Twenty-six-year-old Deepanjali Dalmia stunned her family into silence as she unfolded her business plans. Why would a decent young woman raised in a respectable family ever want to dabble in a business of an unsavory kind? Sanitary pads? Her family almost threw a fit.
Disbelief merged with dismay when the New York-based, brilliant financial consultant threw away a promising job in Ernest and Young and decided to go full throttle into the manufacture and marketing of organic sanitary napkins.
Her decision, of course, sent everyone close to her into a tizzy. What could possibly have possessed her to go in for this offbeat business? When even soaps and detergents were losing their lather to better business options, where would their daughter’s crazy venture stand? But the young lady stayed unfazed in the face of a volley of skepticism and criticism. She would make organic sanitary pads!
“Everybody thought I’d gone bonkers. Who would even dare to think of venturing into the multi-million, multinational market of sanitary pads, a business monopolized by the world’s biggest brands? Where would a beginner be in the face of these giants?
“How to talk openly about a woman’s ‘those’ days, which come visiting every month was the question that loomed large. When the very word menstruation is taboo and any talk of periods done in hush-hush tones, how could one talk openly about sanitary pads? Would any parent take pride in announcing that a child of theirs was making and selling sanitary pads for a living?” Deepanjali remembers how difficult it was to get the business going.
But the one beacon of hope in her life was her father who believed in his daughter despite the initial misgivings. He was, in fact, her biggest source of inspiration. She decided to open the topic with her father. It was the first time that the father-daughter duo decided to delve into the topic.
Though reticent at first, her father’s valuable inputs were a solid base from where the business took off. Her father’s positive aura was what fueled the venture and propelled ‘Heyday’, Deepanjali Dalmia’s organic sanitary pads, into the market.
Her academic background came in handy for the young entrepreneur who was tutored mainly in all-girls schools and colleges for women. From Delhi’s Carmel Convent School to Bernard College in Colombia University, it was a journey into the exclusivity of what a woman wanted during her periods. Sanitary pad was not just another product she had in mind. It had to have value-addition. Though she had majored in economics and psychology, her deep knowledge of lifestyle products helped her a lot at this juncture.
Her first step was to create a solid financial base with experts chipping in with ideas and advice. She teamed up with Nielson and did a thorough research into the marketing possibilities of the product. She found that women had no choice but to use what was readily available in the market despite their adverse impact on health.
That brought in the organic element, of less hazard to the human body as well as the environment. The pads prevalent in markets today cause bodily damage and inflict harm on the surroundings. Pads used and discarded cause unimaginable damage to the environment and this had to be stopped. All popular brands are made from plastic material with harmful chemicals going into their making. The effect of such chemically charged pads on the body is deadly.
This made Deepanjali zero in on her three-formula pads. They were to be chemical-free, environment-friendly and bodily sound. Two years of research and hard work later, ‘Heyday’ put in an appearance in the market, surmounting the challenges that went into its production and marketing.
The initial plan was to manufacture the pads with barks from trees. The hunt for the best type of tree ended in bamboo. The next step was to finalize the production centers with China and Finland making the final cut. Today, lakhs of organic sanitary pads roll out of the 12 units each set up in both the countries.
Deepanjali had her reasons for taking the production to China and Finland. A soil test proved that these two countries had the best earth, unpolluted and free of chemicals.
The pads are produced completely in China with their cover coming from Finland. They are then brought to India where the final packing is done. Instead of polythene, they are wrapped in thick paper. The pad, covered and wrapped are thus hundred percent safe on the environment.
Though the production cost is pretty high, ‘Heyday’ can be bought for the same price of similar other products. The used pads decompose within six months and are not hazardous to the environment. Though the pads are available only in Noida, efforts are on to market them all over India.
“While almost all manufacturing units are run by men, marketing is done by women. Marketing is not an easy job as most shopkeepers would rather trade with their male counterparts. Nor is it easy for young girls to explain the organic benefits of sanitary pads to men who run the stores.
“When my girls come to me with these problems I tell them: ‘You have a strong voice. Make your statement loud and clear. If one man does not listen to you, another will. Gradually, our product will speak for itself.’ This is my only marketing strategy.”
Though hesitant and downright rude at times, shopkeepers have started supporting ‘Heyday’. They now display the product in their shops. The pads enjoy a growing market in Dubai and the Philippines. ‘Heyday’ came out in January 2017.
Deepanjali is optimistic that ‘Heyday’ will make a mark in the international market. Here’s wishing the young entrepreneur and her remarkable product all the very best!