Beginning as a Facebook page, how Tribe Amrapali now sparkles in the modern and everyday jewellery segment
In a conversation with HerStory, Tribe Amrapali founder and CEO Akanksha Aror talks about the journey of setting up an online store as early as 2013, building the brand during uncertain times, and taking it across the country.
Rich, rustic, and yet modern and dynamic - words that embody- a jewellery brand that first started as an online store way back in 2013.
Started by jewellery designer Akanksha Arora, whose father-in-law Rajiv Arora built the iconic parent brand Amrapali Jewellers, Tribe Amrapali’s youth-centred jewellery pieces are primarily focused on silver, gold-plated silver, and fashion jewellery.
A graduate of the Indian Institute of Gems & Jewellery, Mumbai (IIGJ), Mumbai, Akanksha’s interest and love for jewellery was cemented when she married Tarang Arora.
Launching her brand at the age of 25, Akanksha has been instrumental in creating the verticals at Amrapali Jewels Pvt. Ltd, and launching Tribe Amrapali’s website and retail stores.
Under her dynamic leadership, the brand has carved out a global footprint as a leading jewellery brand with successful deployments in over 20 outlets across six countries.
Today, she functions as the CEO of Tribe Amrapali, and looks into innovation and designs at Tribe Amrapali, ensuring the brand retains its heritage ethos while creating contemporary designs.
In an exclusive conversation with HerStory, Akanksha talks about the journey of setting up, and building the brand name Tribe Amrapali.
Edited excerpts from an interaction:
HerStory (HS): How did you come up with the idea of Tribe Amrapali, and what was the impact of COVID-19 on the brand?
Akanksha Arora (AA): The idea behind Tribe Amrapali came to us when we started a Facebook page for the mother brand, Amrapali Jewels. We would post images captured from our phones on the Amrapali Jewels Facebook page back in the day.
We had many customers from across the world who always showed a desire to purchase our pieces. They would constantly enquire if we had an online store and if we could ship our jewellery pieces across the world. That’s when the idea struck us.
We started selling jewellery through our Facebook page, where we would ship pieces to our customers halfway across the world. And simultaneously, we commenced ideation on the development of an online store.
Digitisation and social media had started gaining popularity then. Although we started working on an ecommerce website, we realised that fine jewellery has a lot of complications with regard to shipment and international delivery. To elaborate, you need insurance, safe modes for shipping to avoid any form of damages and in case repairs are needed, there is an import duty which is levied for bringing pieces back into the country.
Logistically, high-value jewellery was simply not the most suitable for international shipping.
Keeping this in mind, we developed an ecommerce model for Tribe Amrapali with base metal and silver jewellery.
Tribe Amrapali represents more affordable pieces of jewellery, and these pieces are produced in larger volumes as compared to Amrapali Jewels. With the development of Tribe Amrapali, we have managed to overcome all the challenges we were facing earlier.
We are now able to retail jewellery online while keeping the price points in check, the quantities scalable and the pieces are easy to ship worldwide with lower duties.
With COVID-19, we faced some grave challenges. Tribe Amrapali’s physical stores were shut for a very long duration. There was also a lack of physical events taking place, weddings were put on hold.
During this period, we realigned our strategy and shifted our focus completely on the ecommerce store. We started getting purchase requests from clients who wanted to buy earrings for their Zoom calls and virtual meetings!
People were now purchasing jewellery catered to their Work-from-Home looks, online parties, online weddings and baby showers.
Hence, we channelled all our energy towards online sales and even started WhatsApp consultations for our clients who were purchasing jewellery through the messaging platform. Now, since the government has lifted curbs and people have started stepping out of their homes and moving outdoors, our store visits and sales have returned to normalcy.
HS: Tell us how Tribe Amrapali has evolved and grown?
AA: When we started Tribe Amrapali’s ecommerce website in 2013, it was just me and two other staff members handling all the operations. Since the three of us were not from an IT or ecommerce background, we outsourced a tech team to build our website.
During the initial phase, it was our small team that was conducting all the end-to-end work, from designing the jewellery, processing it into production, and packaging all the items. We had also undertaken primary tasks such as responding to all customer queries and emails.
As Tribe Amrapali’s presence started growing, and our customer base began expanding, we were required to scale up our operations and that’s when we started growing our team. Currently, our core team consists of four key members, and our total team strength is 40-50 employees. The current revenue is 100x more than what it was at the time of its inception.
HS: Tell us about the design, the manufacturing and making of the products - what was the core understanding of consumer needs and behaviour?
AA: The design and manufacturing of our jewellery happen in-house, and we work on the jewellery collections season-wise. Our production cycle changes as per the season-wise customer requirements and demands. The first cycle of production starts in September during the Navratra season when we see immense demand for traditional jewellery from customers celebrating and attending Durga Puja.
During this time, we launch our first Navratri focused festive collection, and see a great number of sales for these catered collections. Then there’s Diwali when we increase the production of additional festive collections. This is followed by Christmas and New Year, during which we see a higher demand for westernised jewellery pieces. Accordingly, we produce collections with intricate western influences.
In January and February, we have the NRI season when we cater to customers from across the world. Here we see a mix in demand for both traditional and contemporary jewellery styles. Our sales peak during Holi, and after that the cycle slows down again.
During the summer, we work on light summer collections. We also utilise this time to do the groundwork and plan the design and production of our next round of festive collections all over again. We have a team of in-house designers who work on the briefs and targets that we set, and the manufacturing process takes place within our own workshops.
HS: Tell us about the pricing of the products, and how did you find your sweet spot
AA: The average selling point is around Rs 4,000. Our products start at around Rs 400 and can touch up to Rs 1 lakh for some of our more expensive jewellery pieces. The price points are decided keeping in mind that we wanted to give an affordable luxury experience to our customers. We wanted to strike a balance between niche & mass and make it affordable yet maintain exclusivity. Our jewellery focus remains on fashion and silver jewellery, so we're able to achieve that balance with these price points.
HS: What are your future plans?
AA: With an increase in fashion consciousness, our plan is to expand Tribe Amrapali stores into tier II cities across the country. Our aim is to make Tribe Amrapali highly accessible to people from all cities by creating affordable jewellery ranges that can be purchased by all. We are also focusing on increasing distribution channels, and plan to take Tribe Amrapali’s footprints to an international level shortly.
HS: What advice would you give women entrepreneurs?
AA: If you’re an entrepreneur, and you work hard, have great ideas and your product is unique, gender does not define success or success does not pick genders.
For me, it’s not about being a woman or a man. If you work hard and believe in your product, then success will come to you. There will be challenges along the way, but you have to overcome them with the mindset of an entrepreneur.
A million hardships should not be enough to stop you. Every failure will teach you something so take every hurdle as a learning lesson. Let the struggle motivate you and make your resolve even stronger. As an entrepreneur, you must trust your instincts. Never underestimate your capabilities when running your business. You begin with a vision, and your decisions will affect your business every step of the way. No one better than you knows how it feels in the gut.
Edited by Anju Narayanan