How this ex-Googler lost her six-year-old company and bounced back with a clothing line for kids

By Rekha Balakrishnan
February 23, 2022, Updated on : Fri Mar 04 2022 02:15:52 GMT+0000
How this ex-Googler lost her six-year-old company and bounced back with a clothing line for kids
Gunjan Jhunjhunwala is the founder of Sandbox Clothing, a kidswear brand that aims to help kids love themselves. She calls it the Self Love Revolution.
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Gunjan Jhunjunwala knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur while working at Google.


“Google provided great amenities, tremendous employee benefits, and a one of a kind work culture. While my peers were very happy, I knew I could not compromise my freedom of time. I realised that I would not be able to do a 9 to 5. So, I quit Google within two years and went to pursue an MBA from ISB Hyderabad to further my goal as an entrepreneur,” she says.


Born and raised in Shillong, Gunjan recalls fond memories that include winning a National Science Seminar and being summoned by Dr APJ Kalam for a personal meeting. Her father ran a store in Shillong to cater to the uniform needs of schools and she remembers spending a lot of time at the cash and sales counters. After completing Economics Honours from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi, she got placed at Google from campus.

Left with nothing

At ISB, Gunjan ideated a uniform clothing brand that would solve varied problems for the parents and schools.


“I started this along with my husband in Bengaluru in 2013. It was a massive success, but due to fallout in our marriage in 2019 and due to lack of proper paper work, I lost all rights in my six-year-old company. All I was left with was myself and a three-month-old baby,” she says.


She moved back to Shillong to process what had happened - meditated, practised yoga , read books, listened to life coaches, and searched the internet to seek answers.


“One day, as I was running in one of the most beautiful parks of Shillong, I finally got some insights. I suddenly had flashes of memories from my childhood and I realised how I hadn’t ever learnt to love myself just as I was. As an adult, this translated into having poor boundaries and never catering to my needs and desires. I was never my priority, lost myself and my self-worth. I wanted my daughter to love herself and that is how The Sandbox Clothing Co. was born,” she says.


She started The Sandbox Clothing Co. to address an emotional gap that she faced growing up and see many adults suffer from - Am I good enough? This led to the Self Love Revolution line of clothing for kids.

Gunjan explains, “Wearing what is true to us and not just wearing to fit in is an act of self love. Clothes after all are our second skin. However, I was finding it very difficult to find clothes that would meet expectations. So I started designing for her. My daughter loved them, felt super amazing, and would often check herself out in the mirror.”

Soon friends and family started placing requests for clothes. Gunjan decided to reach out to other mothers with whom the designs would resonate and spread the message of self love. Thus began – The Sandbox Clothing Co – a brand, a movement to empower our kids to love themselves, and accept them just how they are.

A strong message of self-love

gunjan

From the Self Love Revolution range

Gunjan also found that her daughter wanted to dress up like her.


“My focus was therefore to do good quality mini me collection as kids want to ape the fashion sense of their parents. From having the little bags as add on to a dress to the detachable flowers, I imbibed this concept in the designs,” she adds.


She chose Bengaluru as her city of operations. Its product categories include T-shirts, shorts, frocks, jumpsuits, jackets, sweatshirts, leggings, sweaters, stockings, and socks. It caters to both boys and girls collection between the age group of 0-14 years.


Besides ensuring that garments appeal to the kids and their mothers, the brand also passes a message via the collection.


“Messages ranging from “I love me” in socks to “Make yourself a Priority” can be found in our limited edition. We follow very stringent quality parameters. From the trims selected and the fabric to the packaging, every stage undergoes thorough QC and pilot sampling before putting the style in production. In our packages, we insert action-mation cards that can be put up in study desks, mirrors, etc., to serve as a reminder through the day. At other times, these can be found stitched along with the wash care labels,” Gunjan adds.


The brand targets mothers between the age group of 25-49 years who like to dress up their kids in smart, fashionable, and functional clothing.


The brand is available on top marketplaces like FirstCry, Hopscotch, Nykaa, Ajio B2B, Ajio B2C, Amazon, Flipkart, and Meesho, besides its very own B2B and B2C websites .


“The B2B range is offered with very less MOQ and flexibility of selecting the sizes they want rather than what we decided to make. We also send out samples to check for quality before placing bulk orders,” she says.


Gunjan says she does not believe in competition as a concept. “Sandbox is like my baby. Just as I would not compare my child to anyone, so would I not compare where Sandbox is versus another brand and this will let the true spirit of the brand emerge.”


Sandbox started with an initial investment of Rs 5 lakh borrowed from friends and family. The brand has grown by 3X in the last two years.

Gunjan elaborates, “A strong product line has been one of the biggest factors contributing to our growth. Initially, we started with the jackets category and today we are doing every category in the kidswear segment. I strongly believe that if we do not offer a good product then we will not be able to further our mission as well. Therefore, our focus has been delivering good quality functional clothing with trendy designs.”

Her plan is to add more categories, including pencil bags, water bottles, lunch boxes, backpacks, notebooks, and other back-to-school products with interesting tag lines. She is also working on an exclusive range on self-love message apparel.


Edited by Megha Reddy

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