“You know what Suba…..We always say that India’s biggest strength is the workforce. However, if you dig deeper, you will realize that the skilled workforce pool is much smaller. It is not just about IT or other white-collar jobs but also in all other areas. When it comes to Tushions, ‘stitching’ for instance, even though we have tailors available at every nook and corner, there are a very few who can actually do a professional and consistent job.”
The very first words from Jaya Shukla, the founder of Tushions, made me straighten up as I was sipping coffee at her Home-office. I continued listening before shooting my questions.
Tushions is the fast-growing Cloth Diapering Retailer in India, founded in 2015. Started with retailing cloth diapers from the best brands across the world to create their own brand – Green Diapers. Jaya is an IIT-IIM graduate who founded Tushions after a decade in the corporate world. A mother of 2 beautiful boys aged 3 years and 1 month, she has now joined the bandwagon of a new breed of entrepreneurs – ‘The Mompreneur.’ An inspiring journey follows……
“To manufacture these diapers in India, we need a skilled workforce, whereas most of the tailors available do not have the desired finesse required by a branded product. So, I am currently spending a lot of time, working with the selected tailors to guide them on how to make these diapers, to meet world-class standards. Sometimes, it takes weeks before a worker is ready to make the actual diaper which can be sold.”
“Oh…weeks, Is it? Reminded of Colin Powel’s words, ‘Dream doesn’t become a reality through Magic, it takes sweat, determination and hard work.’……tell me Jaya, about your dream? Where and how did it start?” Jaya gave a warm smile when I asked her.
I could sense that her mind is travelling a few years down the memory lane.
“Immediately after my IIM, I happily joined the corporate world, was growing very well and making significant progress in many ways. I got married, had my first boy, worked until the day I delivered my son. My boy changed my life altogether. Our son was a frequent pooper, and prone to Eczema, I used to replace at least 12 disposable diapers a day. We even had a big dustbin dedicated for this. At the end of the third month, we had spent more than Rs.10,000 on the disposable diapers.
Everyone who visited us, especially the elders, recommended that we used nappies instead of disposable ones. I have a habit of not ignoring the suggestions, always try to reason out things. When I decided to understand the reason behind ‘why NO disposable diaper’ the information about the ‘landfill’ quite shocked me. Every time, when I was disposing the diaper on the dustbin, my guilt was going high up.
At the same time, changing a nappy every 15 minutes was turning about to be quite difficult; when a friend told me about ‘modern cloth diapers. I could not believe that such a product actually existed. I finally ordered one from the US, waited a month for it to reach here, tried it and Viola!
A moment of truth!” chuckled Jaya and I reciprocated too.
“We started with retailing the best cloth diaper brands from across the world and then graduated to creating our in brand – Green Diapers. We design our diapers keeping the Indian climate and preferences in mind. Some of our diapers prints are so popular, that customers buy baby clothes to match them and plan photo shoots around it.”
“Great, but you were working, right? How did you manage work as well Tushions? Not only Women, but many men also undergo the dilemma of how to work between a day job and the dream.”
I was very curious while asking this question.
“It was one highly challenging time for me Suba. The idea about Tushions happened when I was on maternity leave. Unlike many women struggling to Join work post maternity, I had a perfect support system at workplace and home. When we were discussing leaving the full-time cushy job and starting something on my own, that too, with some vague picture on how to go about it, all my well-wishers including my parents were concerned.
It was my Husband and Mother-in-Law who completely supported me to start it. Looking at my son and the guilt trip while changing his diaper every few hours pushed me harder to achieve my dream.”
“That’s one inspiring Journey Jaya……Entrepreneurship is not that easy, right? Especially, ‘you’ as a person, any specific challenge you would like to share with my audience?”
I sharpened the listening mode for new learnings.
“Oh yes, even though I love to be a part of gatherings, have a huge friends circle, being under the ‘limelight’ is one thing I am not very comfortable with. I am challenging my ‘mindset’ and coming out as the ‘face of Tushions.’
I realized that the brand is the embodiment of my values and beliefs. Recognizing and addressing such beliefs is a continuous process for me as well my brand’s growth.” smiled Jaya with determination.
Each one of has some ‘comfort zone’ to come out of in each phase. Isn’t it?
A cry from her newborn (1-month-old) as if acknowledging her words brought us back to reality. She excused herself.
Jaya returned after 20 minutes as I was munching on the discussion we had so far, used that time to collate information for the write-up.
“Tell me about the challenges you face with the product, customers and the business overall?”
“The primary challenge I face is creating awareness about the importance of using cloth diapers. It is beyond Business & Revenue growth for the brand. We have already polluted our beautiful earth, knowingly and unknowingly. I am happy to see the measures taken by the government and us human beings. But, still, the disposable diapers are the vast part of ‘landfills’ all over the world.
The cloth diapers are our ancient system, we were using ‘langots’ or ‘old saree or a dhoti’ as diapers, right? The disposable diapers signify 30% of non – biodegradable waste. The environment majorly is spoiled in the past 20 years when we started using the disposable ones. Even though life becomes more comfortable, each disposable diaper stays on the earth for 500 years. Yes, longer than plastic bags and products.”
I was quite shocked as well hearing this.
“I understand Jaya, mother in me has another question here. All these cloth diapers require a lot of effort to clean and maintain, right? I remember my son soaking it with a single poop or pee. Do you have a solution here?”
“Yes Suba, there is a huge difference between ‘Nappies’ and ‘Cloth diaper.’ One generation of parents is strongly brainwashed through various enticing advertisements that only ‘disposable diapers’ can make the babies sleep well. The modern cloth diapers have come a long way. The parents of today are so fortunate to have a fantastic alternative.
Tushions come with safe, convenient to use cloth diapers which can be put on babies for almost 12 hours. Moreover, our customers equally feel excited whenever we introduce a new product. We also make sure they look good, focus on bringing contemporary design in our products. I am more an ‘R&D’ ian than a Founder when it comes to our customers.”
The smile was indeed infectious, and I wished Tushions a great success before bidding adieu.
“Open Mind, Reasoning and the Right Questioning can do wonders in lives” – Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder, SLN Brand Studio
About the Interview: ‘Words of Wisdom’ Interview with Ms. Jaya Shukla is an initiative for ‘Women Contentment Program,’ a Mentoring program for women.
Ms. Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder, SLN Brand Studio conducted the interview. Women Contentment Program (WCP) focuses on elevating the lives of Women by helping them create a new career, get back to the career after a break, develop Emotional & Social intelligence and build a Personal Brand.
About the Company: SLN Brand Studio offers Consulting, Mentoring, CXO Resume Writing and Training Solutions. Aiming at building the personal brand for Individuals, Entrepreneurs, and Businesses, SLN Brand Studio has developed numerous customized solutions.