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Neeta Tvelil Takes Tottels Into The Marketplace

This nurse turned entrepreneur was sick of picking up towels in the bathroom, so she decided to do something about it. Now she makes Tottels, towels for tots.

tottles1Surgical nurse Neeta Tvelil said she was tired of picking up towels from the bathroom floor. She had three sons within five years and needed to cut down her pickup time and laundry.

“I also wanted to make the process of hand washing easy and fun for the kids,” Tvelil said.

She wanted a kid-friendly hand towel that would stay on the towel rack – Tottels, towels for tots, was born. Tvelil, 40, and her husband financed the product themselves and in June 2014 announced its release. They currently have a patent pending on the design, which comes in three styles and offers adjustable snap buttons to help ensure that the towel is always within reach to children of any size.

Though Tottels is based in Chicago, it is manufactured in Mumbai, India. Tvelil said the production process was a huge learning curve. “Manufacturing has been costly, especially if you count the bad experience we had working with a manufacturer in China, but all of that was a learning experience,” she said. “The patenting process was another added cost. People do not make these kinds of investments if they don’t believe in their product. We really believe ours will make a difference in peoples’ daily lives.”

She has been getting traction, with sales underway on their tottels.com website, on amazon.com and at a local children’s boutique in Chicago. Tvelil added that at this point, “most of our revenue goes back into the business and marketing.”

She has chosen a great time to enter the market. The children’s clothing industry is expected to hit $173.6 billion by 2017, according to companyandmarkets.com. The report explained that the global market for infant and toddler wear is “a perfect case of a market totally unaffected by new trends in the fashion-oriented adult apparel industry. The segment, unfazed by economic dynamics, is set to rush ahead as the fastest growing market at a healthy CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 4.2 percent through to 2017.” Which means as much as it is successful, it is competitive.

Neeta Tvelil
Neeta Tvelil

“I do think it is tough to break into this industry. There is a lot of competition and also some great moms with fantastic products,” Tvelil said. “You really have to prove there is the need for your product. With a background in surgical nursing, I am still learning the ropes in business and marketing, which makes it more challenging. So far, people are loving our product as it really is an instant solution to the problem of towels not returning to the towel rod. It also promotes hand washing in our little ones and makes it fun. Knowing all of this keeps me motivated.”

Reviews on the product have been positive. TheGiggleGuide.com, an online destination for information related to today’s children’s marketplace, had this to say about the product, “The Tottels towel has instantly solved the problem of wet towels lying in a bundle on the floor gathering germs and mold. The product promotes good hygiene and responsibility by making it easy to keep the towel attached to the rack and off the floor.”

“We are currently working on more designs. We really value our feedback and have had many requests for kitchen designs and colors and designs that appeal to a wider age range. We plan to exhibit at trade shows this year such as the ABC Kids Expo. We also have plans to increase our marketing and social media presence,” Tvelil added.

For more on Tottels, check out the video below:

About the author

Natasha Zena

Around age eight Natasha Zena was told it was a woman’s job to take care of the home and since then she has built a career out of telling women they can do whatever the hell they want to do. She is the co-founder of Lioness, the digital magazine for female entrepreneurs, and the first media outlet solely dedicated to helping women launch and scale high-growth startups. Natasha was recognized as an emerging leader in digital media by The Poynter Institute and the National Association of Black Journalists. She has mentored women entrepreneurs at a number of accelerators, Startup Weekends and conferences, including The Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco, Calif. Natasha is also the author of the popular whitepaper, "How To Close The Gender Gap In Startup Land By 2021." In her spare time, she writes short fiction and hangs out with her son, Shaun.

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