Q: Namita, could you please tell us something about your childhood?
Ans. I am the second among four siblings, and I am extremely close to my family. My father was a visionary and an ambitious person. I owe this trait of mine to him. Since my younger days, I wanted to pursue architecture, but could not make up to it!
While in school, my father, started a business of baby products, but there occurred losses in our business and we had to face extreme financial adversities. Our whole family got united and tried to pitch in whatever way possible, my mother, who had always been a homemaker, too joined hands and provided her best support in the business. This was a great learning experience for me and we soon realized that we would have to earn and support each other. As we know, tough circumstances and hardships make one strong and thus, immediately after I completed my 12th grade, when I was just 17 years old, I started giving tuitions and also involved myself with my father’s business, where I was majorly involved with Packaging of the products. It seemed that inclination towards business was always there. Along with my graduation, I did DOEACC ‘A’ level (Advanced Diploma in Computer Applications).
My parents always taught us the importance of hardwork; honesty, self-respecting and that you should always take pride in earning your own money rather than asking from someone. During those adverse time as well, we never asked for money from anyone. The upbringing of my parents was such that, as a family, we always stand united.
Q: Did you continue working in your father’s enterprise after completing your studies?
Ans. No, as after heavy losses, we had to close down the business. Thus, after completing my studies, I worked with many companies including an IT company. In 2008, I was facing problem in my then company, mainly due to office politics. Despite working really hard, I was not being promoted which was really frustrating for me. So, I thought of quitting and joining anything that came my way. That’s how I entered the social sector, I got into CRY where I worked for one year and then joined Bharti Foundation and worked there for about 6 years. Even otherwise, I was always associated with social sector. I volunteered with many social organizations like Goonj, SOS, Helpage India, old age homes etc. I was always socially aware and realized that I get inner peace, when I am able to help someone.
Q: How was ‘Baby Essentials’ born?
Ans. When my daughter was 3 years old, me and my husband decided that one of us needed to quit full-time working and so, I decided to quit job. But, as I could not sit idle after working full time for 15 years, I decided to revive my father’s enterprise, ‘Babies Nircom’, with new product offerings. But my parents suggested that, I should go for a new company instead of reviving the old one, and that’s how Baby Essentials was founded. It was in February 2015, that I became the sole proprietor of ‘Baby Essentials’ and in August 2016, we registered it as a Private Limited company.
Q: How is ‘Baby Essentials’ different from other baby products’ companies?
Ans. Baby Essentials for the first time ever, offers unique and innovative range of neonatal (newborn) clothing, made from medically accepted, disposable and degradable fabric, namely “Néonatale Tissu” Fabric. Unlike cloth, “Néonatale Tissu” Fabric is an engineered fabric, having all the good properties of cloth such as stretchability, thermal insulation, etc. Another major differentiator is that all our products are sterilized and thus saves newborn and their mothers from infections.
Q: What are the products offered by Baby Essentials?
Ans. We have tried to interweave our products with the typical life cycle of a mother. When an expecting mother enters into the delivery room, there you need a delivery kit. Usually in certain hospitals, the staff members in the delivery room do not wear standardized uniform, everything comes from different vendors. I thought to have a ‘Delivery Kit’ that could serve the purpose of Doctor, Nurse, Expectant Mother and the Newborn. It is one stop solution for delivery needs.
Now as soon as the child is born, she needs clothes. Usually, In India, old worn out clothes are used for new born babies with the logic that they are soft but they usually have lint that lead to bacterial growth. First 28 days is neonatal period and the first 7 days are the most crucial days for the new born babies. And the first day, when baby comes out of safe womb environment to outer unsafe pollutant environment, is the most critical day for a baby. So, we made a “Néonatale Infection Guard Kit”, which takes care of the head to toe requirement of the Newborn.
We also have a product line called ‘Néonatale Essentials’. It includes absorbent nappies, carrying sheets, bibs, mittens, foot covers etc. It is useful in either of the two incidents, after the birth of the baby when it is taken to NICU, neonatal intensive care unit, or is handed over to the mother.
When the child gets discharged with mother, hospitals might give the mother a customized gift basket to make the parents feel happy and proud. For this, we have ‘Newborn Gift Basket’.
Q: What is the USP of your products?
