Entrepreneur Name: Chinmayie Bhat
Business Name: Soul Slings
Welcome to #eoindia #startupstories Episode 28.
Each week we will ask an Indian entrepreneur 11 questions so that we can all be inspired by their stories.
There are so many great opportunities for new Entrepreneurs in India, it really is exciting times to be in business and one of the reasons we exist is to make the next generation aware of the possibilities for those who are willing to #startup. Today we visit a new sector for eoindia and that is Babywear or “Babywearing” to be exact!
We talk to the founder of Soul, Chinmayie Bhat (@chinmayie_bhat) about her journey in starting Soul, – India’s largest babywearing brand. Why babywearing and not babywear? Because Soul specialise in the production of baby carriers – slings and harnesses that allow a mother or father to carry their baby close while doing other activities. A popular concept to the west, but a relatively new concept for India.
Soul is We are a family-run baby carrier company from Bangalore, India. They work hard to support local and fair-trade practices, small-scale artisans and weavers by working closely with cooperatives and non-profit organizations. When Chinmayie is not on the road visiting weavers, she is in the Soul studio working alongside the Soul tailors. Every Soul carrier is handcrafted in-house by their skilled employees who have many years of experience. As Chinmayie states “We value every member of our team and believe that employees produce the most beautiful and safe carriers when working in a safe, happy and comfortable work environment”
1) How did you get your idea for this business?
As a parent I loved the idea of ‘babywearing’, using carriers to keep my little ones physically close to me. The first ever carrier I bought was thick, padded and my baby was sweaty and uncomfortable. However, for my second child I bought a ring sling and fell in love with it. My newborn son was comfortably napping on me while I read books or went out for walks with my 5-year old daughter. Every time he was crying, all I needed to do was to wear him in my ring sling and he would settle down in minutes. I never stepped out of the house without one. I remembered my life when my daughter was a newborn and realized that with a good ring sling those days could have been a lot less stressful for both of us.
That’s when I decided to start Soul. I knew I could make a difference in every parent’s life by introducing them to safe and affordable babywearing. As my son and I explored different styles of babywearing, Soul grew and increased its options for babywearers everywhere. When we started out I searched in vain for baby carriers which were locally made, well-constructed and elegant. So I decided to do it myself.”
2) Why is “now” a good time for this idea to exist?
As the traditional family structures shifts around the world, more and more nuclear families are emerging where parents handle child care from the start by themselves with minimal to no outside help. Baby carriers can be an invaluable way to bond with the new baby and also carry on with their usual lifestyles. It’s also a great way to keep active toddlers safe in crowded public places!
3) What was the reaction from your family when you first decided to become an entrepreneur?
I first discussed my idea with my husband and he was very supportive of it. I wanted to start small and I needed help in aspects that I wasn’t too comfortable dealing with. He was more than happy to help me with it. My whole family has been very enthusiastic and supportive of all my ideas including this one.
4) What was your biggest failure in business and what did you learn from it?
I consider everything in life a learning experience which is why nothing is really a failure. I really haven’t had any such experiences to talk about actually. Fortunately we have been successful in riding the wave so far.
5) What is your biggest obstacle in the next 12 months and how will you overcome it?
I wouldn’t say obstacle but I think strengthening our team to match our growth will be our biggest challenge in the coming months. We are already working on it by adding more and more skilled, passionate and hard-working people to our company.
6) What habits contribute to your success?
HARD WORK, STAYING TRUE TO MY HEART, PASSION AND DEDICATION.
7) If you had the opportunity to start this business again what would you do differently?
Nothing! I’m pretty happy with how we’ve done so far and we are here today because of the way we did what we did. So I’m happy to with how it’s been.
8) What is your favourite inspirational quote?
Enjoy what you do every single day. I strive to be happy as that’s the most important thing in life to me. If something doesn’t make me happy, I will not do it, and in turn I actively look for things that bring me joy.
9) Where do you find inspiration?
We are hugely inspired by the rich textile history of India. All Soul fabrics are carefully developed by us to ensure that the best of our weaving traditions can match the unique requirements of baby carriers for families around the world. In the future we look forward to building further on this too.
10) What is your favourite book?
11) What advice would you give to someone starting out?
The same advice I was given myself: Work hard and believe in yourself. Nothing is impossible when you dream big.
As we often say, the key to being successful is to START. In every niche, if you have some creativity, a unique selling point and lots of hard work you can make a successful business. Well done to Soul for bringing a unique and stylish product to the marketplace
Plus a huge thanks to Chinmayie for taking the interview. We hope you are inspired by her story.
As usual don’t forget to check out the recommended reading below. It comes recommended for a reason!