Redefining gold as bold, online jewellery startup Melorra challenges the idea of gold jewellery being heavy and suited only for traditional celebrations. Set up in 2016, the Bengaluru-based brand is aiming for $1 billion in revenue by 2025. Saroja Yeramilli, Founder and CEO of Rs 350-crore revenue fine jewellery startup, talks to Business Today about the brand's journey, expansion plans and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the company's business.
Excerpts from the interview: -
How has your entrepreneurial journey been?
For a long time, I felt women were looking for lightweight, more contemporary jewellery that could be worn on a daily basis. A lot of the jewellery that we buy for weddings go into our bank lockers. I met so many young women who felt that heavy jewellery was a security hazard. What a pity that is because jewellery is a beautiful accessory that should be enjoyed rather than be kept in a bank locker. More and more young women told me that they were not jewellery people.
I thought it was a problem. I found that when I looked around for jewellery I couldn't find affordable, fashionable jewellery that goes with the western attire I wear on a daily basis. For most founders, it is the case of searching for a solution to a problem that they faced. It was the same for me and that's how the Melorra journey started.
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What makes Melorra different?
We are like the Zara of the jewellery industry. The vision is to bring fast fashion model into jewellery where we launch a collection every week - every Friday we launch 75 designs - all of them inspired by global fashion trends.
We are making gold fashionable for the younger woman as it is seen as a grand mom's product. We are breaking that barrier and saying gold can be whatever you want it to be.
We send our team to the Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks. We pick 26 micro-trends that all the global fashion brands are launching in India and every week we make a collection that beautifully accessorises those styles. Melorra jewellery is available at pocket-friendly price points. The idea is to make women buy jewellery just as they do in any other fashion category.
We are India's largest distributed jewellery company today. We have delivered to over 2,600 towns. We have even delivered to rural India. The power of the internet has put the power of purchasing in the hands of consumers everywhere.
Our jewellery is hallmarked. It is not handmade but is cast gold jewellery, so the finish is superb. Every product is put through 25 quality checks before it is shipped out. We offer a 30-day money return policy and a lifetime exchange policy. All these have helped us win the trust of the consumers.
Ours is a no inventory model. Once you place the order, we get the jewellery made and deliver it to you within 10-12 days. This gives you the option of customisation. It also allows us to introduce many unique designs every month. Every product is custom-made for the end consumer.
What kind of funding have you received till now?
We have so far raised $31 million in equity and another $2 million in venture debt. We raised India's largest seed fund of $5 million in 2015. Since we are not a very capital heavy model, we don't need to raise a lot of money.
What are your expansion plans?
We have started our offline expansion plans. We have set up 6 brand experience centres which are very different from the traditional jewellery stores.
These are new age and contemporary in design. We have announced that we will open 350 such experience centres over the next 5-6 years.
Having said that, online is a very big focus for us and will continue to scale. At heart, we are a digital company, so we have brought in digital technology even at our experience centres. You can browse the entire digital catalogue of 13,000 designs at our experience centres.
Ours is a harmonised retail approach where online and offline are not in silos. It is one convergence of consumer shopping.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact you?
Last year we were badly impacted. We had to shut down our operations for almost three months. Even when we were allowed online deliveries, a lot of manufacturers were shut as workers had left for their homes. So, from April-July was a very rough period. But after that, the bounce back has been terrific.
We reached our pre-covid revenue figures in November 2020. Consumers are now more comfortable shopping online.
Also, our ticket sizes have gone up. Our average ticket size has grown by 50-60 per cent. People are now even shopping for heavier products online and are spending a lot more on feel-good products.
Customers are buying a lot more gold because it is always a safe investment. We have also seen a demographic shift. We have seen older customers becoming very comfortable shopping online. We will also launch our international website by the end of the year as we get a lot of enquiries. Our designs are so contemporary that they are relevant everywhere.
What is your revenue and at what level are you growing?
We are growing at 200 per cent annually for the last three years. Right now, our revenue is around Rs 350 crore. We are one of the largest DTC (direct-to-consumer) brands in India.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
We are aiming for $1 billion in revenue five years from now. We have very clear plans to achieve it. We will surely be the largest daily wear jewellery company in India.
In fact, we will be the largest vertical e-commerce company in the country. Only because the jewellery industry is large, and it provides the opportunity to grow the brand.
Of the current $65 billion, jewellery will be a $100 billion industry in India by then. Daily wear is expected to be 50 per cent of that. So, there is a $50 billion market opportunity. Not only us, but all daily wear jewellery brands have a bright future in India.
What are your expectations from the upcoming festive season?
This year the season will be good for everyone. Consumers are fed up with being locked up. We have a lot of exciting product launches. We have a big campaign coming up and are excited to meet the needs of our consumers this festive season.
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