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BW Businessworld

The Purpose Mantra In D2C

India lacks a sustainable, affordable homegrown kids-wear brand, says celebrity-turned-entrepreneur Alia Bhatt as the motive behind founding Ed-a-Mamma

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Storytelling and being a part of the creative process are two areas of keen interest for actor Alia Bhatt. This, along with a “deep love for the environment”, formed the path for her to follow yet another pursuit, which was to be an entrepreneur. “My mindset has always been that of an entrepreneur and a creator. I want to create brands for our country and be among those who took a homegrown Indian brand to the global stage. That’s always been the endeavour,” she states in a conversation with BW Businessworld.

The manifestation of this quest was in the form of her direct-to-consumer (D2C) venture, Ed-a-Mamma. As the founder and investor of the company, Bhatt paid specific attention to the starting point and what the brand’s ethos and purpose should be. “For us to protect our planet in the future, we have to nurture very early in our children a love for nature. That’s where our ethos comes from,” she says.

Ed-a-Mamma recorded 10X growth within 10 months of its launch in 2020, becoming an Rs150 crore business. At that time it was a pure D2C ecommerce brand focussing on children’s clothing. The brand has now scaled up to also become a D2C retail brand present in 22 stores. It has also launched maternity and teenage wear in addition to children’s clothing, bringing different consumer segments into its fold.

The Market Gap

Recalling the brand’s journey so far, Bhatt says, “I didn’t want to build just a regular fashion-wear brand for girls or women my age. There were already many such brands. After conducting our research, we found that there was a market gap of sustainable, affordable Indian homegrown kids-wear brands.” 

Bhatt insists that not only were sustainable materials used but the brand follows sustainable practices, such as incorporating sustainable fabrics, soft fabrics and AZO-free dyes. Ed-a-Mamma claims to use 100 per cent Global Organic Textile Standard certified organic cotton. The production facility is SEDEX certified and even the buttons and trims that are used in the clothes are plastic and nickel-free.

“Our infant collections are even saliva tested because children put their clothes in their mouths. Every little detail shows a positive intention towards childcare and environment care,” she adds.

Ed-a-Mamma’s maternity wear was added to the portfolio as Bhatt felt a gap in this category as well. “I decided to go with it because I noticed the gap in my wardrobe when I was pregnant. It’s very difficult to find stylish maternity wear in India. When we launched it, in about three weeks, we sold 80 per cent of our inventory,” Bhatt informs. 

Sustainability, Affordability vs Fashion

Sustainable clothing is not considered affordable or wide-ranging in style due to the limitations that come along with sustainable practices. Elaborating on this, Bhatt says, “One of the major challenges we faced was the notion that sustainable clothing was not affordable and certain styles don’t fall into our practices. We might miss out on those styles and textures but we decided to accept that because, in the end, we are giving something much better, which is a conscious understanding of the planet we live in.”

This being said, Ed-a-Mamma looks to bring a certain attitude to its brands. It named its teenage collection Ed-heads for example, in a bid to be “younger and cooler” for the target audience, reflecting this attitude in the brand’s design, communication, and overall style. 

The 360-degree Brand

Alia Bhatt has high ambitions for Ed-a-Mamma, aspiring for it to be more than a clothing brand. In her words, she wants to create the Ed-a-Mamma world. “I dream that from the time a mother and a child wake up, they are using one Ed-a-Mamma product after another,” Bhatt states. 

Since educating children about the environment is on the company’s agenda, and storytelling is Bhatt’s passion, Ed-a-Mamma will also venture into stories and educative content that is entertaining. “Every story will have a certain message of kindness, hope and understanding. Hopefully, we can turn this into an animation series because children consume content visually,” Bhatt adds. 

The brand has already gone into the D2C retail space intending to connect with its consumers wherever they are. It aims to open more exclusive offline stores pan-India. 

Road Ahead

Bhatt is clear that for the moment the brand is not aiming to raise funds or get more investors. Instead, she believes that Ed-a-Mamma has space for a partner, whom she describes as someone who resonates with the brand ideology and understands the company’s expansion plans. As for Bhatt herself, she has chalked out a busy 2023 to keep the brand in its growth mode.