New Children’s Product Line from a Woman Entrepreneur
Akshata Nayak, creator and owner of ‘Little Patakha’ based in Vermont, recently won a national pitch competition organized by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Nayak’s ‘Little Patakha’ was selected from among 100 entries in the competition which was sponsored by The Walt Disney group and The ActOne group. WBENC is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the US and a leading advocate for women-owned businesses in corporate and government supply chains. Following this, Nayak also hosted the panel of Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) Women’s Economic Opportunity Conference.
Nayak, born and raised in Bangalore, India, has lived on the east coast of the US for 20 years, first in upstate New York getting her two masters’ in biochemistry and nutrition, then in Maine and now in Jericho, Vermont.
‘Little Patakha’, a new business launched in April of 2021 in the midst of the pandemic, has today become a unique children’s brand that offers books, games, puzzles and other media ‘to promote inclusion and shatter stereotypes’. It has published its first two easy to read phonetic based picture books on learning Konkani and Hindi languages for children and adults. There are also online links for the audio books and interactive educational means. Nayak said she started out with the two Indian language books since she had already been working on them, and launched ‘Little Patakha’ with those.
“Little Patakha started out as a twenty five dollar idea. I had created books for my daughter earlier and got them printed as gifts to her,” said Nayak. Nayak said she noticed there were not enough resources for language learning and culture introduction for the immigrants or people of color.
“Kids thrive on consistency,” Nayak said. “It helps them to know what to expect,” she said. ‘Little Patakha’ has its focus on promoting inclusion and shattering stereotypes, Nayak said, adding that the imagery will remain consistent for the children to recognize, get familiar with and develop an affinity to, and the themes would remain consistent about growing up in a world with people of all cultures and ethnicities, and genders.
Nayak said she found a great team in India among her friends and their connections, and also two printers she chose as most US printers also had overseas links. Today, ‘Little Patakha’ has onboard designer Anushree Chokappa and illustrator Yogita Chawdhary. The two print houses in Manipal and Hyderabad gave her the most reasonable pricing for her, the facility to print small amounts and working with her through the entire print process to match her requirements, she said.
The finished books have been well received and continue to be popular and are available in independent bookstores in Vermont, as well as on the website, LittlePatakha.com. Nayak started out with a special pre-order promotion. She said she was nervous in the beginning about the pre-orders as the books were new products, and she was not selling an already existing product. “I was overwhelmed with the support and confidence of the buyers,” Nayak said. “Within five days of launching, Little Patakha reached its pre-sale goal, and sold more than 200 products,” Nayak said.
“’Little Patakha”s new pre-order promotion is online, for the new products, a Jigsaw Puzzle and Affirmation Cards in English language which both “look beyond stereotypes, in an effort to improve the media that children are exposed to,” Nayak said. She said many people have been buying these as gifts for their grand children or as Christmas or birthday gifts for the children in their families. “We have pre-orders for close to 250 items,” Nayak said. She said she was reaching out to businesses to pre-order new products to donate to libraries. “It would be a great way to have a direct impact on diversity in children’s media,” she added.
‘Little Patakha’s future products would include new original books in more languages which are not common in the US and books on traditional folktales. Its new puzzle books would deal with racial, gender and other profession-oriented stereotypes, Nayak said. The future books would also include stories of ordinary people turned heroes during the pandemic, she said.
As an entrepreneur, Nayak is well grounded. She has three-year financial plans for ‘Little Patakha”s survival in place. ‘Little Patakha’ is meeting its sales goals and hopes to widen its product line and distribution in future, she said.