With rising disposable income, joint families giving way to nuclear households, and a shift in patterns around child raising, the baby care market in India has seen a massive expansion in recent years. Add to this digitisation, which has only fueled a hunger for best-researched and tested products from not just in India, but around the world.
According to a report by Expert Market Research (EMR) Group, the baby care market in India is projected to reach Rs 25,345 crore by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 14.8 percent between 2021 and 2026.
Former management consultant turned entrepreneur Tejal Bajla scoured the globe for the best baby gear and infant care products when she was expecting her little one nine years ago. She noticed that the demand for international baby brands in India was either dominated by the gray market or fulfilled by relatives and friends who would pack their luggage with diapers, formula, and other baby goods.
Sensing a market opportunity here, Tejal got together with her friend Akshay Jalan and launched All Things Babya curated platform for mother and baby products from international and Indian brands, in 2019.
“We have brand alliance partnerships with international brands in India, which means that we’re their exclusive distributors. We started in 2019 and we had just two brand tie-ups–with Bambo Nature for diapers and Stokke, a furniture brand,” says Tejal in a conversation with HerStory.
After testing the waters for a couple of months, the team onboarded a few more international brands, which quickly gained traction, but very soon, COVID-19 hit.
“Travel bans and lockdowns cemented our belief that there is a real need for these products in the market,” says Tejal, who has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management from Kingston University, London.
She later pursued courses in early brain development at The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential (IAHP), Philadelphia, USA, a group of non-profit institutes dedicated to childhood development.
Before starting All Things Baby, Tejal and Akshay started Brainsmith, a company that develops innovative and creative toys and learning tools for children, in 2016.
Starting All Things Baby with an initial joint investment of Rs 5 crore, Tejal claims the company has seen consistent growth over the last three years.
She attributes her previous work experience across Unilever, Baccarose, ASK Wealth, and Morgan Stanley as learnings that helped with the company’s organic referrals, social media, and word-of-mouth marketing strategies.
During the two-year pandemic period, the platform rose from two to 22 brand partnerships, and since then, there has been no looking back, according to Tejal.
She adds that apart from the brand alliances, for which the company is an exclusive distributor, the platform has also onboarded Indian brands and other brands, taking the total number of baby care brands on the platform to 50 plus with over 1,500 SKUs.
Brands including BABYZEN, ezpz, Beaba, Ergobaby, Malabar Baby, and Brainsmith, among others, are found on the platform.
Predominantly popular in Tier I cities, the company has seen a lot of traction from Tier II cities as well.
“Most parents have become hugely aspirational, and I think the world has really shrunk. So yes, while we cater mostly to Tier I, we do see an increasing amount of traction for smaller ticket items in Tier II cities as well,” says Tejal.
According to her, the platform currently has no direct competition in India.
In an evolving market such as the baby care industry, consumers are more aware of what they need and conscious about how they consume it. It is one of the leading segments that is banking on content-driven commerce, where the right information has allowed consumers to independently move through their purchasing journey.
“I’m a huge believer in the whole content to commerce model. We don’t believe in just selling products. The approach here is two-fold–while we have products that match or fill in the gap for every life stage that a parent or a mother goes through, what we also try to do is handhold the mom. We have a baby crew on board, and our customer service specialists are trained in helping mothers make the right choice for their little ones,” Tejal remarks.
She adds, “Our retention rate is fantastic, and while we do have performance marketing etc., most of our referrals are word-of-mouth. What we want to do eventually is develop the content side, and build out an app, which would then help this retention piece more.”
According to Tejal, the platform has witnessed 100 percent year-on-year growth without any external debt or equity infusion. She says the net sales revenue for FY’22 was Rs 25 crore, and the platform’s current revenue run rate is Rs 3 crore a month. The 40-member team has an ambitious target of touching Rs 50 crore in FY’23.
Taking experiential shopping to the next level, Tejal has recently set up a nursery at the company’s headquarters in Bandra, Mumbai. Open every weekend for parents to touch and feel the products, the nursery is essentially a preface to a shop-in-shop store, which Tejal and Akshay plan to open in the next six months.
Advice to women entrepreneurs
Having left a stable corporate job to make the entrepreneurial leap, Tejal admits that the journey towards entrepreneurship isn’t always plain sailing. However, “the joy of building something just takes over all the other little nagging doubts.”
“I meet a lot of women entrepreneurs who are willing to start up, but there’s always this self-doubt. I always say – just dive in! A lot of time is wasted in just developing PowerPoint presentations, talking to too many people, and cycling the market, which is all great, but there will never be a perfect time to be ready.”
“I would also say do something that you really love or have skill sets in, and most importantly, get a co-founder with complementary skills, because that is life-changing,” concludes Tejal.