This Mommy Founder Brings To Life Sustainable Hair Accessories Brand For Young Girls
Inspired by her two daughters, Baroda’s mommy founder Meghna Gandhi shares the journey of her bran Ribbon Candy Kids – a hair accessory brand for girls in India.
A business is ideated
This ex-investment banker, after getting married in 2006, moved back to Baroda, where she was born and brought up. She joined her husband’s business and took up studying CFA, pre-pregnancy, as a hobby. However, she yearned for the delight of a happy, tangible outcome after a day of hard work. Coinciding, her other thought, “Looking at my daughters, I always felt that there is a need for better hair bows and pins in the market.”
This lit her desire to start a brand of her own, with products that would definitely be of use to young girls.
Come 2011, ribbons of the finest quality were imported from USA to ensure products of the finest quality. From the basement, Meghna with a handful workers started making hair accessories like hairpins, bows, and clips for girls of age 0 – 12 years. With her daughters by her side as critics, the mommy founder herself check each finished product’s quality, since they were all handmade.
Brand comes to life
They started out by participating in exhibitions in Baroda, which proved to be very successful. In confidence to step in the ‘bigger’ cities, such being Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Ahmedabad, Ribbon Candy exhibited its products in various exhibitions held across these places.
Currently, the products are sold through their website and e-other commerce portals like First Cry, Hopscotch, and Myntra. As well, they own a retail outlet in Baroda.
More than 1000 SKUs are offered by Ribbon Candy, out of which 600 are hair accessories and other funky jewellery. One of their fast moving products are hairpins, selling approximately 1500 of these in a month. But their star product is Curly Korker, which, as claimed by Meghna, is not produced by any other Indian brand. The product prices range between Rs.100 – Rs.350.
Expanding her creative base, in 2018, Meghna started manufacturing kids’ apparel made of pure cotton, and unique prints that are purchased from designers.
“If I’m not able to find products up to my expectations for my daughters, I intend to make it by myself (laughs). Since I have the skill-set to execute this, and the scrap material that becomes available from the clothes is used for making complimentary hair accessories, it allows me to build a sustainable clothing and accessories brand with an ideal use of cloth waste.”
Team members, the valuable contributors
Starting with two workers; Meghna’s maid and her driver’s wife, the venture, now, has 20 women working for it. To induct them as work force, they are taught the necessary hand work, then provided with a material kit that they take back home. The ladies, then, make the required products and supply Ribbon Candy with the finished items. For them, payment structure is based on the number of pieces made per day.
Seeing a working woman to make a livelihood for herself serves pure satisfaction to Meghna. She shares,
“These women come from a backward class and intend to earn little money. It’s a big deal for them to be a valuable contributor to their family. When some of these ladies say that they got a phone for themselves, or a cycle for their children, or enrolling their child in some computer class, all from their hard-earned money, I feel extremely happy from them!”
Diwali is one such festival that urges Meghna to push her limits, no matter what.
“When my workers get their Diwali bonus, their show of respect for me is overwhelming. I feel, in those moments, that I cannot give up under any circumstance as their livelihood depends on me. It’s a mixed feeling of embarrassment and responsibility as they have a lot of expectations from me.”
Lockdown: The hindrance
Ribbon Candy’s offline exhibitions were an instant money-maker for the brand, contributing 80% to the total revenue. But that was put to a stop when Covid-19, and subsequently the lockdown hit the nation. With courier companies shut as well, the brand couldn’t sell during the months of March and April 2020. However, they saw a shift in consumer behaviour during this pandemic for online purchases. Grabbing the opportunity, they started manufacturing masks and other fabric accessories to maintain their business, and visibility in the market.
Journey of the Mommy founder
The brand, from scratch, grew into a successful business for which Meghna credits her spouse who stood by her through thick and thin. The mother of two, being an entrepreneur, often faced challenges and was taken for granted. She shares,
“During the initial days of business I travelled across cities wearing sports shoes and a backpack full of all my products, in a bid to approach exhibitors. People, more often than not, judged my capabilities as a business woman. But now they have started to respect me, and I believe that I have earned it!”
Dedicated as she is, this mommy founder balances her professional and personal life with some good time management. She sets aside five hours of work time in a day, mostly during noon. This allows her to be around her daughters even while she is busy with her venture.
She signs off with an advice for fellow mothers,
“Don’t be hard on our self and plan for achievable goals, as we women have a child or children and a household to look after, as well. So, set milestones as per your own situation and lifestyle, and don’t compare it with others.”