[Startup Bharat] This Mohali startup aims to rejuvenate your space with its unique home decor products

Mohali-based Whispering Homes offers over 1,400 luxury home decor items, including dried flowers, furnishings, artwork, etc., priced between Rs 399 and 80,000.
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The growing prominence of remote working called for an aesthetically relaxed and lively environment. As people stayed home, they opted to revamp their living spaces with unique and affordable home decors.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the home living space became the most integral part of everyone’s lives. I started this company to make homes more vibrant, given now we spend most of our day in our homes. We aim to make luxurious items affordable and reach more people,” says Ashima Singla, who started something of her own inspired by her father, also a businessman. 

“A lot of these efforts were DIY, and people were looking for something out of the ordinary. We tried to figure out the choices of people indulging in in-home styling and devised various ideas to introduce the luxurious home decor genre online,” says Ashima, Founder and CEO, Whispering Homes.

Launched in 2021, Mohali-based Whispering Homes offers luxury home decor items, including dried flowers, pampas grass, furnishings, artwork, exclusive lamps, ceramic vases, temple ginger jars collections, etc.

Its in-house research team helps the startup identify the latest trends to keep up in the market. 

How it works?

Whispering Homes wants to be the one-stop shop for all things related to decor. Besides curating products, it acts as a marketplace and sales partner for small businesses and a sourcing partner for interior designers and architects. 

Ashima says, “The products on our website are high quality and priced reasonably with the idea to help our customers afford luxurious decor items keeping in mind the latest trend across the globe.”

Whispering Homes operates two business models: an inventory-based and a marketplace for small businesses. 

“The inventory-based business model helps us ensure product authenticity and follow competitive pricing. Home decor is our singular focus, and it is all about connecting customers and businesses with exclusively-designed products,” tells Ashima.

To date, Whispering Homes has served over 3,200 customers across pan-India, with the highest transactions from Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, and Gurugram.

The startup has over 1,400 home decor products (SKUs) on its platform—a few imported from China and the US and the rest manufactured in-house. So far, it claims to have sold over 8,000 products.

Ashima says, “We have partnered with small businesses who manufacture and we help them sell on our platform. We are working with over 50 designers and 15 brands on our platform. For the business-to-business (B2B) side, we are working on fulfilling business orders for projects.”

The startup sources its raw materials from small vendors across India and some designers working exclusively for the brand. It sells through Amazon and AJIO Luxe, along with its own website.

“Our business is ecommerce-based, and with positive feedback from our customers, we have started helping businesses in revamping their residential, office, hotel spaces, etc.,” says Ashima.

At present, Whispering Homes has a team of 16 members.

Funding and monetisation

Bootstrapped with an initial investment of Rs 75 lakh, Whispering Homes' products are priced between Rs 399 and Rs 80,000. Its average ticket size is about Rs 4,000.

The startup takes a commission of between 15-30 percent from small businesses, depending on the product category. This commission also includes operations, customer services, and shipping costs.

“We started retailing in October 2021 with a mere 35 orders and made a handsome revenue of Rs 2.7 lakh in the first month of launch,” Ashima says.

“Through constant marketing efforts and customer feedback, we've come a long way and stand at a total revenue of Rs 61.1 lakh in April 2022,” she adds.

The way ahead

According to Statista, India’s direct-to-consumer (D2C) online home decor market was about $2 billion in 2020. It is likely to increase to $5.4 billion in 2025.

“Starting the business during COVID-19 was a challenge. Another challenge was making customers understand the product quality as we are new in this segment. However, with positive feedback from our customers and brand awareness, we are working on a solution for this,” Ashima says. 

Since home decor is a highly visual activity, brands have to create an intuitive experience with the help of images to align with home shoppers. 

Whispering Homes—which competes with the likes of Nestasia, Modern Quest, and The DecorKart—plans to use augmented reality (AR) technology on its website to let people experience the products in their spaces. 

This will also open avenues for those who wish to create their personalise dream home projects, where they can recommend to the startups’ customers what will suit them best.

Further, it is working on integrating artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) with its marketing tools and chatbots to enhance engagement with customers.

The startup aims to expand into new markets, tap into the B2B market, and bring more small businesses on board. 

“We plan to establish our systems and create a fulfilling shopping experience for our customers. As of now, our focus is to enrich this experience and will look into funding in the future. We are planning to launch in Dubai too. We have shipped a few B2B orders outside India, and are planning on expanding globally,” Ashima says.
Edited by Suman Singh