Ever been in that situation where you travel to Sri Lanka for a week or two with kids and you can’t lug a car seat or two with you while flying. Or the time when you’ve got a big trip planned and the stroller decides to come apart and you’ve got no time (or budget) to find a really sturdy one? If you’ve been there and done it, then you’re sure to breathe a sigh of relief when someone says you can rent kids equipment! Salt.lk caught up with Shalini Jothiraja, founder of PodiKade which focuses on kids equipment rentals and spoke about how she does it all.
What is the story behind PodiKade, how did you start off and how do you manage it today and what makes it so unique?
I started off as a retail business in 2014 and soon after I got pregnant with my son, I switched to baby rentals in 2017 due to the workload and demand from many parents who didn’t want to buy equipment for a short period and were looking at renting. Locally owned and operated, Podi Kade is a family business, so my family and myself are heavily involved also not to forget that all the products are tested and approved by my 2 year old son!! We at PodiKade, rent everything you need to have the comforts of home while traveling. We have a range of products which you could select from, such as full size travel cribs, strollers, car seats etc. What makes us unique is that all our products are from very well reputed international brands and we rent them out for the lowest price a person could ever imagine..!! Also the cleanliness of our products are our top priority! Therefore, our products are meticulously inspected, cleaned and sanitized before each rental.
Where did the idea of PodiKade come about?
As I am the only child in my family, I was very fond of doll and there accessories. I used to order strollers, cloth and feeding equipment for my toy dolls and look after them as real babies. As I grew up my fondness for babies and baby items still remain the same and once I got married I started up a baby gear business named PodiKade. I used to get stuff from abroad and sell them, but once I got pregnant with my own little bundle of joy, it was very difficult for me to go clear stuff from the relevant authorities, hence I started renting out the stuff I had, I started off very small with just one car seat and one travel cot and business started to boom like crazy and I was having difficulty in renting stuff out. So finally managed to bring more items down from abroad and now we have expanded from one car seat to about 15 car seats and from one crib to 4 cots.
Did you foresee yourself becoming an entrepreneur or was that the plan along?
Never thought or saw myself going towards being an entrepreneur, because I have my own career as full time designer and stared PodiKade as my side business, but now it just brings me so much joy to see how I help tourists as well as locals to have a hassle free vacation.
What are the issues you’ve faced running PodiKade?
I’ve had many issues that I faced, especially when people make a deposit and pre book items during the season and then cancel the order last minute. I’ve had so many more issues and I could honestly write a whole book!
Any memorable client stories or memorable places your items have gone?
Oh well I’ve got back many memorable items with my baby gear such as tiny shoes, blankies, toys etc. But stories wise I’ve got a lot of positive feedback from almost all my clients who have rented from PodiKade and also I love the fact that I get to meet tiny little humans almost every day. I just love babies.
I have no idea where my baby gear travels to, but I hope they enjoy the ride.
You did say you work, how do you balance motherhood, work and the side hustle?
Well I do work at a reputed company as a designer and all I can say is I multitask between everything, but I make sure I give first priority to my son!. Since it’s an online business, I mainly do all my business on the phone, making sure I personally meet my clients after office hours.
Any tips for entrepreneurs wanting to start a side hustle?
It’s all about time management and multitasking! You should know what to give priority to and juggle the rest of your life!! I find the side hustle fun and it keeps my stress away from work life as well.
What might the future of rentals for child equipment look like and what plans does PodiKade have?
Since the number of expats are increasing in Sri Lanka, the demand for baby rentals will certainly go up, and we at PodiKade will ensure to cater to their demand, because we give the best brands, maintaining the highest quality, for the lowest price a person could ever imagine!
PodiKade seems perfect if you’re travelling light, have many kids and can’t travel with their gear or if you don’t want to buy gear when on holiday for a short period. For all those podi adventures, PodiKade is the perfect place for all your child gear rental needs, we can guarantee that.