STORY: D. Aileen Dodd | PHOTOS: Sara Hanna
Divya Vaswani of Brookhaven was an expectant mother on a mission to design the perfect nursery. She searched malls and magazines for baby décor in vibrant hues that would give the room a splash of color. But all she found was muted pastels that gave her the baby blues.
“Kids react to colors,” says Vaswani, owner of baby bedding company Rajer Rabbit and manager of strategic operations at KIS (cubed) Events. “I felt like there was something missing in the décor market.”
Somewhere between late night feedings and diaper changes of her newborn, Rajer, Vaswani had a brainstorm that launched a budding new baby brand. She thought that surely she wasn’t the only mom who wanted a break from predictable pastel. In India, where her parents were born and she spent several summer vacations as a child, adults and children wear brilliant colors and patterns to mark celebratory occasions from wedding to births. That’s when it hit her: Why not use those exotic colors and patterns to adorn babies in the United States?
In 2013, Vaswani designed a line of muslin cotton blankets for swaddling and playtime inspired by her trips to India. Her line of “Rajer Rabbit” blankets are made with carved block prints and imported from India. They carry Hindi names like “Suraj,” which features dazzling patterns of the sun, and “Neela,” which has a blue denim look. Her line sold out on Zulilly.com in its first year.
Mariella Shepherd of Brookhaven purchased Vaswani’s entire collection of blankets for her 22-month-old son. “When she showed them to me, I fell in love with them,” Shepherd says. “I love the material. I love the design. Every blanket has meaning. The first blanket that I got was the one with the Indian elephants. I use it to cover the stroller, the car seat and the crib. It is very light.”
Shepherd, who is pregnant with a girl, said she is looking forward to swaddling her next baby in one of the nine imported blankets when she is born. “I have one in purple and gold.”
Vaswani has had requests to create everything from clothing to crib sheets. “It’s a proud moment when I see a baby swaddled in one of my blankets. I have had a lot of people ask me for adult size versions.”