Started from home to make ends meet, this brand now sells 2.5 Cr rakhis a year to meet India’s festive needs
Raksha Bandhan celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters, and the festival holds the significance of sisters tying a thread (rakhi) on their brother’s wrist, wishing for their happiness and long life. The festival is celebrated across India, and the markets are flooded with sisters shopping to buy beautiful rakhis for their brothers.
Since 1962, Shree Rakhi has been fulfilling the demand for this festive thread, and today, it has become one of the largest manufacturers of rakhis across the length and breadth of India.
In an exclusive interaction with SMBStory, its Director and third-generation entrepreneur, Kamal Kishore Soni, recounts the journey of the legacy brand and how it bore the fruit of success despite having a seasonal product.
Beginning of a legacy brand
The journey of Shree Rakhi dates back to 1962 when Murli Dharji Mohta was working as a clerk in an accounting firm in Kolkata but was unable to meet the family expenses. The times were hard, job opportunities were scarce, and he did not even have enough money to start a business on his own.
Seeing the family circumstances, his wife, Pushi Devi Mohta, decided to make simple rakhis at home, seeing the significance of the festival in the country. Though the investment required to start making rakhis at home was little, a creative sense was crucial to turning a simple thread into a beautiful piece that would fascinate people to buy it.
“My nani (grandmother) started making rakhis at home to help my grandfather but suddenly, after two years, she passed away and the business also got shut. But my grandfather didn’t give up and so, he began the work again,” Kamal tells SMBStory.
Mohta restarted the business in the fond memory of his wife, and his son Jiwan Das Mohta carried the business forward. Soon after, in 1979, Kamal joined his uncle in the business and decided to make Shree Rakhi a renowned name in the country.
“Earlier, we were selling rakhis without any branding and in an unorganised way. When I joined, I thought that making a brand out of rakhis would benefit us and so, we started labelling our rakhis as ‘Shree Rakhi’,” Kamal recalls.
Jiwan Das Mohta, second-generation entrepreneur and director of Shree Rakhi
From home to across India
Started from home, Shree Rakhi is also a registered MSME that now serves 700 districts across the country. Kamal says that the company follows a distribution model with a network of 500 wholesalers and 2,000 retailers across India.
Talking about their business model, Kamal says that they organise dealer’s meet every year in Delhi and Hyderabad, where they pre-book rakhis in a go for more than two lakh wholesalers and retailers for the entire year.
Kamal claims that annually, Shree Rakhi sells 2.5 crore pieces of rakhis that include plain rakhi, zardosi rakhi, beads rakhi, kundan rakhi, and a lot more.
The business is currently being managed by Kamal’s uncle, Jiwan, and his two brothers – Surendra Soni and Narendra Soni.
Shree Rakhi also exports rakhis to the UK, the US, Australia, Fiji, Mauritius, and elsewhere, and Kamal claims that in the last two years, exports have grown manifold. The brand also sells its rakhis to gifting companies like FernsNPetals, Flower aura, IGP, and Archies. Kamal says that in the gifting segment, Archies is its biggest buyer. The brand also sells to supermarket chains like More and EasyDay.
According to RoC filings, the company clocked a revenue of more than Rs 33 crore in FY 2019-20.
Increasing employment and opportunities
Shree Rakhi employs thousands of artisans in Kolkata who make rakhis for the brand. The brand has three facilities in Kolkata where the rakhis are made.
“We have provided livelihood to a lot of artisans and labourers in Kolkata and will continue to do so,” Kamal tells SMBStory.
Kamal says that procurement of raw materials for making rakhi is majorly done locally, however, some materials like the threads are sourced from Delhi, and other materials that are included in the packaging are sourced from China.
In the future, Kamal says that the company plans to expand its distribution network. When asked if he wants to open the brand’s retail channel and foray into sustainable rakhis, he says that he tried entering ecommerce as a brand but found it challenging to diversify from wholesale to retail. He also says that the traditional rakhis are here to stay and so the company doesn't want to indulge in the categories that don't serve the masses.
“Wholesale is in our genes and we would continue working in the same business model,” he adds.
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