The easiest way we all choose to rejuvenate our self from stress, tiredness, or boredom is a quick nap. While we all share the love for sleep, we have different requirements from pillows, exposure to light, to kind of bedding. Catering to such vast needs is a great business idea, and so thought Ami Sata, who founded Amouve – first-of-its-kind, certified organic, ecommerce-friendly bedding brand in India.
Looking at the past, Ami Sata grew up in a business family that was into agriculture trade. The dinner table conversations at home largely revolved around business or agriculture. She grew up in Gujarat and later shifted to Mumbai after completing her high school. She did her bachelors in media with a major in branding and advertising. Later, she happened to work in the marketing department of a bedding brand and started understanding the nuances of the sector.
Ami visited Scandinavia where she was introduced to the most sumptuous beddings. Those were made of organic cotton, and on more probing she found about the origin of the product and how it was made. She came back to India and started making calls to manufacturers trying to find whether it could be possible for her to undertake such kind of a business. While trying to find the same quality retailers, she noticed that for most of them, fashion was their first priority than a good sleep for the customers.
Ami realised that the emphasis on the fabric that touches our skin was minimal. Only a few realise that conventional cotton sheets are choc-a-block with chemicals, from pesticide-laden cotton to formaldehyde finishes. Anti-wrinkle and anti-stain sheets may be easy to maintain but not our health. Considering we spend nearly 1/3 of our lives in bed, it is necessary we sleep without these nasties.
Ami, with this idea clear in her mind, wanted to also have a business with a clear conscience and stand up for the cause of the Indian cotton farmers. The case with farmers is that,l they enter into contracts with multinationals for purchasing patented GM seeds and pesticides. These are brought at excessive rates claiming that they yield a good crop.
Cotton accounts for nearly 24 percent of the world’s insecticide market. Pesticides and insecticides not only kill cotton pests but also the good insects. “Because the natural enemy has been eradicated, the target insects, which at one point were a minor nuisance, become more pronounced. Thwn even greater amount of pesticide is sprayed on to keep them in check. This vicious cycle leads to what is known as the ‘pesticide treadmill’. This in turn leads to rising debt and suicides of the farmers.
As consumers, it is necessary to opt for an alternative in order to stop this vicious cycle. The beauty of organic cotton is its sustainability for the planet, biodiversity, human health, as well as the farmers, and textile workers,” says Ami.
Amouve stands for ‘the love of dreams and they wish to manifest dreams for consumers in the form of soft, natural. luxurious sleep, for farmers by giving them a respectable and debt-free livelihood, and for the environment through sustainable practices. The range includes bed sheets, duvets and comforters, quilts and linen cushion covers. The idea behind Amouve is to cut down on offline rentals and middlemen margins and to pass on the cost benefit to the consumer. Therefore, Amouve sells through its own website. And by retailing online, they are able to offer luxury bedding at affordable rates because they are not paying money for slotting products on store shelves. Also, by being a single point of contact directly with consumers, they are able to keep strict quality checks that make buying bed sheets online a hassle-free process.
Amouve received finance which was a mix of savings of Ami and some funds pumped in by her family and friends. The biggest challenges for them has been educating our customers about where the cotton comes from and the importance of making informed decisions about the products they purchase. According to Ami, “If we can tackle a part of the world-wide challenge by creating a safe and fair environment for those growing our cotton and making our products, we will have made a positive impact on people’s lives that truly need it. Over a period of time, we have taken steps to overcome the awareness challenge through swatches to offline pop up shops to block printing workshops to organic markets.”
Amouve works with artisans that take pride in their art, from hand block printing to screen printing. Both these art forms are indigenous to India having flourished here for years. “I believe Indian art requires a bigger audience within the country. The kind of fascination and appreciation that our country holds in the eyes of westerners needs to built further within our own people. Which is why we chose to work on these rather than opting for machine made prints,” says Ami Sata.
Amouve started this year in January and operates out of Bangalore, ships pan India and worldwide. Its team consists of just four people, apart from Ami. As for farmers their production and processes supports nearly 600 farmers. By paying higher cotton premiums, farmers are availed pre-financing of up to 30 percent of the cotton harvest. Amouve aims to continue building upon creating awareness through sustained marketing efforts. When talking about the future goal, Ami says, “The coming year will see us coming up with more collections and widening the gamut of organic products in our coterie.”
There are just three things which helped Ami come this far with the idea. In an interview with KenFolios, she mentions them:
1. You’ve got to be brave in order to challenge convention and create your own path.
2. Never give up. Entrepreneurship is a lonely road and the only way to keep going is to be resilient. Grit is one’s biggest ally.
3. Believe in yourself. It is very important to continue to believe in your journey even if people may doubt it.”