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Doctor Turns Entrepreneur With Handcrafted Fabric Toys, Earns Rs 15 Lakhs & Celeb Fans

Chandigarh's Dr Shweta Gupta runs Little Llama to sell eco-friendly fabric toys that have made celebrities – including Sonam Kapoor, Soha Ali Khan, and Neha Dhupia, – her fans!

Doctor Turns Entrepreneur With Handcrafted Fabric Toys, Earns Rs 15 Lakhs & Celeb Fans

Back in medical college, the prescriptions written by Dr Shweta Gupta would leave anyone stunned – from her patients to her seniors.

“Once, my senior doctors from different departments called me. I was so nervous. I wondered if I had committed any mistake in the work. Later, I found out that they wanted to check my handwriting,” she tells The Better India.

“While seniors complimented me for clean and appealing handwriting, patients doubted my degree,” laughs Shweta, who has always been complimented for her handwriting since childhood.

Nearly a decade later, this creativity encouraged her to become an entrepreneur.

Today, she handcrafts fabric toys that have made celebrities including Sonam Kapoor, Soha Ali Khan, and Neha Dhupia, her fans!

Dr Shweta handcrafts toys for children in the age-group of 0-12 years.
Dr Shweta handcrafts toys for children in the age-group of 0-12 years.

In 2022, the Chandigarh-resident launched her startup Little Llama that has so far catered to at least 300 orders and have made it to children’s toy collections across the country.

Her niece was her inspiration

In 2012, Dr Shweta completed her MBBS and went to work with the Gurugram-based Medanta hospital as a diabetologist.

Before her marriage in 2018, an incident pushed her to pursue her long-lost childhood passion when she was in search of unique dolls for her niece.

“I wanted to gift her good quality dolls. All that was available in the Indian markets were the same old barbie dolls that I myself grew up playing with. They also have a plastic body and synthetic hair fibre. These are not good for the health of the babies,” says the 35-year-old.

“I found some unique handcrafted dolls in the European markets but importing them was an expensive affair. The doll, along with the shipping charges, would have cost me Rs 10,000. This did not seem like a very good idea,” she adds.

Priced between Rs 700 and Rs 4,000, Dr Shweta sells handcrafted dolls and ‘Jungle Animals’.
Priced between Rs 700 and Rs 4,000, Dr Shweta sells handcrafted dolls and ‘Jungle Animals’.

Instead of buying the dolls from abroad, Dr Shweta sat down to craft a one-of-its-kind doll on her own. “I bought wool and a biodegradable yet expensive linen fabric to make the doll. I sketched a design and it took me about twenty days to complete the doll. It is very intrinsic work that requires detailing facial features,” she says.

Dr Shweta says that her niece, Gauravi, loved her unique doll. “My niece still has it,” she smiles. “Besides her, everyone loved the doll. It was different from what they see in the market. As we were getting a great response and a good demand for the dolls, my husband encouraged me to make more such dolls,” she adds.

This gave her an idea to start a brand of her own and soon she launched, Little Llama.

Making eco-friendly ‘jungle’ animals

Currently, Dr Shweta handcrafts toys for children in the age-group of 0-12 years keeping their health and sustainability centric to the brand. “Instead of using plastic and chemical paints, I have designed these toys using colourful wool. Their limbs, eyes, hair…everything is made from wool. I dress them with linen fabric. And I crochet flowers to make the dolls look visually appealing. It is harmless for babies who usually try to put anything they get in their mouth,” she adds.

But learning to handcrafting these toys, Dr Shweta says, was more difficult than even getting her medicine degree. “I watched several videos to learn how to make such dolls. Even manufacturing them can be cumbersome – from designing them on paper to actually making them with different features, dresses, unique colour combinations. Sometimes, I felt doing MBBS was much easier,” she laughs.

Priced between Rs 700 and Rs 4,000, Dr Shweta sells handcrafted dolls and ‘Jungle Animals’, birthday buntings, and more. In the past one year of commercialisation, she has been able to clock a revenue of Rs 15 lakhs with her startup.

One of her regular customers, Amanbir Kaur, has been buying the toys for her new mom friends. “These toys make a perfect gift as they are eco-friendly, sustainable and the way they are designed is adorable. I love their collection of Jungle Animals, which look cute and not scary. The babies seemed to be loving the toys. I keep going back to Little Llama to customise gifts for me,” she tells The Better India.

With these toys, Dr Shweta has made celebrities including Sonam Kapoor, Soha Ali Khan, and Neha Dhupia, her fans!
With these toys, Dr Shweta has made celebrities her fans, including Sonam Kapoor, Soha Ali Khan, and Neha Dhupia.

Dr Shweta’s toys have also been endorsed over Instagram by several celebrities including Aparshakti Khurana, Gauhar Khan, and Nakuul Mehta.

While Dr Shweta has earned immense recognition and appreciation for her work, the transition from being a doctor to an entrepreneur was not welcomed by many of her relatives. 

“Of course, being a doctor is very prestigious. And people had their concerns. They would tell my parents that I could have done better. Of course, there are days when I do not get orders and I also doubt myself. But the very next day I am up with new energy and grateful for my current job that evolves me as a creative person. The compliments boost me again,” she adds.

Edited by Padmashree Pande. All photos: Dr Shweta Gupta.

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