What an inspiration! How Anuradha Rao started Bumpadum, India's first eco-friendly cloth diaper company!
Read on to know more about her incredible story!
I still remember my husband and I were having a discussion one day on how much money we must have spent on our daughter’s diapers in the first year of her life. Yes, 30,000 rupees were gone on something that is just disposed off in the bin. But little did we realise at that time that the disposable diapers were a huge burden on the environment.
But there was someone who thought that something must be done about it. It was when Anuradha Rao became a mother herself she realised how much diaper waste a baby generates in a day. This is why she started searching for alternatives to disposable diapers, but there was not a single brand in India that made eco-friendly cloth diapers!
But instead of cribbing about it, she decided to do it herself and started Bumpadum to provide high-quality eco-friendly cloth diapers to the Urban Indian.
On the eve of International Women’s Day, theindusparent caught up with the mommy entrepreneur in a freewheeling conversation. Here’s her inspiring story:
On leaving her cushiony IBM job…
You don’t realise until you have a baby, how many diapers these tiny human beings go through in a day! For the first year of my daughter’s life, we used disposable diapers. I was astonished at how much diaper waste was being generated from our house. These diapers were on their way to a landfill that was already choking under too much garbage. And this was the story across urban India!
So I started searching for an alternative to disposable diapers. An alternative that would work with a urban lifestyle, yet not be so damaging to the earth. I came upon the idea of modern cloth diapers. I was excited to find this new option and wanted to try them.
To my dismay, I couldn’t find a single brand of modern cloth diapers made in India. There were either expensive American brands or cheap Chinese brands of cloth diapers available at various online retailers. It was then that I decided that I would fill the gap in between, and started Bumpadum to make high-quality affordable cloth diapers in India.
After completing my MBA from Yale University, I had gotten used to corporate life at IBM. It was a big step to start a business from scratch with no prior experience in manufacturing, but I’m very glad that I decided to take it!
On why she did not give up…
I strongly believe that cloth diapers are the best option for babies and the environment. I feel that families should be able to use cloth diapers irrespective of where they live or how much their income is. This belief coupled with the pride of being the first brand of cloth diapers to be manufactured in India keep me going even when things get difficult.
Why Bumpadum diapers are the best…
Historically, Indians have always tied a piece of cloth, or langots as they are known, around babies’ bottoms. But langots don’t keep babies dry, and a lot of babies wake up from sleep because they feel wetness on their skin. Also, langots or cloth nappies are not waterproof and can’t be used while stepping out of the house.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are disposable diapers which are made of completely synthetic materials and chemicals, but which are effective in keeping wetness away from the baby’s skin and preventing the bed/floor from getting soiled.
Bumpadum diapers bring together the best of disposable diapers and traditional cloth langots. Our diapers are made of cloth and are safe for the baby’s skin, yet keep the baby’s skin dry and are waterproof. After use, you can wash and reuse them, unlike disposable diapers which are thrown away.
Since each of our diapers lasts for 1-3 years, you also save 30-60% of what you would spend on disposable diapers. And last but not the least, our diapers come in the cutest prints, making gorgeous additions to your baby’s wardrobe! Gone are the days of boring white diapers!
On maintaining work-life balance…
It’s definitely been a challenge, some days more than others! Haha! But in all fairness, I’m very grateful to my family for helping me manage both my daughter and the company. My mother supports me extensively so that I need not choose between my daughter and work. My husband is a very hands-on dad, which goes a long way in ensuring that one of us is always with our daughter.
My father always taught me to do the right thing and not take shortcuts. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of this philosophy when it comes to taking decisions at work. It guides how I deal with every aspect of running the company, right from offering delightful customer service and ensuring high quality of fabric to make our products, to avoiding the use of any plastic in our packaging.
Growing up, my mother was the one who encouraged me to be bold and take initiative. In a way, you could say that I got the courage to start this venture because of all the encouragement she gave me through school and college years to grow and reach beyond my comfort level.
Anuradha’s message to other women who want to be entrepreneurs one day…
Find something that you are passionate about. Starting a business takes time and effort, so you need to find something that would justify the hours spent away from your little one.
Once you find that something, do your research on what already exists in the market. Take small steps to validate your idea and confirm that there is a demand for what you are offering. Try to put together a sample or minimum viable product with as few resources as possible and get it out there in customers’ hands. Improve your product iteratively with feedback from your initial users.
Finally, get a support system in place. This could mean family, friends or even other mompreneurs! Whatever business you start, you will undoubtedly have highs and lows, which will be easier to navigate with a solid support system.
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