How this woman entrepreneur grew Tjori into a popular handicrafts destination, recording Rs 50 Cr turnover
Born out of love for traditional handicrafts and apparel, and to cater to the global demand for Indian handcrafted products Mansi Gupta started Tjori in 2013 in New Delhi.
While I was studying at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, I saw a huge demand for Indian handicrafts abroad. However, I couldn’t find any Indian brand to fulfil that need. There was no Indian brand to drive the Indian audience there. Hence, I thought to start something in this niche,” Mansi, 36, recalls.
In an interaction with SMBStory, Mansi shares her entrepreneurial journey and how the brand that was started to cater to a global audience has many takers in India too.
Edited excerpts of the interview:
SMBStory: What is Tjori? How was it started?
Mansi Gupta: Tjori is a multi-category, online-first artisanal ethnic brand that includes apparel, wellness, home, and mother and child products. The brand focuses on handmade products and the goodness of traditional Indian ingredients.
Tjori began on a small whiteboard with a huge foresight for the brand, an opportunity which was explored due to the lack of knowledge about the traditional and heritage handicrafts of India on a global platform. The inspiration was Zara, which started from a small boutique in Spain and now has taken over the world of fashion.
The company was started with my savings of Rs 10 lakh and now clocks an annual turnover of Rs 50 crore.
At present, Tjori caters to 195 countries across the globe through digital marketing and our ecommerce website. We help deliver the orders through our courier service partner, FedX.
We raised funding of approximately Rs 1.5 crore from friends and family in 2016-17. In 2019, we raised pre-Series A capital to expand Tjori into an omnichannel brand.
SMBS: How did the company diversify into so many categories?
MG: At its core, Tjori is focused on the goodness of traditional Indian ingredients and crafts. Focus is singular - but this singularity is the common thread across categories. We believe in the goodness and virtue of our products, which are handcrafted and authentic in their creation with a fusion of modernity to stand at par with the brands from all over the globe in terms of both quality and preference.
Our sector is $12 billion market and we operate very differently from the competition on a limited sales model. We do not pile up inventory and block capital. Rather, we undergo clearance every 20-30 days bringing in new stock.
SMBS: What has been the impact of your work on the customers and society?
MG: Tjori is at the forefront of making Indians and the world love what is truly indigenous and made in India. We are on the journey of taking on the biggest brands in the world with what the strength our country offers - playing from the front-foot, as cricketers would say!
Contributing to our collection are artisans and designers from India. We have created jobs for 500+artisans and craftsmen and they will grow as we grow.
Our website gets more than one million visits per month and has a repeat customer base of 40-50 percent.
We have our manufacturing units across Delhi/NCR and all raw materials are sourced through authentic and ethical sources making sure the original art form of that state is given the right value and each piece carries a status of ‘state of the art design and fabrication’. Like with the jamdani collection, which was sourced from the regions of West Bengal from where it truly belongs.
At Tjori, we use chemical-free and cruelty-free products for manufacturing, and keeping in mind the delicate skin of kids, we use plant-based fibre and milk fabric for their clothing category.
SMBS: How are you using digital in your journey?
MG: We have integrated technology in a big way to build an innovative supply chain, which allows at-scale production of handmade products. Tjori runs a Zara-esque just-in-time (JIT) production process enabled by its proprietary ERP and partner app ecosystem. We react quickly to emerging trends and launch new collections every week offering unmatched freshness to our customers. We’ve created and retained a huge community of loyal customers which has interested investors from not just India but also the Middle East.
SMBS: What are your future prospects?
MG: The brand’s vision is to bring the world a little closer and make all discover worthy products, discoverable and within reach. We are also looking forward to launching our first brick-and-mortar store in New Delhi by the end of 2019.
We are also planning to launch men’s apparel category in the next quarter.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)