Why this engineer decided to launch D2C silver jewellery startup GIVA

Built on the model of fine jewellery brands such as US-based Mejuri and Denmark-based Pandora, Bangalore-based D2C silver jewellery startup GIVA registered a 10X increase in sales amid COVID-19, last year.
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When Ishendra Agarwal entered the fine jewellery business in 2019, a few top brands such as Carat Lane, Bluestone, Melora, and others were operating in the space. Most of them offered fine gold jewellery to working women, but the price points were always usually steep. 

“We saw that women in the West could buy jewellery in the range of Rs 9,000-10,000. Why did Indian women have to spend so much money on fine jewellery?” says Ishendra, who went on to found Bangalore-based jewellery brand GIVA Jewellery in 2019. 

Most existing brands at that time offered fine jewellery made out of gold. Other existing options were artificial ornaments, which are not long-lasting and often lead to allergic reactions. 

“Gold is an expensive metal, which makes a purchase very expensive. Selling things online at higher price points is always difficult in India. We wanted to give people something that was luxurious, precious, and fine jewellery. That’s why we chose silver,” says the CEO and Founder. 

GIVA offers authentic yet affordable silver jewellery without compromising on quality. 

Getting started

Ishendra, an electrical engineer, founded his direct-to-consumer fine jewellery brand in 2019 with Nikita Prasad, a NIFT graduate jewellery designer, and former investment associate Sachin Shetty. 

Ishendra entered the jewellery business following in the footsteps of his family. The initial investment was Rs 10 lakh of his own money, with friends and family investing in their personal capacity.  

So far, the startup has raised $675,000 across various seed rounds between August 2019 and July 2020. Various investors, including India Quotient, Snapdeal’s Kunal Bahl, and ShareChat Co-founder Ankush Sachdeva, have invested in the firm. 

The firm offers earrings, necklaces, bracelets and pendants, among other products. Their average product pricing is between Rs 499 and Rs 3,999, with Rs 1,500 being the sweet spot, “where people buy most products”. 

The products are available online on the GIVA website and on marketplaces such as Amazon, Myntra, AJIO, Tata Cliq, Nykaa, and others. Orders can also be placed on call and WhatsApp. 

The jewellery startup claims that sales grew 10X in the financial year 2020-21, amid the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I think there were a few reasons behind the increase in sales. Gold had become much more expensive than silver. So people who could not afford gold opted for silver jewellery. As budgets tightened, more and more people looked for affordable options,” Ishendra says. 

The startup claims to have increased marketing spends by 20X from zero in 2019. 

The market and future 

The year 2020 saw a massive rise in online shopping. Amidst the pandemic and lockdowns, the only way people could shop was via online channels. Many established D2C brands, including Mamaearth, SUGAR Cosmetics, boAt Lifestyle, WOW Skin Science, Bewakoof, MCaffeine, and Wakefit, registered a mega growth in sales. 

A report by Avendus Capital on D2C brands in India states that the addressable market size for this industry will be $100 billion by 2025. The report adds there are 16 brands with $50 million ARR and 45 more with ARR of $15 million or more.

GIVA knows that the market is huge, and has launched a range of rings, toe rings and nose pins, personalised jewellery to keep up the growth momentum. It launches a new product line every week to keep the collection fresh and is working on a line of perfume.

Ishendra claims the startup’s tie-up with Neha Kakkar, one of Bollywood’s biggest singers, has also gained good response. Neha, with 57.4 million followers on Instagram and numerous chartbusting tracks to her name, influences a good chunk of their target audience. 

The collection, in collaboration with Neha, is priced slightly on the premium side. While the lowest price chain retails for Rs 1,049, the Neha Kakkar collection’s chain retails for Rs 1,699.  

GIVA competes with Tata’s CaratLane and Mia among others in the fine jewellery category. Apart from selling fine gold jewellery, CaratLane also sells silver and brass jewellery under their brand Shaya, starting at about Rs 1,700. 

This could be competition for GIVA, but people looking to buy in the Rs 500-2,000 price range might prefer shopping from GIVA.  

The founders are aiming to launch an app soon to reach customers where they spend the most time – on their phones. 

"At least 80 percent of our sales comes from our website and the rest from marketplaces,” Ishendra says. This helps the brand in keeping price points lower as they do not have to pay commissions to online marketplaces. 

Ishendra plans on adding more products to the existing range and collaborating with more celebrities for jewellery lines. “The plan is to build a strong jewellery brand and increase our customer base.” 

Edited by Teja Lele Desai