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Making Parents Worry-Free, Dabble Makes Toxin-Free Art Products For Children

Karen Saldanha and Neha Bajaj | Dabble Founders

The Indian startup ecosystem is driven by those entrepreneurs who are willing to change the norms for the better.

Still, in its nascent stage, the ecosystem is growing fast. A part of this growth is because of women-led startups that are changing the landscape of the Indian startup ecosystem.

The good news is that the number of women-led startups is growing, and as per many industry experts, there’s going to be a substantial increase in female-led businesses in India over the next two to three years.

Todays’s startup story is about two mothers who quit their corporate careers to make toxin-free paints, crayons, and art kits for the zero-six age group.

[Read: Debt Resolution SaaS Startup Credgenics Is Helping NBFCs, Banks, Fintechs Recover Their Bad Debts Using AI/ML]

Startup Story: Dabble | Art Products That Are Toxin-Free, Chemical-Free

Dabble

Dabble Founder

Started by Karen Saldanha and Neha Bajaj in May 2018, Dabble makes art products that are toxin-free and chemical-free.

The products that the startup makes are made with earth-friendly ingredients that are child-safe.

Co-founders First Meeting And Work experience

Karen and Neha met at an expressive art therapy course they took up in Bengaluru. While pursuing it, they became close and even gave birth just four days apart.

Karen had earlier worked with ICICI Prudential in sales, learning, and development for around a decade.

 In 2010, Karen joined IIM Bangalore’s women entrepreneur programme, and after the programme started a corporate training practice. 

Soon she felt a need to use the arts as an expression in her work, and then she joined the one-year expressive arts therapy course where she met Neha.

Having worked as an advertising and editorial photographer for more than 12 years, Neha did not feel the same excitement at work any more. 

So, Neha decided to pursue art therapy and joined the expressive art therapy course.

How Dabble Started?

Both Karen and Neha were sourcing art products for their children from abroad and realised the need for safe options at home. 

That was the time the idea of Dabble incepted in the mind of the co-founders.

The idea evolved with two questions.

First being, “Why safe art only for our kids, why not for the children of the world?”

And second, “How about making our own crayons?” 

Neha says,

“We had common ideologies on raising kids and art had a special place in our hearts and in our homes.”

Karen and Neha then spent months researching crayons, natural waxes, and the first experiment was conducted in Neha’s kitchen.

The duo created their first crayon in August 2017 and subsequently spent several months developing products and letting their kids and those of friends test them.

Progressively, business ideas developed and Dabble was started in May 2018 to “bring innovation and safety in products for the early childhood segment”, says Neha.

Dabble Art Products

USP Of Dabble

Dabble makes art products that are toxin-free, chemical-free, and are made with earth-friendly ingredients that are child-safe.

In addition to safe paints and non-toxic crayons, the startup has introduced a category of products called PlayArt, in which crayons come in different shapes, such as animals and cars. 

Karen says,

“Our crayons are made from organic beeswax and come in fun shapes that are easy to grip and don’t break easily like other crayons.”

“We have also applied for a patent on our unique formulation.”

Neha says each product is developed with support from a team of chemists and food technologists. Products are tested at a laboratory certified by the government body National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories.

The startup is also bringing the trend of finger paints to India, says Neha.

“The sensory experience of playing with paints is not only fun, but also has benefits in terms of cognitive, motor, and language development,” she says. 

“Our finger paints contain coconut oil and sweet orange oil, which create a multi-sensory stimulation.”

Dabble’s products are made in India and available on its website, as well as eCommerce platforms including Amazon.

Present Situation Of Dabble

As per Karen, despite the pandemic and the lockdown last year, the startup is looking to achieve 100% sales growth and an operating margin of 25-30% in 2021. 

In less than two years, the startup has acquired more than 7,000 customers, says Karen. The business is profitable and broke even at the end of its first year, she says.

Dabble is also getting incubated at the NS Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, IIM Bangalore.

Future Plans Of Dabble

The startup plans to expand its team to about 20 in the next two years to fuel growth.

And with the grant, the startup has received from the Information Technology, Biotechnology, and Science and Technology Department of the Karnataka government, Dabble plans to scale this year, add more products, and focus on online distribution. 

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