian kids wear market, valued at $16.62 billion in FY20, and expected to reach $ 22.53 billion by FY26.

Bollywood themed onesies

Indian roots

For Ashini, who was born in India and raised in the US, seeing her friends starting a family, and frequent trips to India helped develop a strong bond with her Indian roots.

“Despite moving out of their countries, many people stay connected and keep in touch with their roots and culture, especially for the sake of their children. I also felt it was a good time to start something in the baby apparel space with a very strong Indian kind of ethos,” Ashini explains.

Come holiday season, brands and small business owners don their most creative hats to bring a variety of products to the market. And Zeezeezoo is no different. Today, it designs onesies, bibs, and baby T-shirts with nostalgic Bollywood dialogues and songs, and customises its designs around festive occasions like Diwali and Rakhi, among others. With natural cotton sourced from Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, the manufacturing is outsourced to select textile factories in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

The brand has over 200 designs as well as customised options priced between Rs 200 and Rs 899, and the products are available on its website, and Amazon. The brand is currently also in talks to launch on Ajio.

Exploring the market 

Bootstrapped so far, Ashini and Rahil made an initial investment of Rs 35 lakh in total from their savings. The founders claim the business is profitable, but decline to reveal revenue and sales number.

“We haven't gone out to seek funding yet because we wanted to take it at our own pace initially. While we would love to consider opportunities for strategic partnerships, we are not looking for private equity investment,” adds Ashini, who holds an MBA from Imperial College, London. 

When they launched, Zeezeezoo's founders had two clear target areas in mind - the domestic market, and the international market catering to the NRI and South Asian diaspora.

While the domestic market contributes to 60 percent of its revenue, international demands counted for about 40 percent. Prohibitive taxes in countries like Canada and the UK added to the challenges of growing the brand’s international business. 

In the meanwhile, the brand saw a huge draw from domestic customers, and Rahil says it also helped that the ecommerce sector was catching up in India at the time, with more people taking to the convenience of online shopping. The team quickly shifted their focus to the Indian market, and directed targeted marketing in India. Now, any demands from outside India only come organically through word-of-mouth.

While the brand counts Google ads and social media marketing as marketing strategies, it hopes to invest further in tapping the international market while also increasing its presence across ecommerce platforms within India.

The founders have also noticed a huge market opportunity in the gifting space as well. 

The pandemic growth 

While the pandemic has caused a general downturn in the economy, Zeezeezoo founders claim their business is among the few that have thrived despite all the odds. The pandemic has also made space for some topical line of clothing - “Social Distancing Queen,” says one t-shirt, while another has “Proof That Quarantine Wasn’t Always Boring,” emblazoned on it.

Products by Zeezeezoo

“They've done so well. We weren't sure whether to launch initially because the pandemic has obviously been a difficult time for people across the world, and especially in India. But you try to find the silver lining, and you realise that people are kind of stuck at home and looking for ways to make their lives a little bit brighter. So, it's been nice to offer a bit of comic relief,” she concludes. 

Edited by Anju Narayanan