We endeavour to be present in a woman's life from am to pm: Darshan Dave
In conversation with Darshan Dave, Co-founder, Diosa, who talks about his brand and its uniqueness in terms of quality and style.
Tags: Diosa, Startup, Jewellery brand, Women jewellery, Gold jewellery, Diamond Jewellery, Sterling Silver, Swarovski Zirconia, Jewellery market, Indian jewellery market, Silver, malleable metal, luxury jewellery, casual jewelleryBY Huned Contractor | May 07, 2018 | comments ( 0 ) |
With the modern Indian woman’s schedules so packed with work, family priorities, socializing, meetings, parties, and dates – not to mention those moments of personal leisure from time to time – the last thing she wants to do is to fuss over what jewellery to wear for each such occasion. Sensing this gap, Darshan Dave of Mumbai set up Diosa as a luxury jewellery brand to cater to this need. In this interview with Indian retailer, he talks about his products and strategies.
Could you provide details about your experience in the jewellery business and why did you decide to launch a startup for making luxury jewellery for women?
Inspired by my love for artisanal creation, I entered into the fascinating world of jewellery making at an early age of 16. With a creative knack by my side and a passion for making unique contemporary designs for every woman, I have been deep-rooted in this industry since 25 years. The woman is the ultimate soul of any jewellery. My creations reflect my vision to see every woman across different walks of life wearing a Diosa. It is that inspiration, passion for jewellery, eye for detail and a pioneering vision for innovation that made me move away from the traditional form of gold and diamond jewellery to designing mesmerizing creations using Sterling Silver and Swarovski Zirconia.
What did your market study for such products reveal?
The gems and jewellery industry reveals an important part in the Indian economy, constituting almost 5-6% of the overall GDP. Post globalisation, the jewellery market in India has evolved and is growing in its jewellery consumption pattern. With rapidly changing times, there is a paradigm shift in the lifestyle and purchase behavior. Women are looking for great luxury designs to flaunt amongst friends and family at affordable prices and as an alternative to real gold jewellery. Changing lifestyles have presented an opportunity for women to dress differently on various occasions. The consumers believe in adornment and in indulgence unlike the older days, where jewellery was meant more for securing in lockers than for wearing purposes. The study revealed a large niche in the market for an alternative option for gold and diamond jewellery. Diosa has successfully filled this niche.
What were the initial challenges you faced for setting up Diosa?
There were a couple of initial challenges as regards the technical and consumer perspective aspects. On the technical front, the initial challenge was working with silver to match the same quality as gold. Silver being a soft, ductile and malleable metal, does not have the same sustainability as gold. We spent our first year experimenting with metals and alloys to attain the right combination of strength and flexibility to gain the same quality as gold and diamond jewellery. Another challenge was the tarnish that develops over time on silverware and other silver-plated objects, which is silver sulfide. Silver does not react readily with water, acids, or many other compounds, which in turn becomes black and needs frequent polishing – a major reason for consumers to avoid indulging in silver jewellery. With extensive research and testing, we discovered a combination of the right alloy and patented the technology plating process that prevents our jewellery from tarnishing. Diosa offers a minimum three-year warranty on the same.
As regards consumer perception, Diosa had launched a revolutionary product in the market but marketing Diosa to an audience that would only indulge in gold and diamond jewellery was tricky. In the early days of Diosa, when consumers got a touch and feel of the product, they were confused and had never seen anything that looks real and gorgeous and is made of Sterling Silver and Swarovski Zirconia. We tactfully overcame the challenge of educating our consumers by giving them a personalized platform to feel and absorb the product. This eventually led to breaking the traditional mindset and accepting Diosa forever in their lives. My sales team and I did over 100 exhibitions a year across India, visiting all the major cities and the B towns to create this awareness. This was in a span of just nine months, averaging four exhibitions per week in different parts of the country with a team of just six people.
What was the initial corpus required and from where was the funding acquired?
A methodical plan of action was required to kick-start the project. The initial corpus required was above Rs 1 crore. I had savings from my previous year of employment and also borrowed some money from my mother who had been saving for a rainy day just like all mothers do. My sister, working in Australia, supported me with some finances, and the balance was taken care off from my salsa training - I was one of the best salsa instructors at that time in South Mumbai and would give private and group lessons from 8 am in the morning up to 10 pm.
How many products do you make under the luxury jewellery segment?
At Diosa, we endeavor to be present in a woman’s life from ‘am to pm’ i.e. from the time she wakes up to the time she sleeps. We have a varied range of jewels from solitaire studs to statement neckpieces and cocktail rings for the work and party look. Our statement colour stones and pearls in the ready-to-wear collection can instantly make your clothes look new and can electrify an otherwise somber work outfit. Likewise, a pair of perfect square earrings from Diosa will brighten up your face and add spark to your outfit. Similar can be the effect of our cocktail chandelier and cuff bracelets for either your place of work or a night out. We have tennis bracelets or solitaire rings for the Globetrotters and high fliers who are looking for style with convenience and safety. And of course, there is the ultimate bridal collection that’s simply enchanting.
What is your marketing strategy?
As mentioned earlier, we are an integral part of a woman’s daily life. All our marketing strategies are focused on reaching out to every woman through both online and offline channels that comprise lifestyle shows, brand awareness campaigns through various social media platforms, brand associations with the other luxury brands in various consumer goods segments, B2B shows, etc. It’s a never-ending process of implementing the right permutations and combination of marketing tools to achieve the desired results.
Which cities respond best to luxury jewellery?
Women from all walks of life across all cities such as New York, Milan, Paris, Rome, London, Los Angeles, Barcelona, Berlin, Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, and Kochi, among many others, have an attraction for this form of jewellery.
What are your plans for making the brand popular?
Our plans include creating interesting brand awareness campaigns for the online and print segment. We are also exploring other media like collaborations with luxury lifestyle brands like Audi, L’Occitane, Sidonie Larrizi and Swarovski Gemstones. There is also a plan to engage in an interesting association with celebrity stylist Kavita Lakhani as well as fashion directors and magazines.
Do you operate through a franchise model?
Subsequent to constant overwhelming inquiries pouring in, we are aiming to start the franchise model by the end of this year. We already have an offline presence in India, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Bahrain, London, the US, the Caribbean Islands, etc. and will spread our geographical reach in time to come.
What kind of competition do you face in this segment?
We are the pioneers and leaders in Sterling Silver and Swarovski Zirconia jewellery and can humbly state that we have not yet seen any other brand offer the same quality, designs, attention to detail and impeccable customer service as Diosa.
Is there any plan to enter luxury jewellery for men too?
Yes, the men’s luxury segment is untouched and not been focused on by anyone. We have developed a plan to enter this segment next year. We have collaborated with a few leading designers and are in the process of finalising our launch collection. Men have evolved. They are now conscious, expressive and pay equal attention to their wardrobe. A watch is the best they use to express themselves. To make their look charismatic, we are designing an exquisite collection of wristbands, cuff links, and armlets.