The 20th century has seen vast changes made in several sectors where the practice of reducing, recycling, and reusing is getting greater recognition. Primarily plastics/synthetic materials used in the personal hygiene categories are being replaced with organic materials. While the idea might seem redundant to many, others beg to differ; especially for one particular startup named Heyday, who has taken this idea and converted it into a successful business.
Heyday is a company that manufactures organic, natural hygiene products such as baby diapers, panty liners, sanitary napkins, and more. Bangalore insider had an unique opportunity to have a small interview with Deepanjali Kanoria, the founder of Heyday and the conversations are provided below.
Give a brief info about your startup?
Heyday is India’s first mover in the biodegradable, organic and natural personal hygiene segment. Heyday products consist of natural sanitary napkins, baby diapers and panty liners for a safer, healthier and softer way of experiencing hygiene. Made from pure organic corn and bamboo fibres, Heyday pads, liners and diapers provide a rash-free, allergy-free, and super soft journey of care. While most commercial sanitary pads and diapers monopolised by big giants use harmful synthetic raw materials in the production, Heyday products are plant based, completely safe, biodegradable and decompose within 2 years from disposal saving the Earth from acres of polluted landfills. Consumers of sanitary napkins and baby diapers are unaware that their products contain 90% plastics, bleaches, parabens, perfumes, antibacterial agents and chemicals harmful for their sensitive skin causing irritation, rashes, redness and other serious ailments due to continuous exposure over prolonged period of time. We are trying our best to raise awareness about sustainable personal care and ensuring that our products are accessible and affordable to everyone. We plan to completely revolutionize the personal care game by adding more products in future which are a win-win for both the body and the environment. Heyday was started at a time when there was a rise in changing consumer behavior and people wanted to adopt sustainable solutions to their everyday habits.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
It was during my job as a consultant where it dawned upon me that I had the scope of influencing positive impact beyond the conference room at a client site. The idea of finding sustainable solutions to everyday problems always fascinated me and being educated at all-women’s institutions, I was always sensitive towards issues affecting women and wanted to come up with an innovative solution to problems affecting a large number of women.
I did a lot of preliminary research and found that 8 out of 10 women suffer from rashes and discomfort during periods. In fact I had no idea that only 12% of Indian women used personal hygiene products like sanitary napkins, tampons, menstrual cups, etc. This figure needed to change and I just couldn’t keep myself from digging deeper and conducting more industry research. I quit my job a few months later, with a head full of ideas and the desire to create something meaningful and revolutionary. My role at EY allowed me to gather the financial know-how of converting an idea to reality from a business perspective.
Upon returning to New Delhi and conducting in depth scientific testing and research, I found that India is in the face of a personal hygiene crisis. Roughly only 12% Indian women are able to afford sanitary napkins on their periods and even those 12% are unaware that the pads they are using are composed of plastics, bleaches, polymers, perfumes, antibacterial agents and other toxins that can leave them susceptible to a host of problems harmful for their body like cervical cancers, urinary tract infections, rashes, allergies and general skin sensitivity. Not only this, every year 9000 tonnes (432 million pads) of soiled sanitary waste is dumped in acres of landfills with no solution for decomposition thereby harming the environment endlessly. Not just pads, even plastic diapers were constantly adding to the ever growing stack of plastics in landfills. I saw this as a major issue and took on the challenge to find a better, safer answer to this problem.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
I was born and brought up in New Delhi and I went to two all women’s institutions, Carmel Convent School in New Delhi and Barnard College of Columbia University in New York.
I graduated from Columbia with a major in Economics and Psychology in 2014 and rode the tide of getting a high paying corporate job in the financial sector in Manhattan. It was just what the top achievers went on to do and I considered myself very fortunate when Ernst & Young called me their incoming financial analyst. As part of EY’s business advisory team, I worked on several projects and honed my financial know-how before starting my entrepreneurial stint with Heyday.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
Heyday is based out of Delhi and Kolkata but we cater to pan India via both offline and online presence in more than 300+ outlets. As of now we are catering to the Indian market but we are looking to expand to the international market as well. Any place is a good place to start something which brings about a change for better.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
I am extremely paranoid about the quality of Heyday products. I personally ensure multiple quality checks and intensive research before any product is ready to hit the market so as to not compromise on consumer expectations at any cost. Constantly reinventing the wheel and introducing better products for our users is what keeps us ahead of the curve, I spend a good amount of time and thought on deciding what the next new launch for our product line would be and how it would be solving a problem.
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
After Heyday launched and saw good market adoption, numerous brands joined the bandwagon and currently exist in this segment which cater to organic and natural personal care. This always makes me happy because we were able to start a trend and create a new niche segment for organic and natural personal hygiene in the Indian marketplace – the multitude of new brands give us the proof of concept that there is an unmet demand for innovative personal care in India. We conduct a lot of research before launching any product and consider ourselves superior in quality and priced at much affordable rates as compared to our other competitors in the market.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
I have always been a very balanced person and easily managed my work and life right from the start. In fact, there isn’t much managing needed when it comes working with passion and family that is extremely supportive.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If not then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
Heyday has always been completely bootstrapped and self sustained. However, now that we have found our ground, proof of concept, established robust operations and have more than 4 Lakh customers who believe in us, we look forward to raising funds so that we can market our products to a much wider audience and broaden our product portfolio to provide more options to our consumers.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
Organic is a very loosely used term and most people do not realize the amount of research and work it takes to ensure that the entire product right from raw materials to packaging is completely organic. Most people normally assume that organic and natural products are expensive and pocket pinching, however at Heyday we want to change the narrative around that. Our products are priced neck to neck with the big giants with a much superior quality to make it affordable and accessible to all.
What gets you excited about this company?
We are glad of what we have been able to achieve in the last 3 years and we only want to get better everyday for all the consumers who believe in us. We have over 4L women who have thanked us for making their periods comfortable, lakhs of mothers who are relieved seeing their child sleep better at night and we so want to increase these numbers. The faith of our users and their constant feedback keeps us going and allows us to provide a better personal care experience every single day.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
My day looks as ordinary as anyone else’s, I do morning yoga, go to the office, go to the gym, sleep. However, there are certain things I am particular about, for instance, I make it a point to speak to my manufacturing unit for an hour everyday to ensure that production quality is not compromised at all. I try to adapt to a sustainable way of life personally and not just promote sustainable personal care.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
We are a team of 10 people in our corporate office. Some of them have been a part of Heyday’s journey right from the start and some of them have joined us on the way. We try to recruit both fresh and skilled talent. We are a team who are passionate about making Heyday better everyday and believe in the product and vision of the company.
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