Sukriti Jiwarajka launched her startup with the idea of introducing the Indian customer to superior writing journals.
There is something therapeutic, almost magical, about writing on paper. And it was in this magical world that 26-year-old Sukriti Jiwarajka found her calling. A student of economics and a finance major from Singapore Management University, she set up Chambers of Ink in September 2016 in an effort to bring back the romanticism of writing with a collection of beautiful writing journals.
A self-confessed stationery addict, Sukriti says, "Good quality stationery is my most prized possession and a preferred gifting option. I feel that I process my thoughts better when I am writing on paper. I don't think it brings out the best in me when I am typing out my thoughts on screen. This is true about many of us, despite the advent of digital technology, which has changed our writing habits forever. Paper, on the other hand, is more personal and high on comfort."
Speaking about her journey from working with organisations like AssetVantage Systems, Mumbai, Unilever Asia, Singapore, and Grameen Bank, Dhaka, to launching Chambers of Ink, Sukriti says, "It was sometime last year that a friend got me a Paperblanks journal from her trip to Ireland. The journal, in silver filigree, had grooves etched on silver paper. It was not only stunning, but was also made of very high quality writing paper. What intrigued me was the last page, which had a story about the cover on it, which told me that it was an original German handcrafted design from the 1800s - that got me thinking. I was holding a piece of an engaging story, and to top it all off, it was practical to use as well. It made me wonder about the limited presence of similar products on Indian store shelves."
This thought set the ball rolling, and Sukriti started working on the idea of introducing the Indian customer to superior writing journals early this year.
Sukriti approached Paperblanks formally to get them to India, and also started working on creating an exclusive marketplace for fine quality stationery brands that are not available in the country. She says,
"India is all about design and craftsmanship. We have so many talented designers who are creating beautiful designs, but unfortunately, they are not able to market themselves. I want to sincerely harness their creativity and provide them with an effective online presence along with a marketing backup."
High on energy, Chambers of Ink formally launched its online store in September, and has already tied up with the world-renowned Paperblanks, Paper-Oh, Hartley and Marks’ quality range of notebooks, diaries and journals, and is in talks with other well-known brands across the globe. Besides entering into these partnerships, Chambers of Ink has also launched its own range of journals as well.
Chambers of Ink products are created by trained designers who appreciate the rich artistic history of world culture, using acid-free, sustainable forest paper and 100 percent recycled binder boards. The journals, inspired by past eras, include themes from contemporary paintings and history.
As one browses the e-store, one comes across a beautiful journal with Mahatma Gandhi's handwritten note of his thoughts a day before he began the historic Dandi March. On being asked, Sukriti reveals, “We go to great lengths to produce a unique journal for our customers. In this case, the handwritten note was acquired and copyrighted by Paperblanks and then reproduced on the journals. Similarly, we have a journal that has Bach's music sheet on the cover. Each journal includes the story of the cover, and it is like holding a piece of history in our hands."
Speaking further about her startup that now has a five-member team, Sukriti says,
"We have entered a space that is virtually untouched in India. Chambers of Ink is a pioneer brand that promotes writing as a culture and fine stationery as a way of life. We are the only company building a marketplace with a unique mix of the best foreign and local brands, around high quality design-conscious stationery."
She continues, "The whole idea about convincing the world about writing with hand and the importance and efficiency of fine stationery has been a challenging process. People are used to Rs-50 pads to scribble on, but writing and ideating on our journals is a different experience. It's both fun and challenging to convert people, but once they are on, they never go back."
“I believe we carry stationery as an extension to our personality, and every little detail, like the pen that we use to write, the journal we write in and even related accessories, says a lot about us. In other countries, the quality of gift wrappers is equivalent to the gift itself, while the same is highly underrated in India. Keeping that in mind, we are currently working on expanding our product portfolio, and will include planners, pens and wrapping papers. In fact, we are in talks with a couple of Japanese companies for their wide range of beautiful pens and expect to launch them on our portal in the next few months”, says Sukriti.
In order to revive the art of maintaining journals, Delhi-based Chambers of Ink, besides having an online presence, is spreading its wings by partnering with physical stores like Full Circle bookshops and William Penn. It is also in talks with other lifestyle and book stores that have a multi-city presence. Only a few months into the business, Sukriti has gained many a follower.
Bootstrapped at the moment, she is conscious of the expenses and is not burning cash on marketing or customer acquisition. Most of the sales generation happens organically and through word of mouth. She remembers one lady who bought her first writing journal from the website and has now practically gifted a journal to everyone in her circle of family and friends. Here is to more handwritten history!