Chikankari is a textile art form specific to Lucknow that flourished under the Mughals in India. The embroidery style dates back to Nur Jahan and one ambitious entrepreneur hopes to revive its glory not only in India but also internationally through eTailing. Chikankari is a hand embroidered style that requires a lot of attention to detail and is performed traditionally on muslin, silk, chiffon, etc. Through www.shaaneawadh.com, which made its official debut on May 2nd the globe are able to purchase this style of clothing that is almost only available in Lucknow. Rupesh Agarwal talks to YourStory about his journey, from growing up in a middle class family to quitting his job in order to create a global customer base for his Lucknow-based family-owned business. 2014, people all over.
What impact did your family have on you?
I am from Lucknow and have been born and brought up in Lucknow in a middle class family. My father has worked hard to make us who we are in terms of education and life values. We have a Chikankari shop in Chowk area, Lucknow called Shivan Chikan Ugvog. Chikankari is my family business and with Shaan-e-Awadh, I want to give back to Chikankari what it has given my family and me.
What led to the idea of Shaan-e-Awadh?
I am a web developer by profession with an overall experience of over seven and a half years and having handled over 75 web projects, including over 30 e- commerce sites. I did not see any other venture in the business of online Chikankari conducting it in a proper way, with eTailing (e+retailing) as their primary goal. This is what separates me from the others. Chikankari is all handwork; hence, the major drawback is that often, it is almost impossible to purchase a piece similar to a previous one. So the scenario that emerges is that there are many different thread weaved designs of the same item or pattern, which is very difficult to depict online. I want to reduce this as much as possible and intend to provide the customers with exactly what they see in catalog images, and achieve the same impression over 90% of the time.
Currently, what are you selling? How are you managing the supply chain?
I am based in Lucknow and I’m selling Lucknow Chikankari items, specifically shirts, kurtas and pajamas, ladies kurtis and pajamas, bed sheets and table covers, to start with. The other important factor is the sizing and I have a proper size guide with each item because in Chikankari similar items do not have similar sizes. Bed sheets and table covers are a rare find in Chikankari. I want to do something for this historic Chikankari art and my city Lucknow, and in the process contribute my share towards my country by making a mark globally. I currently buy products from known sources, but I also plan to manufacture items myself in the future as per the response I get from users and the sales.
What differentiates you from your competitors?
Customers buying from me will get what they see in the catalog images, more than 90% of the time, and with proper sizes as shown on the product page. Shaan- e-Awadh also offers genuine pricing with attractive discount offers and proper packaging to keep goods safe while shipping. We only list genuine quality products even if they are on the higher side in terms of pricing. Weight based shipping rates to keep it as minimum as possible and delivering products within 7 days of the order to most locations in India. There is also an option for international shipping if you want to buy products in India but ship to your friends and family living abroad. We also have a refund policy for defective items, if any at all.
What is the plan moving forward? What can we expect from you in the coming months?
I plan to have cash on Delivery so that people in India can have more buying options as per their convenience. I plan to expand my catalog with items like saris and dress material, and add more variety to existing items. I am also awaiting approval for accepting international payments, in order to go global with my site and sell products worldwide. I also plan to improve the website in terms of design, performance, and improved catalog images as we grow, as this requires some extra budget.