“I always loved designing apparel for kids."
Classmates-turned-entrepreneurs Vandana Kalagara and Smruti Rao are taking India’s growing childrenswear market by storm.
Vandana Kalagara started Keebee Organics in Hyderabad in 2016. Her former classmate, Smruti Rao, joined her in 2018.
Now, they are business partners and their manufacturing enterprise makes and sells sustainable childrenswear through their own website.
They also sell their products through online channels such as Myntra and Nestery.
Keebee Organics offers casual wear, ethnic wear, undergarments and other childrenswear products for both boys and girls up to the age of ten.
Prices range from £3 to £40.
Speaking to SMBStory, Vandana said that, since launching their first product in 2017, they are on target to see annual revenue of £72,500 in 2021.
Vandana initially worked in design before taking a break to raise her daughter, which first inspired her to create a childrenswear brand. She said:
“I always loved designing apparel for kids.
“On my break, I was doing freelance work. When my daughter began nursery school, I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up.
“Her response shocked me – she told me she wanted to stay at home like her grandmother and me.”
Inspired, Vandana did some research and found a gap in the market for organic clothes for children. Therefore, she started Keebee Organics in 2016.
Smruti Rao joined as a co-founder in 2018. They took out a £14,000 business loan, as well as investing their own money into the brand.
Based in Hyderabad, Keebee Organics manufactures its products in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, in Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)-certified units.
Smruti Rao oversees the manufacturing side of the company.
They are currently working on securing a GOTS certification for their newest manufacturing unit based in Hyderabad.
According to Vandana Kalagara, starting Keebee Organics as a first-time entrepreneur was not easy.
She said she faced challenges of finding organic suppliers and securing GOTS-certified units all by herself.
To achieve this, she sent hundreds of emails to vendors and manufacturers across India.
She said: “Not many GOTS manufacturers did domestic orders as they preferred to export their products.
“Even among those who undertook domestic orders, few worked with quantities as small as ours.
“I eventually got in touch with Cotton Eco Fashion, a readymade garments manufacturing unit in Gujarat.
“The people there were helpful and began production for us. We still work with them as they understand our business.”
According to ResearchAndMarkets, the Indian childrenswear market was valued at £11.7 billion in 2020.
This number is also expected to reach almost £16 billion by 2026.
Therefore, Vandana and Smruti acknowledge their competition and are ensuring their brand stands out in such a growing market.
“For onesies and nightwear, we have Greendigo as our competitor. For jhablas, we have Love the World Today as a competition.
“We regularly talk to our customers and use the inputs to improve our product lines.”
“This helps us stay ahead of the competition.”
Like many other fashion retailers, Keebee Organics faced production challenges due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
However, Vandana and Smruti are optimistic about the future and want to expand Keebee’s product line to give customers a wider choice of organic clothing options.
As well as this, the pair want to take their brand international and are planning to expand into offline stores when the pandemic subsides.