Here’s a detailed interview of the Founder of Tjori- Mansi Gupta.
SR: Tell us how the idea originated? What inspired it?
MG: The idea for Tjori originated on a white board at the University of Warton with a huge foresight. We explored this venture because we saw an opportunity which was unexplored due to the lack of knowledge on the traditional and heritage handicraft of India and decided to not just revive them in India but to also take it on a global platform.
SR: Take us through the early days. The struggles. The long hours.
MG: We started our brand ‘Tjori’ with a very basic level investment which came from our families. As soon as we started receiving an overwhelming response from our customers, we then decide to scale up our thoughts for a bigger venture, the early day struggles of money, less man power and the task of figuring out how to deal with technology, logistics etc. was our biggest issues, the one thing we were are about was the aim of the brand, and that led us to where we are today
SR: What was the single most challenging task that you had to cross in order to launch your brand?
MG: When we started our E-commerce website Tjori.com , it received such an unexpected response that our site crashed and that was indeed one of the biggest challenges we all went through and now our website runs on system known as Gatsby which can load pictures in less than 0.18 seconds delivering a smooth and effortless experience for our customers.
SR: Why Indian handicrafts? There is already a surge of a lot of brands who were and exploring this niche.
MG: I chose Indian handicrafts because I felt there were unexplored areas in Indian Handicraft industry due to the lack of knowledge on heritage and art & craft of India. The idea was to revive the handicraft through our platform and take it globally and not just India, we wanted to build our own brand identity. Tjori is now an established lifestyle brand with Apparel, Home, Wellness, Jewelry, Shoes, Bags and now a new category of Mother & child and Men, all of which adheres to the richness of Indian handicrafts. A well-priced collection that values the authenticity and craftsmanship while following the global standards of quality.
SR: Does your business have any roots related to your Jammu memories? If so, how?
MG: Yes! Of course. Our collections do reflect the essence of the state. One of our recent collections Gulfam has been truly inspired from Jammu and Kashmir taking brilliance from the beautiful place, we introduced our velvet phiran and pallazo sets which are one of the most popular outfits in the state and our Kanni collection is also one of our older collections that shows the intricate craft of the region. Also, our whole saffron wellness range has been one of the inspiration from the state since world’s best saffron is grown in the Jammu and Kashmir state and the ingredient plays a really important role in the lives of people living there and to continue the ongoing heritage we wanted to have the golden ingredient in our products.
SR: You come from a business family. Would you say that made life easy when it came to launching your own property?
MG: Yes, it did make it a little easy for us. Since our families were already from the business background, we had the dedication and commitment it takes to run a business. The values and the will to commit to a project it and take it to glorious heights was a core value system, the handlings of day to day activities also came slightly easy due to this reason.
SR: As a businesswoman, where do you think Indian handicraft industry is heading to? The economy as it is running slow.
MG: Handicrafts are matchless expressions as they represent the Indian culture, tradition, and heritage of the country. Handicraft sector is directly related to the economy of the rural artisans that means its growth, is the mirror image of rural economy, which for India holds high weightage. The contribution of Indian handicrafts cannot be neglected. The industry has offered employment to a large number of artisans from generation to generation. The condition of the industry in India has changed now and these developments will help speed up the slow runny economy.
SR: What all brand/artists/artisans do you have associated with you. What is their expectation from your platform?
MG: We don’t have any brand or artist associated with us. We have an in house team that helps keep the expectation of brand intact, but we definitely would look forward in the future to do such collaboration for our brand.
SR: What about employees. What do you look for in an ideal employee? What’s his standing in taking your brand to the next level?
MG: Employee for us is the most valuable asset of the company, finances come and go but the core of the company is its employee. Employee’s attitude towards his work matters the most. Also, an ideal employee sets high goals and reaches them. Such an employee is visionary and sets long-term realistic goals. In a way that I could rely on them at any given situation, these people are a very big factor in the success of the brand ‘Tjori’.
SR: How do you see things shaping up in the future? What’s the next big step?
MG: I see the brand ‘Tjori’ growing and keeping a firm foot in the market of physical retail and distribution, while growth in the e-commerce sector for us has been taking shape with the launch of a new category catering to the Indian men completely. These steps will help us reach a larger genre of people, creating more authentic pieces inspired by different Indian art forms.