Two sisters – one a writer & journalist and the other an artist/calligrapher – combine their creative energies and lo and behold, out comes a unique kids products’ brand with Indian themes and stories – Tura Turi!
Priyanka Bhattacharya spent over a decade in television journalism – reporting and anchoring news from India and Dubai. Once she became a mother, bringing up her son in a foreign land, her heart ached for the uniquely Indian stories that she felt her son was missing. In a world full of Doremon, Spiderman, Pokemon and the likes, she realized the severe dearth of truly Indian themes in baby products. So on her return to India, in 2015 she teamed up with her Mumbai based artist sister Payal Bhattacharya and began learning all about textiles and entrepreneurship so they could offer a unique value proposition in the burgeoning baby products’ market.
Where stories come alive
Tura Turi brings to life often forgotten Indian motifs and art forms on our country’s indigenous textiles. Its best seller baby quilts for instance have uniquely Indian stories that not many other brands will be able to offer.
Priyanka says, “When my son was a baby, he knew about reindeer and iguanas before he had seen pictures of a peacock or parrot. Common Indian motifs that we tend to take for granted, are missing from children’s merchandise in our market. Tura Turi aims to fill that gap.”
The mindset change
Turning entrepreneur is no easy feat when you have always been a corporate slave. Starting from scratch, the two sisters began by gathering knowledge about fabrics, methods of printing, accounting and book-keeping and went on to establish an online merchandise store at www.tura-turi.com
“The biggest change was to switch from being an employee used to getting a paycheck at the beginning of each month, to becoming an entrepreneur. Now, the buck, literally stops with me”, says Priyanka.
The quintessential Indian family business
15 of the top 20 business groups in India are family owned! PwC’s Family Business Survey 2016 has some interesting insights:
- 75% of Indian family businesses have grown in the last 12 months
- 84% expect to grow either steadily or aggressively over the next 5 years
- 48% plan to pass on ownership to next gen but bring in professional management
Payal, an accomplished calligrapher, says working with family has its bonus points as well as pitfalls.
“The idea was to collaborate and bring together both our worlds. Her strength lay in words while my strength was art. Working with the family comes with its pros and cons. We are very mindful of the fact that we are family and cannot afford to bring our professional differences back home. The upside is we know each other’s strengths inside out and can bring out the best in each other.”
Product & Pricing strategy
Tura Turi targets customers who are not only attracted to Indian roots but also place a premium on quality. Sourcing the best quality of textiles (like the highest grade of muslin for their very popular baby swaddles), the brand ensures it doesn’t cut corners on quality. Priyanka strongly believes in breaking stereotypes in parenting and this comes across in the brand as well.
“We wanted to go beyond the clichéd ‘only pastels for babies’ route and have experimented with vibrant, deep colours. At Tura Turi, we don’t believe that pink is only for girls or blue for boys. We have a vibrant range of products where the focus in on vibrant, aesthetic designs that cater to all kinds of children and parents!” she says.
The proverbial glass ceiling
Flexibility, multitasking and a conducive business environment are all leading to a rise in woman entrepreneurs in India but even today, there are pros and cons of being a woman in business. According to Priyanka, the biggest challenge is the ‘mompreneur’ tag which means a lot of people don’t take her seriously and see this as a hobby.
“Currently, operations are small but it is a full time investment that is as dear (and time consuming) as raising my son. However, the same ‘mompreneur’ tag comes with its own set of advantages. As a mother and a woman, I am very clear on what I want – fair trade, focus on quality, empathy towards co-workers and the extended team that help manufacture our products.”
Word of mouth & digital media
Riding on organic growth so far, Tura Turi has made good use of social media for advertising and marketing its products and retails through popular e-commerce portals like Amazon as well as its own e-store.
Priyanka says, “The biggest advantage is the ease of starting a business online. On an online e-commerce portal, a startup or new brand is placed alongside the biggest brands, and eventually good quality and consistency wins out. Shoppers are also more discerning now and ready to give new labels a try. We came in with no prior experience, no big investors and in a year we are among the top selling brands on some e-commerce portals!”
Going forward, the sisters would like to see their products in brick and mortar baby stores across India and are currently exploring opportunities in the US markets as well.
“Social media is a great platform to tell stories and engage customers. We genuinely believe that with Tura Turi, you don’t just get a product but a story along with it – quite literally too, as all our products come with a little rhyme and back story,” says Payal.
Products to parenting tips
Motherhood has not just led to the creation of brand Tura Turi but has also extended the brand into a parenting blog. When the journalist in Priyanka is hungry to write, she pens down (aka types out!) her experiences on the Tura Turi blog. Other moms have seen value in her writing and joined the blogging bandwagon and this initiative is now wholly crowd sourced with real life stories of issues like adoption, breast milk donation and views on India’s new maternity bill.
PS: In case you were wondering, Tura Turi means “munna munni” or “chhora chhori” in Chhattisgarhi – an endearing term for little boys and little girls!