[Startup Bharat] How this 25-year-old roped in Gauri Khan to make quality home decor accessible in small towns
India is one of the fastest growing markets for home furnishing products in the Asia-Pacific region. Homebuyer trends have evolved in terms of taste and preferences, especially in mini-metros and smaller towns and cities. However, these cities have limited access to newer trends and a market that is highly fragmented.
This, coupled with the rise in demand for affordable home décor, pushed 25-year old Pranjal Agrawal to start ain 2018.
Kota-based Hèrmosa Design Studio caters to the luxury and modular furniture market in Tier II markets of India.
Pranjal Agrawal, CEO and Founder of Hermosa Design Studio | Image Source: Team Hermosa
“Given the furniture ecosystem in Tier II cities, I believe consumers often find themselves compromising on one of the three important pillars when purchasing furniture -- price, durability, and design. We plan to address this gap,” says Pranjal, in an interaction with YourStory.
Hèrmosa recently collaborated with designer Gauri Khan and plans to launch a new collection soon.
In the beginning
Pranjal, a banking graduate from Jai Hind College in Mumbai, returned to his hometown to cater to design needs of consumers in Tier II cities. “When I was first venturing out, my aim was to do meaningful projects,” he says.
His high school, Modern School in Kota, was opening a new branch and Pranjal saw this as an opportunity. He approached the school with a proposal from Hèrmosa and they accepted the offer. “It was a moment of honour and pride for me to be able to go back to my alma mater...I did the office spaces with furniture from our collection,” he says.
Two years down the road, Hèrmosa, which means ‘beautiful’ in Spanish, grew from a boutique store to a two lakh square foot experience centre. The team now has more than 200 employees.
The Hermosa Design Studio experience centre in Kota | Image Source: Team Hermosa
Focus on design and quality
Hèrmosa offers quality standardised and customisable furniture, made to measure from 100 percent solid wood. “Our pieces are not only functional, but also cognisant of space constraints,” Pranjal explains.
Hèrmosa’s collection includes home and office decor. It makes high-design sofa sets, side tables, beds, TV units, cupboards, dressing tables, coffee tables, computer tables, chairs, storage cabinets, among others.
The furniture startup earlier focused on straight-line furniture. However, its entire collection is now made of Acacia wood sourced from Rajasthan. It also has an upholstery and a metal line.
It designs and manufactures in-house; all products are completely made in India. The pieces are manufactured in its factory in Kota.“Traditional craftsmanship is paired with creative, contemporary designs to bring the products to life,” Pranjal says.
The design startup caters to residential, institutional, and commercial sectors. While the prices vary from piece to piece, on an average, furniture and home decor accessories start from Rs 500 and can go higher than Rs 1 lakh.
“The B2B market is changing and growing at a rapid pace and for Hèrmosa, this is an opportunity to strengthen the business models and rapidly build on partnerships, besides the existing B2C model,” Pranjal says.
Keeping this in mind, the design startup has been catering to commercial and institutional clients. It has associated with co-living brands Nestaway’s Hello World, Housr, and Svenska Hotels to provide living solutions.
Post its launch in 2018, Hèrmosa partnered with fashion designer Nikhil Thampi to create a collection inspired by Nikhil’s signature style. This year, the startup collaborated with Gauri Khan.
“This is in line with my vision for Hèrmosa to give our customers in mini metros and towns premium design-led furniture with durability at affordable prices,” Pranjal says.
Hermosa has collaborated with designer Gauri Khan to launch a line of furniture | Image Source: Team Hermosa
The collaborative line of furniture with Gauri will be launched soon.
Gauri Khan says, “I’m excited to work closely with the finest minds at Hèrmosa Design Studio and create a line incorporating our unique design philosophies, which complement each other in the best way possible. I can’t wait to watch every piece come to life with the one-of-a-kind workmanship that can only be found at Hèrmosa.”
18 pc growth in two years
Clients can purchase Hèrmosa’s products directly from its retail store. “We have plans to launch our website and enter the ecommerce furniture market soon,” Pranjal says
Hèrmosa has serviced thousands of B2C and B2B clients in the last two years. It generated revenue worth Rs 12.8 crore last year. The business has grown by 18 percent in the last two years, with a 4x increase in production.
Pranjal says he has been working on developing a comprehensive revenue model for the company, aiming for 40 percent revenue from ecommerce industry, 20 percent from retail, and the remaining 40 percent from B2B and exports. He is eyeing annual revenue of Rs 75-100 crore in the next three years.
Hèrmosa’s business was adversely affected by the pandemic and the retail store was shut for two months. However, the startup did not announce any COVID-19-related job or salary cuts.
Products on display at Hermosa Design Studio | Image Source: team Hermosa
The interior designing business
According to Allied Market Research, the global home decor market was valued at $616.6 billion in 2019 and was expected to reach $838.6 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 3.9 percent.
Players like LivSpace, HomeLane, Bonito Designs, Spacejoy, and Infurnia have recently caught investor attention. However, Hèrmosa feels it has a differentiator to offer.
“Every piece at Hèrmosa feels one of its kind and made to measure. Given this, the USP of our brand is that every piece is customisable, depending on the budget and fittings required,” Pranjal says.
Being based out of a Tier II town turned out to be more of a boon than a bane for Hèrmosa.
“Instead of seeing it as a challenge, we have embraced the mini-metro market. Taking advantage of the fact that not many furniture brands are operating in Tier II cities and even rare are design-centric ones, we have made a name for ourselves and created brand loyalty,” Pranjal explains.
Bootstrapped since inception, Hèrmosa is now working on building a proof of concept and plans to reach out to investors for funding soon.