The Shoshaa show: Rising in a crowded imitation jewellery market
Shoshaa, a Noida-based handcrafted jewellery brand, aims to modernise traditional Kundan jewellery. In three years, the Made in India brand has recorded a turnover of Rs 4 crore.
Heena Bajaj Rustagi took a break from her career in advertising when her daughter was born in 2015. But soon, Heena—who had always been a financially independent woman—realised she needed to start working again.
She started out as a reseller of jewellery, running a business via Facebook and WhatsApp. Then she spent four years trying to understand the jewellery market better. Finally, she found her true calling in Old Delhi's alleyways, home to shops selling Kundan jewellery.
“I saw lanes full of traditional Kundan jewellery. They looked beautiful but were very heavy," Heena tells SMBStory. So, she decided to give traditional Kundan jewellery a modern twist and thus was born, a handcrafted jewellery brand, in 2019.
The brand was started with an investment of Rs 3.5 lakh on the ecommerce platform.
The founder and CEO of Shoshaa says the brand aims to give traditional Kundan jewellery a modern look, targeting women who want to wear different kinds of jewellery.
Today, the Noida-based brand, which is expanding and adding newer categories, has a turnover of Rs 4 crore. “We hope to end this fiscal year with a 200% growth,” says Heena.
The brand’s collection includes earrings, jewellery sets, mangalsutras, bangles, nose pins, bracelets, anklets, and chokers.
“When we first entered the market, items made of nickel dominated the imitation jewellery segment,” says Heena. “People were bringing these items from China and selling them here. It was appealing to choose these because of the high margins, but I had always wanted to create a 100% Made in India product.”
Shoshaa's jewellery is made of copper and brass. The cheaper products that were available in the market, Heena says, have lead in them that causes skin allergy. "We do not use lead in our jewellery," she adds.
The brand works with 100 local artisans, mainly from contractual manufacturing units in Jaipur and Mumbai. The artisans handcraft the designs given by the brand.
Shoshaa hires designers on a freelance basis. It also works with Delhi-based artisans, who occasionally play an active part in the design process as well.
“When I visited the manufacturing units, I observed, with time, more women are getting involved. Despite not having the same level of skill as men who work with metal, they suggest good design ideas. They are quite thrilled when their recommendations work,” says Heena.
Heena is a hands-on entrepreneur, who loves being involved in the whole process.
"I love to be a part of the team. I am present in every team meeting. I occasionally hand draw things and tell them my preferences," she says.
According to Heena, although the brand was becoming popular, and she was interacting with customers who were familiar with Shoshaa and were buying its products, it was difficult to gauge what was working for the company. So, she decided to venture into the direct-to-consumer (D2C) business segment in December last year, with the company's own website.
“In 2021, we started with influencer marketing. But I’m not sure how much of a success it was,” she says.
“Maybe it was because we were driving traffic to Myntra, and we couldn’t track which product was getting popular. Now, with our website, we will be able to track that,” she adds.
In India, Shoshaa is available on Myntra, Nykaa, and Nykaa Fashion, apart from its own ecommerce site. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar contribute to a majority of the brand's sales. In 2020, through Amazon, the brand expanded internationally and is now present in the US, Canada, and Dubai.
Challenges along the way
Heena says moving to Bengaluru was one of the biggest challenges for her.
"I had already established my operations in Noida when I had to relocate, which slightly altered my situation, but my sister-in-law helped,” she says.
Urvashi Bajaj, her sister-in-law, oversees the operations side of the business.
During the pandemic-led lockdown, with several weddings and functions getting either cancelled or postponed, the jewellery segment was going through a slump. However, people celebrated festivals such as Rakhsabandhan at home. So, the brand decided to launch Kundan and Meenakari rakhis, which did well in the market.
Capital management has been another big challenge for Heena. “We started with a small amount, and we have been reinvesting. This also gives us the motivation to keep innovating.”
According to Allied Market Research, the Indian costume jewellery market was valued at $1.78 billion in 2019. It is estimated to reach $2.12 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 7%.
India's imitation jewellery market has several well-established companies and small retailers. The brands include Zaveri Pearls, Voylla, Tribe Amrapali, Pipa Bella, and Palmonas.
“Imitation of imitation happens very quickly. It is difficult to sustain the advantage of creating a new category and owning it,” says Heena.
Roadmap for the future
With its D2C strategy, Shoshaa hopes to reach more people in Tier II and III cities. "Indore, Bihar, and other cities in south India will be crucial for us, where we truly want to tap in," says Heena.
The brand also aims to target countries with a high Asian population, such as Canada.
Meanwhile, Shoshaa is looking to raise funds for growth and expansion.
"Our profits are good. It happens as a result of our emphasis on quality. That is something we would want to maintain," says Heena.
Edited by Suman Singh