This young sister brother duo refused to join their family business and started their own startup, generating ₹1.5 Cr revenue in FY24

Launched in 2021, CITTA is a brainchild of Pune-based mother-daughter & son, Monisha Sharma, Akanksha Sharma & Tanay Sharma. It is a premium and natural bath and skincare brand for babies.

In 2021, Akanksha Sharma, as young as 22 years old, returned to India with determination and passion after finishing an education in Apparel Industry Management from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles, United States of America. Despite hailing from a successful business family and having the luxury of joining it with a high position, she decided to choose a difficult path.

Her family runs a successful and burgeoning business called The Lexicon Group based in Pune, which is an education hub.

Instead of joining my family’s flourishing business where I would have started from a very high position, I wanted to start something from scratch and make it big, which gives different levels of contentment and learning,” said Akanksha during the conversation with Startup Pedia.

Akanksha Sharma - Founder of CITTA
Akanksha Sharma – Founder of CITTA

Being as young as 22 years old, Akanksha did not have much idea as to what kind of business she wanted to venture into. While she was searching for business ideas to pursue, a controversy made headlines all over the media. It was about renowned brand whose talc products, including its Baby Powder, allegedly causing cancer in babies. Although the brand claims that its talc products are safe and do not contain asbestos, which causes cancer, this issue caught Akanksha’s attention.

While discussing the issue with her mother, Monisha Sharma, who holds a degree in cosmetics, they found a huge gap in the industry. Monisha is also a director and Co-Founder of The Lexicon Group.  

We realised there’s a gap in this area (industry) that no one is filling. There are no safe, high-quality, and trustworthy options for parents for their babies’ skincare,” recalled Akanksha.  

The young woman entrepreneur Akanksha teamed up with her mother Monisha and launched CITTA after prolonged tests and experiments with multiple products they manufactured.

CITTA is a baby bath and skincare brand, based in Pune that manufactures and sells skincare products for babies, kids and adults that are crafted thoughtfully and bottled conveniently with natural traditional ingredients backed by modern science, such as moisturisers, massage oil, body wash, talc-free baby powder, shampoo, diaper rashes cream and many more.

Disrupting the baby care industry, the brand is inspired by #DadiNaniKeNuskhe for child care passed down through centuries from grandmothers to mothers.

The brand name was chosen by Monisha, co-founder of CITTA. The word is derived from the word ‘Chitt’ in Sanskrit, meaning consciousness. As the name suggests, all CITTA products are made consciously and thoughtfully.

Manufacturing of CITTA baby products

CITTA baby products
CITTA baby products

The Pune based startup uses high-quality ingredients prescribed by grandparents safely and conveniently for parents to use. For instance, the CITTA massage oil is a combination of 12 oils in a formulation that is stable and tested continuously.

The ingredients in CITTA products are natural and easily recognizable to consumers. All the ingredients for CITTA products are Eco-cert/COSMOS Organic certified and sourced from reputed vendors worldwide.

Most ingredients are naturally derived, with some being used in kitchens. Other natural ingredients include betaine and glycerine. The brand values transparency and adheres to international guidelines, including mentioning every ingredient on its labels, to ensure product acceptance across the globe and help parents make informed decisions.

CITTA products are manufactured in Valsad, Gujarat, and tested rigorously before being released to consumers.

USP of CITTA baby products

Talking about the features of a few products, CITTA Co-founder Akanksha said that the brand offers a wide range of natural skincare products, including massage oil, talc-free powder, foaming shampoo and wash, and balm.

  • The massage oil contains 12 natural oils. The final product is non-sticky and has no fragrance compared to massage oils available in the market.
  • CITTA powder is formulated with oat flour and cornstarch and has no talc, providing a silkier texture and preventing sweating.
  • CITTA shampoo and wash use natural ingredients to prevent dryness in children, who tend to have drier skin than adults.
  • On the other hand, CITTA balm is a thicker alternative to moisturisers or creams, melting into the skin like an oil when massaged. It contains natural oils and ingredients like turmeric and basil, which help prevent rashes.
CITTA baby products
CITTA baby products

We didn’t create the balm with an agenda of curing eczema. However, many CITTA customers told us that the balm cured their baby’s eczema, which is very nice to hear. However, we don’t claim our balm to be a medicine for eczema,” explained the young entrepreneur, Akanksha.

The CITTA balm is one of the best-selling products. Akanksha calls it the ‘Hero product’, which is priced at Rs 1099.

CITTA’s beginning to now

With an initial investment of about Rs 1.5 crore, the mother-daughter duo launched CITTA’s line of products. Most of it went into product development, building digital sales channels and hiring 3-4 team members.

CITTA Team
CITTA Team

Initially, the brand launched five products, including massage oil, talc-free powder, foaming shampoo, and balm. Now, the brand has launched a few more products and combos.

The Pune-based startup initially sold its products through its official website; now, it has spread across e-commerce marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart, and a few other platforms. The brand has also ventured into retail and has a presence across Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

Venturing into retail for CITTA was a smooth process for Akanksha as she was assisted by his brother, Tanay Sharma. He came to India last year after finishing his studies at the University of Toronto and joined CITTA as a co-founder. He looks after the retail operations entirely and a lot of the logistics, too. Now, Akanksha has moved out into marketing and online sales.

Akanksha Sharma with Mom, Monisha Sharma and brother Tanay Sharma
Akanksha Sharma with Mom, Monisha Sharma and brother Tanay Sharma

When it comes to marketing strategies, the startup leverages digital marketing along with influencer marketing and collaborating with doctors to recommend the products to their visitors.

The brand also runs a podcast channel, inviting parents and experts to discuss everything related to skincare to create awareness.

Financial journey of CITTA 

Starting in April 2021, CITTA experienced slow growth, with around Rs 30 lakhs in sales between April and December. For the three consecutive years, FY-21, FY-22, and FY-23, the brand generated about Rs 70 lakh in revenue each year.

CITTA products are sold across three channels, and major sales come from retail sales, which is about 45%; its official website contributes to about 35% of sales, and the rest come from e-commerce marketplaces.

In the current fiscal year, we expect a 150% growth, with a target of above Rs.1.5 crore in revenue. In the next year, we expect 200% growth, with a target of Rs. 3-5 crore in revenue,” said the young entrepreneur, Akanksha, while discussing the brand’s targets.

Akanksha said the brand is soon launching adult skin care products, starting with body care and aiming for proper face skincare. It is also expanding its reach to more cities in India and international destinations through proliferating sales channels.

FAQs

What is the CITTA brand?

CITTA is a premium natural baby bath and skincare brand for babies, kids and adults, that embodies the ethos of consciousness and transparency with products that are natural, gentle, toxin-free, and formulated thoughtfully by blending Indian traditions #DadiNaniKeNuskhe with modern science using the highest standards of manufacturing practice. Loved by parents and recommended by doctors, CITTA is becoming the safest and most convenient partner in the parenthood journey across India. Their range includes moisturizing baby balm, massage oil, body wash, shampoo, talc-free baby powder, diaper rash cream and many more. 

Where is the CITTA brand based?

CITTA is a skin and bath care brand based in Pune, India.

Who are the co-founders of the CITTA brand?

Akanksha Sharma, Monisha Sharma and Tanay Sharma are the co-founders of the CITTA baby care brand.

Where can I find CITTA products to buy?

CITTA baby products can be found on its official website and in e-commerce marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart, Firstcry and others. 

What are the products the CITTA brand sells?

CITTA sells products made traditionally but backed by science, such as moisturisers, massage oil, body wash, talc-free baby powder, shampoo, diaper rashes cream and many more.