“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness,” if Mamta Gupta’s career had to be summed up in one line, this would be apt.
Who Is Mamta Gupta?
Mamta Gupta is a co-founder of a New Delhi based international jewellery label, called Zariin Jewelry. In 2010 Mamta along with her sister Vidhi Gupta launched Zariin, and today its sells through over 21 countries and 200 stores worldwide.
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Mamta Gupta has been awarded membership in the prestigious Beta Gamma Sigma International Honors Society and was the chosen Valedictorian at her Convocation. She worked in Chicago from 2004-2010 in branding and strategy consultancy in a US-based Creative Agency.
Zariin Jewelry, under the leadership of Mamta and Vidhi Gupta, has been on a growth trajectory. The growth has been sustainable and organic, and entirely self-financed. Having established a very credible name in the industry and supply chain systems, the brand is now ready to aggressively expand its sales presence.
In an interaction with The Prevalent India, Mamta spoke about how Zariin has been expanded so far over the years and her journey with Zariin Jewellery.
- What motivated you to start your own jewellery business?
The desire and passion to create a jewellery label that would be our happy place and our medium to connect with our inner creativity, and connect with the world, inspired the thought to create Zariin. Vidhi and I had both returned from the United States in 2010. While we were there, we realised that there was no representation from an Indian jewellery label, in the global market, that was high on design, quality, workmanship, was rooted in Indian craftsmanship and yet could speak to the global woman at the same time. This inspired us to study this further, research gemstones, different artisanal crafts and techniques, and ultimately drove us to create our own niche in the everyday jewellery segment, and that’s how Zariin was born.
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- How did you expand your jewellery business over the years?
We launched Zariin in the international market, starting with the United States, and it was received with great success. Within the first 3 months of the launch, we were picked up by Anthropologie, which is a designer’s ultimate dream destination for her work. We did 3-4 trade shows in a year, in Newyork and Las Vegas, and each time, our label was in the spotlight, with trade buyers drawn to our storytelling, which juxtaposed our Indian roots with contemporary jewellery trends that appealed to all. Within the first year of our launch, Zariin was already retailing through over 75 stores in the United States, and from there we took our growth story to the European market where we launched the jewellery through speciality stores in Germany, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland. In 2013, we were awarded the Grazia Young Fashion Award and the Elle Graduate Award in India, and that motivated us to launch our e-commerce site, and that’s how our business expanded from B2B exports, to direct retail, and this was truly the beginning of a fascinating journey. Through our eCommerce portal www.Zariin.com and with the advent of social media, we took our storytelling to the next level as we began sharing stories, Behind the Scenes, design inspirations, style tips, and other editorial content for our viewers. It brought us closer to our community and we always focused on creating relatable experiences.
As our direct retail business grew and found its feet, we expanded on our international trade Eastwards, and Zariin launched in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Today we sell through over 20 stores in Japan, in major cities Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.
The journey of growing Zariin and growing with Zariin over the past 10 years has been nothing short of extraordinary and fulfilling.
- What are some challenges you face as a business owner, in retail, and in the jewellery industry? How do you overcome them?
In the initial period of our launch, when we were primarily in international markets, dealing with customs was very challenging, as we had to frequently encounter bureaucracy and red tape. A young label that picks up momentum and success in a short period of time raises everyone’s curiosity, and not in a very good way. But we stayed grounded in our ethics and principles and overcame the challenges in time. On the retail side, another challenge we had to overcome is educating the buyers. We used to (and still do) work with rough uncut stones, which are basically stones in the most natural state, and were against the prevailing industry standards of polished and treated stones. So while the jewellery user was drawn to the uniqueness and freshness, we also had to educate them that in our aesthetic and design language, no two pieces will ever be the same, as the gemstones are in their most natural state. This, though challenging initially, became our USP, and though we often experiment with different kinds of materials, we often find ourselves returning to our first love- the uncut gemstones, in our new collections. Other challenges involved the nature of business, our jewellery is entirely handcrafted, and because we always kept quality as a paramount and fundamental value, we had to fine-tune the mindset of our jewellery makers and artisans to never settle until it is top-notch workmanship. It took us a while to develop that mindset, but with hard work and patience, all fell into place.
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- What are your predictions for the future of the jewellery industry?
Personalisation and customisation is the way forward in the jewellery industry, as people look at jewellery as a medium of self-expression and communication. DIYs, building your own jewellery through different components will see growth as more people get drawn to this concept. Businesses will have to learn to innovate and make greater use of technology to optimise the journey and their costs in this process, as customisation is not always the easiest to execute at the supply chain end. Sustainability will be more at the fore, as people continue to move away from fast fashion. So there will be a rise in the demand for high quality, timeless pieces, rather than jewellery inspired purely from trends that are here today, gone tomorrow.
- What are your future goals and endeavours for your jewellery business?
We are looking to expand our demographics by building our portfolio for men’s accessories. Our cuff links are always selling out, and I feel the customer is ripe for us, and we need to service them. We are also looking to get deeper into the lifestyle space, as currently our limited portfolio of coasters, bookmarks have all indicated possibilities of growth in these segments. We are continuously upgrading our technology to improve the interface for our customers and make every point of their experience with Zariin a memorable one. We are also looking at the possibilities of opening our flagship store and kick off Zariin shop in shops, a plan which had stalled owing to the advent of the pandemic.
- How would you define success in this role?
Success for me is knowing that the entire Zariin community, be it, my team, in Delhi, artisans in Jaipur, Zariin women worldwide who have lovingly embraced our jewellery in their lives – are all enriched with our label. If our business continues to make lives better through creating moments of happiness and memories and helps the team and our workforce closer to their personal best potential every day, I feel a daily sense of accomplishment. We also feel very humbled when our jewellery proudly shows the tag “Made in India” in some of the finest stores in the different corners of the world, and people associate India with fine quality, luxury and design.
- Tell us about your favourite piece of jewellery and why it’s your favourite.
My favourite piece of jewellery is my go-to uncut stone studs, called the Spirited Stone Studs. They are raw, unpretentious and seamlessly integrate with everything I wear and whatever mood I am in. They come in different colours, and while I wear the baroque pearl ones the most, I also gravitate towards the green chalcedony and amethyst variants. I feel they perfectly frame my face, and I feel much like them when I wear them- “ beautiful in my own state”.
- In what way do you both individually contribute to your brand? Like different minds have different ideas?
My sister and I have our roles cut out well. Vidhi is the Creative Director of the company and leads the design and product development team. Also being a more process-oriented person, she is involved in continuously improving the operations and systems in the company. I head the marketing and growth functions. We interact on a weekly basis in our Founders Meetings, aligning with new ideas, current problem statements, and help each other wherever we are stuck. We have great synergy between us.
- What qualities do you look for in the perfect piece of jewellery?
A good piece of jewellery has to go beyond the product, into the realm of emotions. It should invoke memories, associations and should speak to the person at a metaphysical level. It could be so subtle that only the person wearing it is aware of its presence, or it could be a statement piece that draws two strangers into a conversation. But it has to have a point of view, carrying the voice of the maker. Finally, a perfect piece of jewellery will instantly make the wearer feel a happy vibration, perhaps more self-confident and beautiful and more of herself with that piece on her. That is how I look at jewellery.