One for the boys
Lekha Raghupathi’s label Page 3 Kids, has a range of trendy clothes for little boys and is now on amazon.in. Inspired by the kids’ collections of Armani, Kim Kardashian and Ralph Lauren, the clothes promise a ‘fun experience to dress a boy.’ An IT professional, Raghupathi loves dressing up her baby. “When my son was born, I started scouting around for fun clothes — even the Kardashian or Armani collections, to see if I could find less expensive alternatives,” she says.
But boys’ clothing options were extremely limited, and even those marginally on-trend were extremely uncomfortable, feels Raghupathi. “Denims are not great for babies, as they can be stiff and hamper play and movement. They also come with large clumsy button fastenings as well,” she explains. Raghupathi sources her clothes from US and Japan-based export dealers. She focuses on organic, child-friendly fabrics like bamboo fibre, ideal for humid Indian conditions as it absorbs sweat, and thick worsted cotton, that keeps the body at room temperature.
The range includes cutesy suits, jackets, trousers and hoodies with fun animal motifs for babies, pre-schoolers, pre-teens, and occasion dressing. We loved the idea of the Mickey Mouse rompers, hoodies with ears, trousers with tails, and smart suits with cute polka-dotted bow ties. Raghupathi plans to soon branch into girls’ wear too. `1,500 upwards. Details: page3kids.com
A new leaf
Seven years in the planning, Lightroom Bookstore finally became a reality when Aashti Mudnani came into a modest inheritance from her grandfather. “As soon as my daughter was born, we began to look for books, but it was difficult to find quality material. It was then I thought of starting a children’s bookstore.” Finally taking the plunge, Mudnani ‘found a small space, signed the lease, and opened in six weeks’. Now she has already broken even, much to the delight of her accountant, and moved to new premises. In the bargain, she’s learned to ‘let the small things go’, is training two staff members and scheduling a full programme of events. Forthcoming sessions include a reading hour with the ‘Story Wallahs’ on Saturday, January 24, and a leaf-printing workshop the following Sunday. “We offer a chance to browse, specialist advice and books that you won’t find elsewhere,” she explains. So while you will find copies of Harry Potter and Diary of a Wimpy Kid here, the biggest seller of 2014 was The Honey Hunters, a large-format picture book, and you can also pick up quirky classics like No Kiss For Mother, and Drew Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Quit, as well as indigenous children’s literature. `20 upwards. At Cooke Town. Details: 25460466.
Lynn and Jude Lazaro had a hard time finding cutesy clothing for their baby Alayna. “I used to see cool onesies on international websites, but not in India,” begins the young mum. So the Lazaros decided to start a company to fill the niche six months ago with Yowzza – a quirky brand of cheeky rompers and onesies. “We want parents to enjoy the first (and most exhausting) year of parenthood,” they say. Yowzza makes for cute pictures and conversation starters with slogans like Drool Dispenser, I Hate The Night Shift and What Goes In Must Come Out. Lynn ensures the clothing is as comfortable as possible. “We only use cotton fabric and lead-free dye to screen print the designs created by Jude. Our neck sizes are bigger than standard to slip gently over a baby’s head and neck,” Lynn tells us. Look out for Toothless, the tiger cub, a puppet-cum-carry bag. At the moment, Yowzza stocks only onesies, short sleeves and long sleeves, up till the age of 12 months. “This year, we are going to be starting T-shirts for older kids. And since Jude does a phenomenal job, parents can rest assured that we will not be outsourcing it,” she signs off. Details: yowzza.com
Snip in time
Anu Basavaraju was inspired to create Divas and Dudes after traumatic trips to the hairdresser with her young daughter Gowri. “When we moved back here from the States I realised that the salon experience was difficult for a child,” she begins, adding, “The products were loaded with chemicals, the stylists were not used to dealing with children and nothing was at the right height.” She also observed that most birthday parties “were held in unhealthy fast food joints,” Solving both problems, Basvaraju collaborated with interior designer Chitra Nair, and came up with Divas and Dudes, which recently moved to larger premises in Indiranagar.
It offers charming vehicles instead of regular salon chairs, a full range of non-toxic and organic nail paints and shampoos, plus a dedicated party room which can be customised according to the child’s wishes, with past themes including the expected Princesses and superheroes, but also more unusual ideas inspired by countries, book characters and colours. Clearly, the space is already rocking, and they will open an ‘art cafe’ next month, to add to the fun. They also now have a kumon centre for after school maths and english programmes, and are planning to open new centres city (and hopefully even country!) wide. Salon services `250 upwards. At 12th Main, Indiranagar. Details: 25252005
Created to provide a safe, hygienic, all-weather play option for kids, Gambolla has since moved location, and morphed from an activity centre for toddlers to a one-of-its-kind facility for children of all ages. “No play equipment at the club is electronic or battery-operated, the focus being more on developing skills at physical, intellectual, emotional and social levels,” says the founder Mahita Fernandes. Calling it ‘a space with different elements inspired by a neighbourhood park, the warmth of a grandparent’s or friend’s house, the relaxed mood of summer vacations, the social vibe of a playschool and the comfort of your home all rolled into one’.
Gambolla has now added a library for children up to 14, an all-weather play area, activities and skill-based classes for children and adults, a birthday party venue and a performance space. They also hold periodic camps for kids that seamlessly blend education and fun. “Running Gambolla is like having a dozen children! The entire business is people-driven and entails walking a tightrope between my heart and my head,” Fernandes laughs.
They now provide daycare facilities , “even for periods while parents are busy shopping or eating out. Our staff are specially trained to handle meals and nap times for all ages.” And the best part of it all? “Being a part of so many children’s formative years. They may not remember me 10 years down the line, but I’m still hugged at malls each weekend,” she beams. With big plans for Gambolla, including new services, new centres and new offerings, Fernandes hints of a big overhaul in 2015, but won’t ruin the surprise until it’s all settled. At St Mark’s Road. Details: gambolla.com.
Bake me cake
You are what you eat! So don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake,” reads the business card tagline of Meeta Walavalkar’s, the mum behind Soul Bakers, an organic bakery. “I’ve always been a health nut. And when I read how off-the-shelf foods affect the health of my kids, I decided to come up with my own alternatives,” shares Walavalkar, who quit a 12-year MNC job to set up Soul Bakers. She began to substitute maida with organic atta, refined sugar with organic jaggery and margarine or butter with olive oil, building up a reputation for healthy snacks, with friends placing orders for organic, gourmet breads. Then she decided to go big, hiring more staff and expanding her range to include exotic flavours and innovative pairings like carrot bread, wheat grass bread, palak bread and cinnamon raisin swirl bread.‘‘These breads are at least 10 times higher in nutritional value than any bread in the market today,” she explains. Their cookies and cakes do not have any artificial flavours and make use of the natural sweetness of the ingredients used. “We try to bake things that will have at least one intrinsic raw material that will provide sweetness to the product so that we cut down on sugar usage,” she explains. Details: facebook.com/soulbaker