This brand creates bespoke items on the basis of customers’ personalities
A good gift is one that stays in the receiver’s memory for years to come. Personalising the gift is the best way to ensure this, and bespoke boutique Deraj is here to help.
Founded by Priyashmita, Sanjukta, and Nazneen in November 2020, this brand runs its operations both in Bengaluru and Kolkata.
Since its launch, it has caught the attention of many including politician Shashi Tharoor who wore a customised Uttoriyo for a political event with his party symbol embedded on it.
“Stemming from the firm belief that every individual is unique, our focus atis to work with the individuality of each customer, their stories and dreams and convert those into wearable pieces. Exclusivity is intrinsic to Deraj. We believe that every person should wear things which are unique and which define their personality,” say the founders as they join YS Weekender for a chat about their brand.
The founders bring different skillsets on board. Priyashmita has an MBA in Marketing, Sanjukta is a homemaker, and Nazneen was in the field of Customer Service, before they came together for Deraj.
The idea for Deraj was born from a simple fact. “Even after spending lakhs of rupees, one might not be able to find something exclusive to wear that matches their personality and style. Shouldn’t everyone have something in their wardrobe that was unique to them? This is why Deraj was born,” explains Priyashmita.
Handcrafted saree by Deraj
Initially starting with single piece items, they moved up to creating only three-of-a-kind for a few saree designs and ten pieces for certain kinds of jewellery. This small-scale production ensured the buyer received something completely unique.
Though they began with womenswear, they plan to move to menswear, children’s apparels, and home decor soon.
Over time, as their services received appreciation and their work grew, so did the team and their vision. Now consisting of 27 members across design, production, and promotion verticals; Deraj is focussing on technology to create unique shopping experiences for its customers, while looking to scale and improve quality control.
“Deraj has primarily grown through word of mouth. We have not ventured into any advertising or social media campaign so far. When Mr. Tharoor wore our custom-made bespoke item and tweeted about it, it gave us a boost. Similarly, when Lizzie Chapman ofshared the scarf we made for her logo launch, other corporates wanted us to create similar items,” says Sanjukta.
What’s on offer?
Deraj has no offline presence. Most enquiries come through its website, and the team gets in touch to collect requirements and specifications. The initial groundwork is done through a questionnaire that gives them an idea of the personality of the customer and provides basic information like their favourite colour, memory, flower, place, dressing item, and what makes them happy. Preferences of material and budget are also taken into account.
“We start talking to them to know more about them or the person they are gifting it to. All this information helps us customise the item. We once made a Periwinkle saree because the customer’s favourite activity was to sit in her balcony every morning and watch her Periwinkle tree while sipping tea. We also made a Gateway of India in Mumbai saree, when we learnt that it was our customer’s mother’s favourite place to visit with her parents when she was a child. Unable to travel during lockdown, she was stuck in Kuwait, and we thought it would be a good idea to recreate these precious memories for her. Our much-appreciated Mughal art saree was for a customer who loved history,” explains Nazneen.
Though a lot of work goes into personalisation of orders, corporate items follow a simpler methodology and are often based on conversations and requests like including the logo.
The team claims that their most popular item so far is the Night Jasmine Embroidered Saree. They say, “We believe that this piece truly marked our arrival. It caught people’s attention as it was designed very differently from most sarees. Many embroidered designs follow a pattern with every detail looking identical. However, with the Night Jasmine, we created a design of flowers as it exists in nature, strewn on the ground with each flower a different shape and size - some broken, some complete. This gave it an appearance of being real flowers.”
From time to time, they also release festive and seasonal collections and recently released one timed for New Year’s and the winter season. Other festive collections included the ones for Diwali/Durga Pujo and Valentine’s Day. These are limited edition and mostly consist of single pieces.
The brand also offers sarees, stoles, dupattas, tops, blouses, jewellery, and jackets for men. The pricing begins at a reasonable Rs 499 for a pair of brass earrings and goes up to Rs 39,999 for hand-painted and crafted sarees.
Growth in numbers
According to the latest report by IMARC Group on the India Handicrafts Market 2021-2026, the market in India for handcrafted goods and textiles is expected to continue its robust growth during the forecast period. The report says the expanding ecommerce industry is primarily driving the handicrafts and textiles market in India, and Deraj seems to have entered the arena at the right time.
Having started with a rough investment of Rs 40 lakh, the brand has witnessed approximately 20 to 25 percent growth in revenue per month since launch.
“We have 89 percent repeat purchases and at least 12 percent of our customers have bought from us more than eight times,” share the founders.
They claim the most rewarding part of their retail journey has been their inclusion in people’s stories. Sharing examples, they say, “From capturing a husband’s undying love for his doctor wife, to fulfilling a doctor’s wish of gifting her mother a special saree after she conquered Covid, to creating a woman’s last wish for a saree with historical significance which she wanted to wear before breathing her last; we became part of people’s lives. It was almost like we became family!”
Shinjini Kumar from Mumbai appreciates Deraj’s personalised customisations that make her stand out. Lizzie Chapman, the CEO and Co-founder of ZestMoney, says, “In a world racing towards mass production, there is nothing more special than a complete one-of-a-kind piece that I know has been specially created for me. I am excited to order more - knowing I will always have something unique and personal - these pieces will become true heirlooms.”
The team believes that it is the shunning of mass production that sets them apart from their competition like Nalli Silks, Ritu Kumar, and Karigari to smaller brands.
Signing off, the founders say, “Not being able to visit friends/family over an extended period of time due to lockdown probably led to a certain change in mindset of many people. They wanted to gift more personalised items to close friends and family - perhaps emotions counted more than money, and that is why we have received so much love and traction.”