Meet the Maker: Ashini and Rahil Shah – Zeezeezoo

Fun, eco-friendly, quirky, Indian, comfortable, cheeky, hand-drawn and cute are the words that come to mind when you think Zeezeezoo and their funky line of kid's apparel.

Fun, eco-friendly, quirky, Indian, worldly, comfortable, cheeky, hand-drawn, organic, and cute are the words that come to mind when you think Zeezeezoo and look at the products they put out.

The company and core team is based out of Gujarat. One of the founders (Ashini) lives in London. All their artists are located in and around India. We chatted with the founders to get to know Zeezeezoo better.

 How many members make up your team?

Ashini (33) and Rahil (28) started the business. They hired Drashti, Ali, and Nilesh as the first members of the team to help with managing the channel partners, fulfilling orders, sourcing new products, and accounting. 

zeezeezoo founders - ashini, rahil

Ashini & Rahil, Founders – Zeezeezoo

What were you doing before you started doing this?

Ashini has a background in Marketing and has worked with various organisations – from the American media giant NBC, to the London-based luxury start up The East India Company.

Post having a baby in 2013, she was re-evaluating life and decided to quit the day job, follow her passion, and start something of her own. One thing led to another and thus was born Zeezeezoo. Her life today revolves around her three babies, the two human ones and the business one.

Rahil has a background is in Accounting and Finance. He has previously worked with YES Bank, Mumbai in the investment banking division. After that, he worked on setting up a soft-drink concentrate brand before turning full time to Zeezeezoo.

Funky apparel being created at the Zeezeezoo workshop

Why did you choose to do what you do?

ASHINI: I grew up in the USA. I have lived in London for the past 8 years, and make frequent trips to India. When I became a mum, I realised that I wanted my daughter to grow up celebrating Holi and Halloween, and everything in between that was a part of my upbringing. 

I believe it is important to carry forward traditions my husband and I grew up with, while embracing new ones every day. This is where the idea for Zeezeezoo was born. To create products that new age parents can relate to, and get a laugh out of. 

The concept was originally designed to cater to the Indians around the world – but soon we discovered that there was a huge gap in the Indian market for something of this nature – western quality levels, design aesthetic, and customer experience, but with an Indian heart!

Obviously, to have the reach that we desired, something like this could only be done online.

RAHIL: E-commerce was (and is) growing rapidly. The ease and convenience of shopping online, the variety of options available, the speed of delivery, the low pricing, the smooth return and refund policies, and having a clear upper hand in every transaction – the Indian e-commerce environment has everything that can cater to a customer’s needs. And for me, there was no escaping this e-space addiction. There was a lot happening. But the one thing missing was some nice stuff being made for kids. No one was focusing on this or was taking this seriously. That’s where we saw a gap.

We are fascinated by names. What’s the story behind your brand name?

As for the inspiration for the brand name, Zeezeezoo is the buzzy song of the black-throated green warbler. We found this interesting and apt because it’s a migratory bird. And like migratory birds, we as humans travel in search of better, bigger, more interesting opportunities. Whether to another city or another land, we follow our dreams. This is something my dad has done, my husband has done, plenty of my friends have done… So it hit close to home.

Which are your best selling products?

It would probably be the cheeky organic tees and onesies. 

What kind of people do you create your products for?

The brand is designed for the Indian parents of today – living around the world, trying to stay connected to their roots and culture, while embracing global connectedness.

Our generation of parents loves Bollywood, swears by cricket, is addicted to politics, is bent upon giving their children the very best in life, and is always ready to have a laugh.

We think of ourselves as a brand that is trying to connect your roots and your wings, and makes your home wherever you are.

What are the challenges you face in connection with achieving your goals?

One challenge has been getting the Indian audience to believe in the organic concept and its importance. It’s big in the western world, and we do believe it is quite important and that it will gain awareness slowly but surely in India.

Also perhaps the challenge lies in making Indian parents realise that an Indian brand can offer a superior product of great quality.

Where do you see your brand three years from now? 

The goal is to make this an all-out kids’ brand that covers everything from apparel to educating to decor and more. We are also working to build a community on the site. The online mom network is simply amazing. The amount of information sharing and advice that takes place between moms surely must be the greatest in the world. There are lots of mummy communities currently online, but we would look to take multicultural parenting as a start.

Visit the Zeezeezoo Shop on Engrave.

Avinash Subramaniam

Avinash has been an advertising writer, fiction writer, poetry writer, freelance writer and serial wronger. Other roles he has been in include those of an editor, brand builder, and teacher. His interests include advertising, scrabble, body building, chess, cinema, making money, reading, internet culture, cricket, photography. To hear him air his thoughts, follow him on Twitter @armchairexpert.

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