‘Every child is precious’: why Dia Mirza supported this Mumbai-based children’s clothing brand
The only similarity between investor and actress Dia Mirza and Greendigo co-founder Meghna Kishore is that their two children were born prematurely. And both were aware of the pain a mother goes through when it comes to choosing the right clothes for a premature baby.
“Some of the garments contain synthetics that contain up to 8,000 chemicals!” Mirza tells Business Today.
“Every child is precious and equal, but when a baby is born prematurely, it needs special care.”
Well, it’s not hard to fathom why Mirza invested an undisclosed amount in the startup. The brand has been making natural and chemical-free clothes for babies for three years and is now ready to launch a special line of clothes for premature babies. According to the two women, this is the result of personal experience.
And rightly so. According to a Eurometer report, the Indian children’s clothing market is growing at an annual rate of 17.9 percent. According to Anand Ramanathan, Partner, Deloitte India, childrenswear also offers brands an opportunity to build an early connection that can generate long-term returns from a customer lifetime value perspective.
So the possibilities are enormous, as the numbers show. Greendigo was launched in 2019 with similar sensibilities in mind.
how it started
Meghna and her sister Barkha Das had well-paying and “stable” jobs in companies. However, Kishore’s young daughter had many skin problems. It was then that Meghna realized that there was a lack of quality clothing in the Indian market. Some of the clothes she bought for her daughter caused even more rashes, she recalls. When she went to Das with the dilemma, Das couldn’t help but agree.
This dilemma together with the vision to live consciously and sustainably brought them together and led to the creation of Greendigo. The baby clothes offered by Greendigo are said to be capsule wardrobe friendly (clothes that don’t go out of style). Greendigo claims to use 100 percent organic cotton sourced from farmers at the Chetna Foundation in Orissa. In addition, to ensure quality standards are met, the entire supply chain is audited by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), a body that carries out quality controls for organic textiles. All Greendigo products are GOTS certified.
Manufacturing is outsourced from units spread across different parts of the country. Additionally, the Mumbai-based company mainly sells through its website and e-commerce marketplaces, with Nykaa and FirstCry contributing the maximum to aggregate demand.
Sustainability – the USP of the start-up
Dia Mirza is a strong advocate for environmental protection and sustainability. She is UN Environment Ambassador and Secretary General of the United Nations for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Their focus on protecting the environment and promoting a sustainable way of life is reflected in their investment decisions. Aside from Greendigo, she has invested in D2C personal care brand Beco and toy maker Shumee. Both are active in the field of organic products. “I want to invest my time and money in companies that really care about the planet,” she says.
Mirza has her list of benchmarks that companies need to meet in order to get them on board. “For me, it is about thoroughly examining all aspects of an organization. But I have to admit that it’s not easy to run a clean business,” she says, adding that the companies she invests in need to be fundamentally aligned with the SDGs. “The SDG connection is a very big draw for me,” she admits.
And that’s why she fell in love with Greendigo and its co-founders. “They are a carbon neutral organization despite being an e-commerce company.”
She further adds that Kishore and Das have posted all the details about the product clearly and with total transparency on their website and she wants to empower them in the journey.
Launched before the pandemic, Greendigo survived one of the most turbulent times in history. Kishore says one of the reasons for this is not to go offline and just stay online. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been really good for e-commerce,” she jokes. She doesn’t reveal the sales figures, but adds that Greendigo’s percentage of repeat customers has also increased from 20 percent to 40 percent.
While the pandemic is now clearly in the rearview mirror, there’s still work to be done for this new-age start-up. Ramanathan lists some of the challenges facing this segment: “There are challenges in terms of retail productivity and marketing ROI. Discretionary spending in this category is influenced by certain unique characteristics of this segment, in which buyer (parent) and user (child) do not overlap, and the period of use is very short given the frequent growth spurts for the child, which leads to rapid redundancy of what is bought Clothing.”
When asked about avoiding redundancy, Kishore says, “Our one-piece suits come with foldable leg cuffs that can be adjusted during growth spurts. Our bodysuits and rompers feature adjustable snaps to comfortably fit growing babies.”
Going forward, Kishore plans to venture offline to align with its larger goal of becoming an omnichannel brand. The co-founder makes it clear that they will venture into any product category that can be made from natural materials.
“It would be arrogant to say that we are here to save the planet. The planet existed before us and will exist after us,” says Kishore.
Ramanathan says growth is difficult for a standalone company in this space, but the sisters are determined to do their part and do so with the utmost sincerity.