Starting from a small showroom in Baripada, Odisha, today Khimji Jewels is serving all across India and abroad with its multiple outlets.
Established in the Pre-Independence era, in the year of 1936 and from becoming the first BIS ( Bureau of Indian Standards) Hallmark licensee in the jewellery industry in Odisha to becoming the first jewellery retailer in the state, Khimji Jewels is one of the oldest and trusted jewellery brands in the country. Abhishansa Mathur was in a conversation with Nishit Nanda, CEO of Khimji Jewels, about their legacy, challenges, future plans, and their new e-venture Youlry.com.
1. Can you share the What, When, & How about the brand Khimji Jewels? Do share the details of the founder as well.
Khimji Jewels is an 86-year-old heritage brand with its roots in Odisha. The founders travelled to the small, princely town of Baripada from a village near Jamnagar in Gujarat in the 1930s. Our family specialty is gold craftsmanship which is how the brand started with a traditional brick and mortar gold jewellery store. Pulling loyal customers from every corner of the land during the pre-independence era, over the last 8 decades, Khimji Jewels has become a well-established presence that allowed for later expansions into Balasore and now Bhadrak. After a successful run in these locations, we are looking towards a pan-India presence with showrooms in major cities.
2. Can you tell us something about yourself?
I’m a self-confessed technophile who loves all things virtual, cloud, and code-driven. When I joined the family business in 2013, post a degree in Computer Science, my driving mandate was to positively disrupt the jewellery business via accountability, data democracy, and technology-led initiatives. Apart from my work as Executive Director at Khimji Jewels, the resulting pursuit of my STEM-backed creative restlessness yielded Youlry.com – a brand born on the cloud during the COVID-19 pandemic. With Youlry.com, my vision has been to create a confluence between the two worlds of logic and emotions to create exceptional experiences that are both holistic and unparalleled within the D2C jewellery retail sector.
When I’m not being a full-blown workaholic, tinkering with codes is something that keeps me sharp and joyful.
3. What are some challenges that you faced while running Khimji Jewels?
As a traditional, heritage jewellery brand based in Odisha, while we at Khimji Jewels excel at in-showroom product experience with the precise know-how to offer our customers, the pandemic proved to be one of our biggest challenges. Our defining strength as generational jewellers with an 86-year-old legacy has been our solid and stable physicality in terms of touch, feel, talk and explore. But our long-standing strength evolved into a wide learning curve for us at the beginning of 2020.
We never thought it would come to this, but the industry-wide restrictions compelled us to close our on-location doors for the first time in history. Despite the odds, we took it in our stride and rose to the challenge with better digital preparedness, and transposed an entire legacy system onto the virtual space. Communication, showcase, delivery was big challenges, but we did it anyway!
To start with, we designed a virtual shopping experience for our customers via WhatsApp. This deep engagement soon turned into a highly sought-after discovery platform. So much so that we had to build a complementary alternative channel featuring robust data strategy and insight mining processes for better customer interest as well as inclusion.
4. What according to you makes Khimji Jewels stand out amongst other brands?
I truly believe that more than our legacy tag, it is our progressive values and contemporary intuition. Also, the deep customer relationships have worked well for us. Both Khimji Jewels and Youlry.com insist on an authentic client partnership with a focus on product quality, customer support, and transparency.
5. Jewellery trends do you foresee?
From what I’ve seen personally, lightweight jewellery will be the next big thing and a champion USP. The driving reasoning is that GenZ and millennials are not enthused about heavy or dense finery. Experimental stones and textures bound by the contemporary sensibility of one-of-a-kind pieces will also be appealing. Also, modern designs in the realm of abstract and worldly shapes are slowly taking over traditional, old-school motifs even within bridal wear. We are also witnessing reimagined finery for the modern wearer since imitation jewellery is progressively selling at higher price points. I think there will be a major uptick in customers seeing more purchase value within the lightweight, fine jewellery segment.
We are also witnessing a major move towards digital. And for the jewellery industry this likely means purchase decisions from a digitally secure financial POV. It comes with the territory that gold investment will evolve from being a sound investment option to a “smart” more tech-enabled one. Similarly, Digital Gold investments with cloud-enabled purchase options ride on the wave of blockchain technology. And the internet-of-value will change the space in a major way.
6. Tell us about Youlry.com. How is it different from the parent brand? How are you taking the legacy ahead?
Born-on-the-cloud, Youlry.com is a studio-led, designer gold jewellery and lifestyle e-commerce, end-to-end offering from the House of Khimji Jewels. With Khimji Jewels as the legacy parent brand, Youlry.com has been built ground up for young, GenZ, and Millennial customers, keeping their aesthetics and sensibilities as the focus of everything the brand creates. With Youlry.com, our cloud-connected team of designers, techies, artisans, and logistics power a 21st-century platform.
Designed from scratch, the jewellery is imagined into concepts that are inspired by the women of today. Also, we have accessories that are consistently evolving in step with the consumer journey of our younger TG.
In our brand verse, Khimji Jewels and Youlry.com fall into entirely separate categories. The former is a heritage jewellery brand featuring cultural masterpieces and trousseau jewellery. Whereas the latter is a contemporary jewellery brand. It offers modern, bold, and lightweight finery for everyday wear at accessible price points through our e-commerce website.
7. Your learnings running Khimji Jewels and Youlry.com?
It all comes to customer experience ultimately, and in the times we are all living in, experience is the first and often the last word in a brand and customer’s relationship.
8. How are you using social media to promote your homegrown brand?
My team and I firmly believe in the power of the progressive new not just as the logical next step but as an inherent one. Our brand verse is founded on this value. As such, we are going full throttle when it comes to a well-rounded and omnichannel approach towards social media. Whether it be Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, or WhatsApp we leverage all of the popular platforms to connect our clients with our product, value, and brand offerings in a seamless manner.
Creatively as well, our latest campaign, the Youlry.com Grand Heist Campaign was strategized as a successful booster tool for online sales. In terms of online visibility for creative content, we are also committed to blogging which we believe is a robust backbone for brand presence in terms of discoverability and search. We have dedicated deep content and exclusive blog sites that are continually populated with interesting trend forecasts, style guides, and industry innovations across brands.
9. What is your 5-year plan for Khimji Jewels and Youlry.com?
We are in the process of taking our brand online and integrating it with the internet-of-value to create a truly global experience for our worldwide clientele. We want to recreate the same personalized, trust-based customer experiences that resonate with the profound and familiar sense of in-person shopping through various API and cloud-integrated collaborations for technically superior consumer encounters.
In the case of Youlry.com, the brand was already on the cloud at the point of genesis. So our aspirations for it are more focused on creative and fulfilling value addition where we shift the appeal of fine jewellery into a cross-category of gender-neutral, inclusive, and fluid jewellery that is versatile for the wearer.
10. One advice/suggestion you’d like to give aspiring entrepreneurs out there.
There will always be challenges and adversities in whatever you do or plan to do. Do it anyway. There will always be wise and experienced people telling you to be cautious and mature. Be cautious and mature but do it anyway. There will always be good days and bad days and successful days mixed in with not-so-successful days. Do it anyway. There is never the right time for anything. So do it anyway.
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