This Udaipur marketplace brings furniture, luxury items from over 300 designers worldwide
In 2015, Astha Khetan had moved back to her hometown Udaipur after completing undergraduate studies abroad and a brief stint at Hindustan Unilever. Ecommerce was beginning to thrive across India but design and furniture were yet to find its place in online marketplaces.
So from her home in Udaipur, one of India’s most culturally vibrant cities, Astha decided to start The House of Things, an online platform that sells luxury products in home decor and furniture space.
Astha claims to enjoy an early mover's advantage in bringing niche luxury and designer items to a wider audience of design enthusiasts in India.
For Astha, entrepreneurship has always been the plan. Growing up in a business family in Udaipur, she was always passionate about design and the plan was either to join the family business or start something in the city.
Standing out in design and furniture market
Astha beganby curating class-oriented or period-specific products and others that avant-garde designers were coming up with.
The platform soon diversified to feature products across different pricing to suit a bigger audience's needs.
It trickled down from being a highly curated platform to offer best-in-class products across categories such as furniture; home accessories including candles, rugs, wallpaper, barware, and glassware; lighting; artworks like sculpture, traditional art, and textiles, paintings, and mixed media art, among others.
The House of Things features the works of more than 300 artists from India’s remote villages to globally renowned ones including Aditya Ahuja, Ardmore Design, Ecru, Paul Matter, Jay Strongwater, Rooshad Shroff, Scarlet Splendour, and Michael Aram.
While pricing is decided by the artists themselves, The House of Things takes a mark down so that they are available at the same market price for the end consumer.
With prices for certain accessories starting from about Rs 500 to Rs 1,000, the most expensive piece of furniture sold on the platform was a piece by Duffy London for Rs 25 lakh.
Bootstrapped so far, The House of Things claims to have grown profitably year-on-year without having to collaborate with bigger brands so far. Its biggest market outside India lies in the US, Dubai, and Europe.
In addition to its direct-to-consumer (D2C) model, the startup also manages business-to-business (B2B) operations, taking up consultancy projects for hotels like Taj Convention Centre in Goa and Aurika in Udaipur.
The House of Things expanded its offerings in time to cater to consumer needs, Astha says some of its peers had to shut shop over time. Now the brand is operating in India’s online home decor market that is expected to grow at Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.24 percent between 2022 and 2026, according to MarketResearch.
Changing consumer behaviour
Indian consumers have long been hesitant of purchasing online and even more so when it comes to luxury items. Since 2017, Astha noted a change in behaviour where ‘touch and feel’ did not feel as important to make a purchase.
For the platform, COVID-19 has been a blessing in disguise that further accelerated online buying.
Initially, convincing designers to come onboard was a challenge. Astha says convincing The House of Things as a platform to sell high-end design was difficult but that changed over time.
At the end of the day, “In an increasingly globalised world where design and craftsmanship are valued, we wanted to disrupt the industry by supporting these businesses and connecting the creators to global consumers for contemporary design and luxury craftsmanship,” Astha says. The entrepreneur now hopes to foray into the retail market this year.
Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti