Based in Haryana, Ajoobaa is an online initiative by Tarishi Jain for handmade crochet and knitted kidswear, focusing on Made in India. Its in-house brand Woonie, exclusively curated and crafted by artisans from rural India, is available on several marketplaces like Firstcry, Amazon, Myntra, Flipkart, Hopscotch, Ajio, and Nykaa Fashion. The brand also caters to B2B retailer clients in domestic and international markets through its website Ajoobaa.in and India Mart.
Architecture to Ajoobaa
Motherhood is what every woman dreams about, and for young Tarishi Jain from Sonipat, Haryana, it was no different. While enjoying motherhood, Tarishi, who quit her job as an architect, began to feel somewhat incomplete. One day as her mother-in-law gifted her four-month-old daughter a pretty crochet dress, Tarishi was struck by an idea. The designer in Tarishi came alive, and this time, instead of designing buildings, she found herself designing kidswear.
Tarishi, who already knew how to crochet, revisited her passion and started to make crochet dresses for her baby. Admired by family and friends, orders soon began to pour in. According to Tarishi, “A few enquired if I could make them for their children, but I did not have time or the capacity to do so much. I tried looking for somebody who could make it for me, and luckily, I found a domestic help in the neighborhood who was good at it. We worked on some designs and sold them to friends, and the orders just kept coming.”
An Ajoobaa was waiting to happen. Finally, in 2018 Tarishi Jain registered an apparel startup under the name ‘Ajoobaa’.
Within a few months of setting up Ajoobaa, the business began to grow substantially. Tarishi’s husband Nivesh Arora quit his highly lucrative corporate job at Amazon to join Ajoobaa. Ajoobaa soon had 250+ women knitting or crocheting kidswear.
Today Ajoobaa gets almost 4,000 orders a month and has been able to dress up over 20,000 children since its inception. There are over 300 frock designs, 100 different designs of booties, and scarves stocked in their collection centre. Despite the pandemic, Ajoobaa’s turnover increased from INR 1.04 crores in 2019-20 to INR 2.45 crores in 2020-2021.
Soft weaves, tough road
Ajoobaa works with rural artisans. As soon as their product passes QC (Quality Check), the artisan gets paid. This seemingly simple model was filled with challenges along the way.
On the design side, Nivesh explains, “Initially, one artisan would make a design and the other would prepare the same, but the knitting would be too tight. Then the third person would place the designs in a slightly different place in the garment. So, that’s when Tarishi started giving marked patterns to the head women, and others would follow her lead.”
Also, sourcing quality wool was another challenge. But the enterprising Tarishi and Nivesh worked hard to strike partnerships with several suppliers in Ludhiana.
Another challenge was getting the women to collect wool from the warehouse. Many women crocheters from 21-year-olds to 70-year-olds were hesitant to go to the warehouse or collection centre to collect wool/crochet thread. So, Tarishi and Nivesh came up with a system where field executives would distribute the raw material to the women at their homes when needed.
On the road to becoming the world’s # 1 handmade kidswear apparel brand, Tarishi and Nivesh are now looking for angel investors. Their vision is to have the largest virtual network of skilled rural artisans making handmade crochet and knitted kidswear.
The four key areas they plan to improve upon with funding include:
- Tech: App to automate and streamline manufacturing, supply chain, and logistics.
- Sales: Crossborder e-commerce especially targeting cold countries.
- Diversification: Expand to ladieswear and home décor.
- Operations: Create collection centres in tier III cities from where the artisans can take the raw material, submit the production with ease.
With the Indian kidswear market valued at USD 16.62 billion in FY2020 and expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.89% through FY2026 to reach USD 22.53 billion, Ajoobaa is ready to weave its magic with acrylic wool and mercerized cotton thread in kidswear.