[Startup Bharat] This 24-year-old entrepreneur from Kochi offers premium handcrafted jewellery at affordable prices
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Indian fashion jewellery? Perhaps a gold set? However, the industry has evolved over the years. Original diamond and gold jewellery have now made a way for artificial jewellery to rule the marketplace.
Reports suggest that the imitation jewellery market in India is estimated to reach Rs 656.2 billion by the end of 2022 due to rising demand.
Realising the increase in demand for artificial jewellery, especially among the youth, many entrepreneurs have started a business in manufacturing, crafting and selling artificial jewellery.
One such entrepreneur is Kochi-based Neeta Vijay Kumar who believes that handcrafted jewellery in India is often downplayed. Her startup Stardom Accessories promotes and sells handcrafted or handmade jewellery procured directly from the craftsmen in Jaipur and Delhi.
“People usually buy jewellery without realising the value or the effort that goes behind making it. I believe that this aspect of people should change. One should know the value and story behind the jewellery before buying it. My brand talks about the jewellery culture of India through the unique designs that we provide,” the 24-year-old entrepreneur tells YourStory.
Neeta has always been passionate about fashion. Her entrepreneurial journey began in college when she started making and selling jewellery to her friends and classmates.
“I was self-trained with no prior experience in making jewellery. I just followed my passion. As my business grew, I began to slowly hire craftsmen from Jaipur and Delhi,” she says.
Though she worked as a content marketer in a startup after college, she had always wanted to start something of her own and carve her own identity.
She researched about the fashion and accessories market in India, realising that the jewellery culture was very vibrant and that it was possible to sell unique pieces in this domain.
After a lot of trial and error, she zeroed in on a business model, hired distributors and craftsmen, and started Stardom Accessories in 2018.
“I like to portray the jewellery culture of India – handmade, handcrafted and oxidised jewellery – through my brand and give it significance and voice,” says Neeta, adding that her clients often ask her about how she designs and manufactures the jewellery.
India’s gems and jewellery sector is one of the largest in the world, contributing 29 percent to global jewellery consumption. Its market size is expected to grow by $103.06 billion during 2019-2023, according to IBEF.
However, Neeta claims that her startup holds a unique place in the market as her products are completely handcrafted by real craftsmen and are properly curated. She also says that her startup is targeting a niche audience.
“A regular shopper may not like my product. It is not a brand that just anyone will love. People who have an eye for jewellery, value the concept or the art of jewellery culture in India, and the history of craftsman will be more interested in my jewellery.”
According to Neeta, the startup offers affordable premium products. Its products start from a base price of Rs 300 and sell majorly through its social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
The platform is mostly known for its earrings and chains. Apart from this, it also sells all kinds of rings. Till now Stardom has fulfilled more than 500 orders – selling about 15-25 jewellery pieces every month.
Stardom competes with the likes of local handmade brands as well as with the popular jewellery brands such as Ayesha and Voylla.
Craftsmen to customers
The craftsmen design and manufacture the jewellery pieces, which are then selected and curated by Stardom to sell under its brand.
Neeta says that she makes a conscious effort to not select common designs. The platform also makes personalised or customised products for its clients.
Once ordered, the product is shipped and delivered to anywhere in India within a week.
A team of three people, Stardom takes about 30 percent of the cost margin. The rest is taken by the craftsmen and distributors.
Neeta says: “I don’t need to pay the handcrafting people. I just need to purchase it as per the order. Since I don’t have stock as such, I will never go in a loss,” adding that her startup gets 30-40 percent profit margin every month.
Bootstrapped so far, the team is in talks with investors. Going ahead, Stardom Accessories wants its brand to reach more people and wishes to expand its umbrella of products and sources.