Rishabh Kothari, founder-CEO, Talisman, talks about the current jewellery trends in India. Excerpts…
The Optimist: How did you conceive of the idea of Talisman?
Rishabh Kothari: Cities in the US and the UK have homegrown retail brands, such as Alex and Ani, US, and Thomas Sabo, UK, that focus on fashion jewellery and accessories, which are not only youthful, but also very personal. India, on the other hand, is flooded with segmented (segregated) retailers that have flooded the market with jewellery made of brass (and metal alloys) with very basic quality.
In India, luxury is always associated with a heavy price tag or a high-end brand. Talisman, as a brand, was conceived to change the very perception with designs curated in the purest form of silver with genuine stones, at the same time, priced at very comfortable ranges for almost everyone. To us, jewellery is a way of expressing oneself and everyone should get a chance to experience it.
We have a range of items in our store starting from conventional rings, pendants and earrings to our signature charm bracelets — all made with silver and highest-quality materials (such as Turkish leather and Italian enamels).
The Optimist: A start-up and that, too, a luxury jewellery brand isn’t common in India. How were the initial days of Talisman? What sort of difficulties did you face?
Rishabh Kothari: We’re still at a growing stage and every day brings new challenges. The core difficulties we’ve come across till now are:
- Notion of Sterling Silver against Silver-plated
It’s a challenge to educate buyers on the key difference between sterling silver jewellery against silver-plated jewellery made of cheap-quality brass and metal alloys and only coated with silver that probably wears off after 2-3 times of use. The market’s flooded with such products that spread misconception about this. When a person buys Talisman jewellery, he or she not only buys a fashion accessory, but also invests in something valuable.
- Keeping up with the evolving fashion demand
It’s always a challenge to be in a fashion market heavily driven by not only Bollywood divas, but also Western trends. It was important for us, as a brand, to define the design philosophy in the early days. We didn’t want to be yet another brand offering run-of-the mill traditional designs. Our key designing ideology is to be youthful and fun, yet graceful. We experiment with various colours of high-quality Italian enamel and semi-precious stones to offer our buyers something unique.
- Repeat purchase and client acquisition
Being in a very competitive industry, acquiring new customers is an ongoing challenge.
The Optimist: How is Talisman offering luxury pieces at affordable prices with such a perspective?
Rishabh Kothari: We have design studios in Jaipur and Hong Kong, where a team of 10 experts works on every aspect of jewellery designing, with optimized operational models at every step of jewellery-making. We can control the prices, quality and standards, which we, eventually, pass on to our buyers by offering them pieces of the finest quality at very competitive prices.
The Optimist: Do you think that, at present, Indians prefer to buy jewellery more as an investment than as a fashion accessory?
Rishabh Kothari: Gold and diamond jewellery have always been an investment and will continue to be so in the future. Silver jewellery, on the other hand, has become a fashion accessory in recent times due to market awareness. Women today want to wear jewellery pieces that are affordable and minimalistic, with designs that match their fashion preferences.
The Optimist: What’s been the feedback on Talisman?
Rishabh Kothari: If we had to explain it in one word — PHENOMENAL! During our early days, we did 20-odd pop-up exhibitions in 20 cities across India. We were surprised to see the acceptance of our pieces at costs we priced them at; and one consistent feedback we got — and still get — from our clients is on the designing and how they’re so different from the rest in the market. We have a range of designs — from quirky to elegant. People also like our packaging, which we believe adds a sense of richness and elegance to the overall consumer experience.
The Optimist: Do you think that, in the digital era, online jewellery transaction can become a reality?
Rishabh Kothari: Yes, of course! The kind of response we’ve received is proof of that. The revolution has happened not just with us, but the jewellery market, too, over the past decade and customers want everything at the click of a button. So, online jewellery shopping is very much a reality now.
The Optimist: What are Talisman’s future plans? How do you plan to make it big?
Rishabh Kothari: For the next 3-4 years, we’ll focus on what we’re best at in jewellery and accessories. Currently, we have women’s jewellery in our catalogues. We plan to add 20 unique designs each month. For instance, our Raksha Bandhan collection, which is in the pipeline, will be something unique. Our immediate expansion strategy includes introducing a men’s range — cuff-links, bracelets, rings and necklaces. We’ll also be introducing chic designs in gold jewellery.