By Bayiravi Mani:
Being an entrepreneur is something that really excites me, and I made a foray into it with Bee The Baker, my first venture. My son Advait came along during my baking journey and being in a nuclear setup with no help, I needed something to keep him secure and happy so I could continue to work on my cakes without any disturbance. Babies cry for multiple reasons and I realised that sometimes all they want is to be held. But I needed my hands to work!
Lucky for me, when Advait was around a month old, I was introduced to the art of ‘babywearing’, which seemed like the perfect solution. I got myself a wrap and started “wearing” my son at home while working on my cakes. The joy I felt at being able to do something while having him close to me, sleeping away, was bliss! In fact, this quote by Gordon Neufeld – “A child may not know what direction he is going, but when he is attached to you, he doesn’t feel lost” – pretty much sums up what I feel about babywearing, which soon became a way of life for me.
While the concept has been around for eons, the ergonomic way of babywearing has resurfaced now with parents being extremely aware of various carrier styles available in the market. I also started trying out different carriers.
As Advait got older and the weather, hotter, I needed a style that was great for summer and which also allowed me to get my baby in and out, quicker. So, I tried my hand at a ‘ring sling’. As my son got heavier, we needed something double-shouldered, so we opted for a Mei Tai. Then we got even more curious and got ourselves a full buckle! As I experimented with different styles, I had an urge to make them too.
When I finished making the first two carriers, I dragged my husband and son to a nearby park to take some pictures to post online. Sceptical at first, my husband soon wanted to try it. That day was probably the last day I wore my son when we are together. Since then, it has always been him wearing our son – that’s how comfortable the carrier turned out to be. This made me realise that I had to build something that catered to the needs of all kinds of parents.
That’s how Kol Kol Baby Carrier was born. The name? Advait’s first words were “Kol Kol!”
I now make carriers keeping my little boy in mind. I am always on the lookout for fabric that is best suited for our weather conditions and for babies who are heavier. Also, fabric that looks unique. My biggest difficulty, though, is communicating in Hindi with the tailor in my unit. Being from Chennai, I still struggle with the language, despite having lived in Gurgaon for over five years now.
So, what started in December 2014 from home with a few clients can today boast of having sold over 250 carriers! I now have two full-time employees at the workshop, putting together the carriers, day in and day out.
I would attribute a lot of my growth to the social media channels I use. The various social media groups, that I am part of, have given my business the much-needed impetus and support. The only marketing which we have done is through Facebook ads, whenever we launch new designs. We have had a lot of traffic because of this, which is directed to our support group where they get to interact with existing customers. Kol Kol’s Facebook page has helped bridge the gap between the retailer and the customer; my customers can now chat with me and put a name and face to the brand that they know of.
Despite all the challenges, what keeps me going is the heartwarming stories I hear from customers about their babywearing journeys. I had a customer, recently thank me for giving him the ability to step out of the house along with his little one after six months and actually have a great time. We have parents wearing their baby when they go on treks, attend conferences, dinner parties, brunches, on sightseeing trips and doctors’ clinic visits. Not just parents but even aunts, uncles, and grandparents.
As my son grows up, I struggle with juggling my time between my workshop and him. But it is stories like these that keep me motivated to keep going and make those lovely carriers.