BENGALURU: In mid-March, when cousins Gehna Manglani (21) and Nihal Manglani (25) returned from New York and Melbourne, respectively, the relief the family felt was something else. So when they watched migrant labourers struggling to return home, both of them could empathise with them. The result has been Doori, a range of certified organic masks, with proceeds being given to a non-profit organisation that supports migrants.
“I remember a news item on migrants from Delhi struggling to return to Uttar Pradesh. I broke down watching that, because I had experienced the same. I was desperate to come home and be with family. I was lucky to have the resources to return before the lockdown,” recalls Gehna, a student of Parsons School of Design, who was nudged by her father, Rajesh Manglani, to take this initiative forward.
Out of their family-run garment export business unit in Koramangala, Gehna and Nihal have been working on 6,000 orders, including 2,000 for Parikrma Foundation, and 1,000 for the Adugodi police station. “Every day is a learning experience. For instance, a staff member was complaining of a constant headache. We suggested a change in mask and to our surprise, the headache disappeared. It was then that he realised that the initial mask was too tight,” says Gehna.
Having come up with masks that are reusable, washable, with elastic bands that are soft and covered in fabric, Nihal points out that their USP is an anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial finish. While he’s been looking for opportunities after his MBA, he sees this as a potential venture. “We are taking things one day at a time, learning how the market works, and figuring the running of a website,” he says, adding that they are currently working on kids’ sizes too.
Understanding that competition is stiff, the two are also doing surveys. “This gives us an idea if designs or price points have to be tweaked, and general issues that people face with masks,” says Gehna, admitting that so far they’ve been consumers and not creators. “We’re coming up with ways to engage with customers, like asking people to tag us on social media after using the masks,” she adds.