How this jewellery brand pivoted its entire production from China to 'Make in India'
Aditi Motla saw two sides of the jewellery industry when she was taking part in a fine jewellery show in Hong Kong on behalf of a diamond jewellery manufacturing company. An Applied Jewellery graduate from Gemological Institute of America, Aditi was awestruck by the plethora of fashion jewellery ranging from expensive unique pieces to affordable everyday wear.
“There were so many interesting designs that I felt would be new to the Indian audience. I bought some pieces, did a small photoshoot, created a Facebook page, and that is how Tipsyfly really started,” Aditi tells HerStory.
In her entrepreneurial journey, she was joined by her sister Aashna Sangani Parikh, who takes care of content creation and marketing, and her college friend, Ashish Virwani, who looks after finance operations, as co-founders.
Aditi Motla and Aashna Sangani Parikh, Co-founders of Tipsyfly
The Tipsyfly journey
Aashna says the fashion jewellery market in India, large but fragmented, is considered one of the fastest growing market segments. It is estimated to reach a whopping Rs 656 billion by the end of 2022.
Founded in 2015, the Mumbai-based brand began with a defined target audience of women between 18 to 40 yrs, sourcing its products from manufacturers in China. With ecommerce picking up in India at the time, most of their sales were driven by online marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart, Jabong (which shut down in February 2020), and Myntra, besides a mild presence of its own website.
The year 2018 brought in major changes for the jewellery brand, as they started working with local artisans to design their own collections. As more brands joined the ecommerce bandwagon, and sensing that marketplaces were becoming too crowded and getting onto discount wars, Tipsyfly ramped up its own website and social presence.
Today, most of the sales are generated from its own website through the B2C model. Tipsyfly also works on B2B operations through several stores in Mumbai.
Joining hands with India’s karighars
Aditi’s experience in the jewellery industry came handy - while sourcing products from China or looking for artisans to design afresh. Towards the end of 2018, Tipsyfly was completely dependent on about eight artisan clusters in Mumbai, Jaipur, and Kolkata.
Working with three other designers, Aditi says they are constantly looking out for online trends, and incorporate customer feedback while designing the jewellery. The brand launches about three to four collections every month. The quick turnaround to tap into ideas when it is still in trend is attributed to the artisan partnerships.
Fashion jewellery by Tipsyfly
“I have greater control over the inventory and manufacturing process by making in India with our own karighars, although one would assume it is easier to import from China. I can just sit down with the artisans and re-order trendy products in time for it to continue selling when there is still appetite in the market. And vice versa with designs that aren't doing great,” Aditi explains. Now the products reach the market within 25-30 days of ideation.
Today, more than 50 percent of Tipsyfly’s business is generated by personalised products.
Working with the artisans was not smooth sailing to begin with, as the jewellery manufacturing sector has always been male-dominated or “babu-driven”, as Aditi calls it.
Not only were artisans very unwelcoming of a woman entrepreneur coming to talk design and place orders, they were also not keen on working with materials other than gold or diamond, and especially much less so with online brands.
“But a lot has changed in the last five years, and they now experiment with different types of metals like brass. We have built trust and changed their mindset towards ecommerce acceptance. The artisans have grown with our business and in fact, some workshops run purely on our orders,” Aashna says.
Navigating the market
Ashish believes their ecommerce website has greater potential, and more segments in India’s population yet to be tapped. For him, "running an ecommerce platform is much like running a departmental store online, we are looking to maximise where our customer is looking at, how to make them purchase. There is a lot to learn, and technology to upgrade every day."
While its flagship kiosk in Pacific Mall, Delhi was closed before COVID-19 struck, it hopes to re-enter the retail space once the pandemic comes to a definite end.
Self-funded so far, the trio have infused about Rs 75 lakh together, which includes an initial investment of Rs 30 lakh. Tipsyfly claims to have recorded a 100 percent growth between the FY 2018-2019, and a 40 percent growth in the following year despite losing an entire quarter of business to COVID-19.
At present, it is clocking in monthly revenue of Rs 60 lakh, and is targeting Rs 10 crore in revenue for the FY 2020-2021.
“We are sustainable at the moment, and don't want to be under investor pressure. We may weigh the options of seeking investors and raising funds at a later stage, and if we do, it would be because the investor brings guidance and mentorship to the table,” Ashish adds.