Ans. The USP of our products is that everything is sterilized. We have not used any chemical or foreign elements, colours etc. We sterilize them through ETO after they get stitched, just like any other medical product. Then they are packed in peel-open pouch, a medical pouch. Sterility is maintained for 24 hours after opening the pouch. So, when your newborn wears these nappies, she is safe and won’t get infections. The fabric is also environment friendly due to being disposable and bio degradable properties.
Q: As you said, you want to bring down the child mortality rate in India, how is this possible with your product?
Ans. India is the biggest contributor to new born mortality rate. Globally 45% deaths (under the age of 5 years) are neonatal deaths. Although I am not claiming that Baby Essentials could resolve neonatal mortality to 100% because there are many other factors too affecting the child mortality rate but 36% is due to infection. Néonatale Tissu Fabric can at least address many types of external infections those are caused by rashes, wounds etc. by ensuring a safe-hygienic start for every newborn and the mother.
Our products are cost effective because I want them to reach the masses. For this, I want doctors to start recommending these products. In future, we would like this social innovation to reach out to the schemes like NHRM (National Rural Health Mission), ESI etc.
Q: Why do you believe in this cause?
Ans. In 2010, I met Amrendra and within some time we got married. He is one of the pillars of my life who gives unconditional support in my every endeavour. Both, I and my Husband believe in serving the less privileged and our ultimate aim is to do something for less privileged class of society to achieve an inner fulfilment. We have understood, for getting this fulfilment, we need to take bigger risks. Job cannot provide us with this fulfilment and thus we started this enterprise.
Q: What challenges are you facing?
Ans. The biggest challenge is, it needs a mindset change and the medical industry has to accept it. As per the typical Indian mindset, people are still not comfortable adopting things of one-time use. Most of the people here still don’t understand the concept of sterilization. We also can’t expect people in rural areas to buy it just to throw away after a day’s use. To reach out to the masses, the government needs to give it to the masses through government hospitals.
Q: Why do you expect hospitals to go for your Néonatale Tissu Fabric products?
Ans. Private hospitals can always accept it because the parents coming here are informed and aware and won’t mind spending a little extra for their newborn’s safety. The issue is that it needs to reach the lower most segments that need it the most, which is challenging. I want it to get accepted by the Private hospitals so that the product gets visibility and credibility.
Q: What are the other challenges that you face due to being a woman or an entrepreneur?
Ans. There are both negatives and positives. Sometimes, men do not find it comfortable talking to a woman and at other times they prefer connecting professionally with a woman only. So, I feel, if you are confident and have complete clarity and knowledge about your product as well as you do not under or overestimate yourself in comparison to the male professionals, you actually don’t face any problem.
I am a mother and home maker too, so it is really difficult to manage all these roles together, as I am left with very little time for myself, the only thing I can do is cut on my sleep and walks. I can’t cut down on my daughter’s time though she is a very considerate child and supports me a lot just like my husband and parents. Sometimes I get de-motivated as closures don’t happen but in such times my husband’s support and encouragement from my BNI colleagues keeps me motivated.
Q: When have you been most satisfied in life?
Ans. I can get satisfaction from little things like driving. Driving is liberating and it gives you confidence and satisfaction that nothing else can give you. In fact, driving was one of the triggers for me to start my business. I thought to myself, if I can drive, I can become entrepreneur too!
Q: You were recently felicitated with Karamveer Award, how do you feel about it?
Ans. Some Karamveer fellow nominated me for the award. I was surprised initially, and did not believe it. But yes, I felt very nice. This award has also increased my responsibility by 100 times. Now I cannot just take a step back.
Q: What’s that one habit of yours that has helped you become a success?
Ans. Integrity, honesty, perseverance.
People couldn’t break me away from my integrity. This was due to the hardships I endured in life. I never succumbed to peer pressure. The values given to us by our parents were strong enough to carry me through all that had happened, whether it was in job, relationships, during pregnancy anything.
Q: What advice will you give to other women?
Ans. Till the time you respect yourself, no one will respect you.
Q: One sentence/ quote or anything else that describes you the best?
Ans. Mother Teresa’s prayer, ‘Anyway’ describes me the best. I’ll recite it for the readers, it is really inspiring.
“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centred. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
One more statement of Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the Change you want to see in the World” defines my attitude well. These two define me perfectly.
Namita’s story is truly inspiring. It brings out the courage and determination that an avant-garde entrepreneur like her displays despite innumerable challenges meted out in the way that hasn’t too many people to walk with.
If SHE can, YOU can too!