Putchi – A Maternity Superstore is Born

Just after she had delivered her baby in 2020, Deepika Thiyagarajan realised that there were not enough fashion choices for young mothers. This was a pain-point that irked her so much she convinced her husband, Thiyagarajan and together they started a brand focussing solely on maternity needs in their hometown, Coimbatore. They named it Putchi. “We drew inspiration from the Asian philosophy where chi stands for energy that drives life,” explains Thiyagarajan. “And being a motherhood brand and celebrating life and birthing we thought it was apt.” And true to the name they have just kept on growing. Putchi started sellling through Instagram and was welcomed by eager customers. Soon it was retailed through an exclusive store and also at other retail outlets. Each of these milestones have been turning points in Put-chi’s short history spanning just 4 years. But there was more to come.

Founders Deepika and Thiagu
Founders Deepika and Thiagu

The transition to a superstore

From being a maternity fashion brand Putchi transitioned to become a maternity solutions provider. “Looking at India as an ecosystem, it requires a maternity marketplace. And we thought we could be a market leader,” elaborates Thiyagarajan. Strong believers in research, the founders discovered a latent need for an aggregator platform in the maternity space and have moved swiftly to fill it as a solutions provider. “It was a huge shift to go from being a fashion brand to becoming a marketplace. We needed to be heavily tech-reliant to operate as a SaaS Platform,” he adds. Happily for them though, Putchi FemTech Maternity Marketplace Superstore was born and it onboarded 150 brands in a matter of 6 months with many of them also receiving over a thousand orders through the site.

Safe bamboo based intimate wear
Safe bamboo based intimate wear

Research and forecasting

What did this shift from being a fashion brand to a marketplace involve internally? “It was a huge challenge because we first needed to figure out the technology, make it simple and also find the right resources to execute it. All this while being loyal to our vision and ensuring there’s no hit to our current business. So we first wrote down all the possible problems that may occur at each turn and how we were going to navigate through them. This really helped us as these problems actually cropped up and we were ready with the solutions,” says Thiyagarajan. “For example once we’d onboarded 10 brands there was a demand to minimise the effort in onboarding. Some others wanted to be able to respond to orders in realtime. Since we had already expected these scenarios we were well equipped to move fast. And we are also there in a lot of marketplaces as well, so we knew what to expect too.”

Safe and Comfortable wear for infants and kids too
Safe and Comfortable wear for infants and kids too

Turning Pain-points into Opportunities

Turning pain points into profitable business opportunities seems to be what the founders of Putchi seem to be good at. Right from the start when Deepika spotted a gap in the fashion space for maternity wear to using their learnings from being customers in other marketplaces, they have always experienced the pain and challenges before converting them into products and services. “There are many who sit around bemoaning that things are not right. Yet, how many take it upon themselves to find a solution? That’s what my wife did cleverly and also was persuasive enough for us to invest in the idea and make it a successful business,” observes Thiyagarajan.

Stylish dresses for young mothers
Stylish dresses for young mothers

Catering to pregnancies, new mothers, babies and kids!

The founders ’confidence in their products flourishing, even while featured among other top competitors ’brands on Putchi’s aggregator platform speaks volumes for the quality of their output and their loyal client base. “Customers who’ve tried our products keep coming back to us while for the others there’s a world of choice that we offer not just for mothers but for new borns and kids too!” adds Thiyagarajan. One of their best sellers is the intimate wear made of bamboo under the sub-brand Nakd. The other sub-brands are Putchi Relaxd for lounge wear and Touchd for wellness products such as bio-degradable soft pads, sanitary pads, spa crystals and bamboo compression socks.

Fashionable maternity wear
Fashionable maternity wear

Coherent processes and a strong team

Putchi works with sustainability at its core. “When looking to design intimates for new mothers, bamboo was the best choice. Of course like always, a load of research preceded our decision to go with fabric from this natural fibre. Its anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties are ideal for feeding moms to stay hygienic and safe.” says Thiyagu. The samples are designed at Putchi and the bulk orders are manufactured by third-party vendors. The team size has grown to 25 and they are led by a husband and wife team, which led to the obvious question, ‘How easy or tough is it when you are working with your spouse?’ “It’s actually our strength I believe. Otherwise it would have been difficult to survive the challenges and make this work. We have clear areas of work and don’t take decisions in the others’ space,” says Thiyagarajan. Deepika comes from a creative background and serves as the COO while Thiyagarajan heads Marketing for Putchi. (A few days after this interview the lovely couple were blessed with a baby girl!)

The Putchi Team
The Putchi Team

It’s in the DNA

Thiyagarajan, or Thiyagu as he’s popularly known, has one more story of how he converted pain-points into business ideas. After completing his degree in electrical engineering in India, he worked in Australia from 2014 to 2018 after completing his Masters in Business. Landing in an alien country with no friends to support or hang out with, Thiyagu experienced many lows which he then converted into a business idea and Roofyou was born in Melbourne. This brand sought to make students feel welcome in a new country providing them with the comfort of a ready community, co-living space and information on all that they needed to survive. Once back in India he started an another venture – a hot chocolate and coffee brand. Both are now history as the couple focus all their energies on Putchi.

Check out www.theputchi.com for more on their products.

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