MEEN VORA, Founder, KANKOTRI – a destination for customised wedding cards and gift options
To start with, tell us what your entrepreneurial venture “Kankotri” exactly is?
Our business involves creating differently themed wedding cards & wedding accessories, which entails long hours of interaction with clients & brain storming about innovative ideas for our products, effective planning for meeting deadlines And delivering huge quantities of wedding cards n accessories & keeping quality check on each piece.
Kankotri is a place where we have changed the definition of a wedding card! It is a place where we have done a complete makeover of wedding cards & accessories. A place where our own products are a competition to each other; a place where clients are welcomed with bundle of surprises while discussions till the final product is there in their hands.
Some of our clients include Rosy Blue Groups, Provogue, Ashutosh Gowariker, Manhar and Kajal Gadhia, prestigious doctors and most of the Palanpur Jain samaaj.
Tell us about your journey leading to the beginning of Kankotri?
I am genetically blessed with creativity. I was always a very good Art student in school and grew up listening and seeing Mum and Dad working and discussing creative ideas all the time.
I was very fixed about pursuing a career in Art & Design.
So immediately after school I did a course in ‘Foundation Art Diploma’ from Model Art Institute and also did a diploma in Jewellery Designing from JPDC.
I came third highest in jewellery designing course. My professor sent my designs to one of the leading diamond company Intergold (Rosy Blue Groups) where I was called for an interview. They were so impressed by my work that they immediately took me as am employee but as I was still a minor I had to wait for a year. I started working at an age of 18 at one of the most prestigious diamond Company! It was one of the best experiences of my life! Intergold gave me an excellent exposure at a very young age. After 3 years of work experience at Intergold my creative urges lead me to explore different dimensions of jewellery. I worked at Opera House as a full time jewellery designer and then as a freelance designer for another 3 years.
With an experience of almost 6 years under my belt I was enjoying every bit of it! Jus then came that ‘ah-ha’ moment which gave birth to KANKOTRI!
My parents were already in the business of wedding cards when an excellent opportunity knocked our door, because of which I decided to leave my jewellery job and plunged into the family business headlong, fulltime.
It was a huge wedding card order because of which we bought our own laser cutting and engraving machines which even made us the first ever wedding card manufacturers to have our own machines!
This particular wedding card became one of the biggest hits in the market! After this there has been no looking back in creating trendsetting designs.
These machines gave a completely different direction to Kankotri Creations and from there also began my personal journey from being a jewellery designer to an entrepreneur (as a wedding card, accessories and gift designer)
Now when I think about it I feel blessed by destiny!
What qualities are required for one to succeed in such a venture? What qualities did you yourself fall back upon for the same?
I feel it’s very important to realise your dreams and create your own path. If you strongly believe that you have it in you don’t be afraid of even flowing against the current.
As far as any creative field is concerned ‘patience’ is the key word.
In today’s times hard work as well as a very smart approach towards your goal is required.
With sincerity & persistence, with a clear vision of your goals & awareness of related markets one can definitely achieve high in life.
What has been your USP in making Kankotri succeed?
Kankotri is all about innovation, creativity at its best, quality of par excellence and best possible service to our clients.
Our team involves my father Mr. Rajesh Vora, mother Mrs. Neha Vora and myself.
We have a very cooperative, efficient as well as creative staff without which our firm wouldn’t have reached where it has today!
We three are a great team and as we are family it definitely becomes an added advantage.
Kankotri serves a special class of clientele who gives us a certain level of freedom as far as budget is concerned & utmost cooperation as far as the time span is concerned for deliveries of products.
Kankotri serves a clientele, where dream weddings, “the big fat Indian weddings” as they are called, turn into reality.
What challenges did you face along the way to making this venture succeed? How did you overcome them?
I was from Jewellery background. The biggest challenge that I faced was switching from Jewellery to a completely different aspect of creativity. I was always into conceptual designing and knew nothing about machines and technicalities involved. With my parents support I took up the challenge to understand every detail of laser machines and today I can operate as well as understand everything about these machines without finding it difficult. Our creations are now usually based on involving some aspect of laser work in it which makes them different from others.
Jewellery was my first love, so it was a tough decision to completely leave it, which I had to, to achieve utmost perfection. Initially it used to be very difficult for me to operate machines and understand about business approaches; now I feel very satisfied as I have gradually grown from an employee to an entrepreneur. I have seen both sides of the coin which helps me in every aspect of my career. There even came a time where I started questioning my decision of quitting my field for business, but with the best support in the world, who can fail!?
I achieved expertise in understanding the language of machines and learnt to design software during the recession period which had affected the artistic field as well. In my 6 years of Jewellery designing I have never come across any machine or computer that has not been of frequent use to me. So the entire switching procedure was very challenging indeed.
Which have been some of the most memorable milestones in this journey of yours so far?
All our creations are milestones! Every creation is a combination of technical & creative excellence. It raises many eyeballs as it is unbelievable how we manage to achieve every piece with perfection, as our creations involve too much detailing in designing as well as the material usage, so churning out designer pieces in mass production with utmost perfection is also one of the USPs of Kankotri.
If I have to talk about one, than I would definitely talk about a wedding card based on Mysore Palace theme which included 10 other wedding accessories.
We had almost 6 months to complete 2000 wedding cards as well as different quantities of wedding accessories along with it. Each card, which was made using wood, cardboard, art papers and textured cloth, took 2 hours on laser! I worked for almost 21 hours every day….it was the toughest creation and we lived up to the expectations of our client without any complaints.
The range of our wedding cards starts from Rs. 150 per card to as much as one wants them to stretch their creative imagination and depending upon what other accessories one would prefer to go with the invitation card.
The latest addition is an invitation for a theme party based on Casino, as shown in pictures below. The front of the wooden box opens sideways to reveal invitation for the party and two specially designed decks of cards.
What have you learnt about yourself and entrepreneurship in this journey so far?
I feel fortunate to be creative, as there is no limit to creativity! With new ideas and goals taking birth within me everyday, I am all the time looking forward to sharing them with the world.
Did you, at ever point, regret your decision of stepping into an entrepreneurial venture? Did you ever feel that you would have been better in a predictable, routine 9-to-5 job?
When I stepped out in the world I was young, naive & full of enthusiasm to satisfy my creative thirst. Well, while my journey I did face situations where things got really hard and I felt like quitting. During my Jewellery days it was tough to handle office politics and somehow after a point I started getting stagnant and started getting bored by the 9-to-5 job concept. That’s when I decided to branch out as a freelancer and then the brilliant business opportunity changed my life!
So there are absolutely no regrets! I feel sometimes it’s important to take chances and look beyond your comfort zone.
What success mantra will you give for those who would want to follow in your footsteps?
Realise your dreams and have the guts to flow against the current.
What are your future plans?
The next dream on the cards (pun intended) is excelling in the field of different and innovative boxes as well as gift products of all kinds. We are into R&D. of creating very innovative gift products and all kinds of boxes. The aim is to make a mark in the world of gifting and giving a global recognition to Kankotri. I dream of the day when Kankotri will be called as ‘the’ place to go to for the best quality gifting products and customised wedding cards of India.
-as told to RESHMA S KULKARNI