How this husband-wife duo's love for Rajasthani traditional art helped them build a Rs 2.5 Cr furniture brand
Rajan was working with Dunlop India Ltd. in 1992 in Rajasthan when he fell for the state’s ethnic craft. When all his friends were busy living their youth; he spent his last penny on collecting antiques, chandeliers, clocks, pocket watches, and artefacts from the havelis of Rajasthan.
What began as a hobby eventually turned his side to enter entrepreneurship. In 1992, in New Delhi, Rajan launched Ethnic Kraft to manufacture and export traditional Rajsthani furniture and let customers relish the lavish living of the Maharajas of India.
“I was always into art and culture, and when I saw such beautiful work in Rajasthan, I couldn’t resist myself and started the business to take this beauty across the world,” Rajan tells SMBStory.
Edited excerpts from the interview
SMBStory: What is Ethnic Kraft? How did you start the business?
Rajan Sodhi: Ethnic Kraft is a company involved in the manufacture and export of exclusive hand-carved teakwood furniture to connect with our country's rich cultural heritage. Based out of New Delhi, I started the company in collaboration with my wife Reena Sodhi, who is an interior designer.
I am in love with the art and she is in love with the designs. Hence, our union gave our brand a different feel and love.
Ethnic Kraft was started with a bootstrapped capital of Rs 5 lakh, and we have our retail store in Greater Kailash II, New Delhi. The company now records an annual turnover of Rs 2.5 crore.
SMBS: From where do you source materials and who manufactures your products?
RS: Our primary material is teakwood. We import the same from Nagpur, Maharashtra. Our range is passionately crafted by skilled artisans whose generations have been involved in recreating the magic in wood.
We, either directly or indirectly, employ about 80 skilled craftsmen in our operations and provide them with the raw materials required for manufacturing the products.
The company manufactures a vast range of residential furniture including sofa sets, bedroom sets, dining sets, cabinets, beautifully carved jharokhas (windows), Indian swings, etc., and can customise the same according to a customer’s needs too.
SMBS: Who are your customers? What are your key achievements in the business journey?
RS: Ethnic Kraft deals in both the B2B and B2C categories. We get major sales from our retail store and exports. We export to countries like the US, the UK, Bulgaria, Australia, Kenya, the Middle East, and more.
We also have our own portal, ethnickraft.com, where we get about four to five high-value orders per month. The company also participates in various exhibitions being conducted in Dubai and other parts of the world which attracts a heavy footfall of customers.
Ethnic Kraft has furnished a part of the Rashtrapati Bhawan along with its banquet hall during President Bill Clinton’s visit to India in the year 2000. It has also furnished four suites in the British-era building - Dwarka, Nalanda, Mumtaz, and Tiger. Apart from this, we have also furnished a part of a heritage hotel project, named Noor-Us-Sabah Hotel at Kohe Fiza Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
We are also working on an ongoing project with the Iran Embassy in New Delhi, where we are furnishing more than 100 rooms.
SMBS: Is the boom in the demand for modern furniture a threat to your demand?
RS: No. Though the demand for modern light-wood furniture has increased, and it has become a competition too; I don’t think it is a threat to our demand.
At Ethnic Kraft, we cater to the premium segment and deal in niche products. Our target audience loves art and has a passion for it and is conscious about their lifestyle. So, for Ethnic Kraft, there is no shift in the demand.
SMBS: What are your plans way forward?
RS: The way forward for Ethnic Kraft is big, as we are planning to increase our exports. We are also planning to participate in more exhibitions across the globe.
(Edited by Suman Singh)