In a bid to make cancer patients feel more comfortable in their own skin, two teenage boys from Delhi have taken to fashioning caps and scarves for chemotherapy patients. But Samarth Nath (18) and Sarthak Nath (17) owe the start to this non-commercial endeavour to their nani (maternal grandmother).
The year was 2015 when Samarth and Sarthak’s nani was diagnosed with breast cancer and was advised to undergo chemotherapy. The brother duo saw their grandmother suffering due to the after-effects of chemotherapy and knew they needed to find a way to help her. Thus was born their social-venture – Chemo Caps.
Like many patients undergoing chemotherapy, Samarth’s nani also started losing hair, and the boys saw that it bothered her. Speaking to The Better India, Samarth says, that they were motivated to find the best solution to help their nani.
They looked around for means to cover her head, but caps available were of very poor quality and few and far between. “The ones available in the market were not made of a breathable material and often left the scalp itchy,” Samarth says. “All the good options had to be imported, took too long to reach us and were very expensive,” adds Sarthak.
For a while their nani used a dupatta to cover her head but that didn’t work very well as it would keep sliding off her head.
“It was a difficult time and to see her grapple with physical as well as emotional issues. We wanted to find a way to help her cover her head and feel good about herself,” Sarthak says.
“Our parents run a textile export business and there is always extra cloth that is left behind. So, we used those materials to make her a few caps,” says Samarth.
Birth of Chemo Caps
After working on a suitable option for a few months, in 2016, when the boys visited their nani in Nagpur, they went armed with a few designs of caps and scarves. “When she tried our caps, her reaction was priceless. She had finally found something that was breathable, felt good on her scalp, did not leave it red and itchy and stayed in place. All the work we put in was worth it and she was thrilled,” says Samarth.
Sarthak chimes in and says, “What was even more heartening was when she started asking for caps and scarves to match her outfits.”
Wanting to share this with others who were going through a similar issue, their nani took them to other women and the feedback that the boys took back was great. All they requested were for more colours to choose from, and the boys made as much as they could during their free time and sent them to her.
Unfortunately, their nani passed away in 2017 and it was just after her death that the boys decided to launch Chemo Caps, as a social venture to keep their nani’s memory alive.
A feather in their caps
During the initial days, the boys made and distributed caps to hospitals like AIIMS in Delhi and other hospitals in Nagpur. In the same year the boys launched their website and also started retailing their products. “Initially we were more focused on distributing these caps, we were not looking at making any money out of this venture,” says Samarth. Only recently they launched their website and have started charging for some of their caps from people who can afford to pay.
Regular cotton caps, scarves, and caps with knots are available on their website and the prices range from Rs 150 onwards. So far 400 caps have been sold via their website and more than 5000 caps and scarves have been distributed for free.
Sarthak says, “Other than paying Rs 500 to get a domain name for the website we have not spent anything. The cloth we use comes from the factory that our parents run and whatever sales has happened has been word of mouth, given that no money has been spent on any marketing or advertising.”
If you would like to make a purchase or place an order for distributing these caps to those in need, please reach out to the duo at – +91-9899700123 or e-mail them at email@example.com or click here to access their website.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)