Engaging Customers through India’s Art and Crafts – the Story of Kalanjali
Indian heritage manages to catch the fancy of people across the globe. No wonder the shops which deal in handicrafts, arts and artifacts are a hit at any of the Indian airports or locations close to the airports. A lot many of such stores also find a prominent place in 5-star hotels. Kalanjali Arts and Crafts is one such name that its patrons vouch for when it comes to authentic Indian arts and crafts. Brainchild of the Ramoji Group of Hyderabad which also has other business interests like publishing, film production and distribution, film studios, satellite television, financial services, hospitality and tourism, processed foods and handlooms, Kalanjali Arts and Crafts also has to its credit the setting up of India’s first fully functional ecommerce site for exclusive Indian arts and crafts.
A Humble Journey
Very well defining the concept of Kalanjali Arts and Crafts, Sailaja Kiron, director, Kalanjali shares, “Kalanjali is primarily a retail chain promoting hand-made products like handicrafts, handloom products, ethnic and traditional sarees, dress materials and other women’s wear with very rich hand-work. It is a tribute to art and a celebration of beauty. ”
Established in 1992, Kalanjali aptly reflects the rich Indian tradition, culture, history extending Indian skills in the area of arts and crafts. Says Kiron, “Kalanjali’s handcrafted Indian textiles, steeped in tradition, are the living heritage of the glory of Indian subcontinent. Our thrust has always been on the design development and fabric construction of ready to wear garments. Enthused by the positive response from our customers we built the brand “Kalanjali” on a pan India basis by establishing showrooms at Baroda, Ahmedabad, two in Bangalore; apart from 3 outlets in Hyderabad itself and many more are in the pipe line across India.”
Apart from apparels and textiles the store is the sacred place to find the secrets of India’s most beautiful works of art like rare and exquisite pottery, unique metal ware, woodcraft, paintings and more. Adds Kiron, “It has the largest and the most exclusive collection of Indian Handicrafts. Kalanjali is an enriching experience into rich Indian tradition and cultural heritage. It is much more than just a purchasing experience.”
What perhaps sets this store stand out is its commitment in the perseverance of specific Indian art which in some cases ran into the danger of becoming extinct. Says Kiron, “We conceive our role as an effective link between the artisan producer and the customers. We have undertaken an extremely imaginative approach to present the rich panorama of the traditional handicrafts practiced in different regions of India in their depth and variety.” Commenting on the competitors for the brand, Kiron says, “There are hardly any competitors for our kind of range, the widely known brand with pan India basis has simple garments which are just plain where as we construct garments from Pure Handloom Fabrics.”
Kiron’s dedication reflects in the tag line of Kalanjali “our weaves are our worship”; true to her spirit, warps and wefts underwent a transformation, with designer and trendy inputs, new formats evolved from the old tradition but all this to keep in sync with the market dyunamics though utmost care was always undertaken not to mess around with the authentic essence of the India heritage the product carried with it. Her guidelines to her inspired team has always been to sustain the regional character of a product.
Shares Kiron, “This journey of 18 years been very tough particularly because the craftsmen were very reluctant to adapt anything new; were not willing to walk beyond the traditional domain in terms of materials, techniques and design. Kalanjali imbibed in their DNA to explore further, loom widths have been modified to make fabrics of varied needs. Lots of experiments have been done in the combination of warps and wefts.”
In the field of Handicrafts Kalanjali can take the privilege of calling itself a “savior” of several perishing crafts like silver filigri, bidri etc. Shares Kiron, “The artisans of this particular crafts were shifting to alternative employment opportunities because of lack of demand, marketing support and lack of capital particularly being expensive nature of work. At that juncture, we not only supported them financially but also provided design inputs to make the product gel with times thus giving them a good marketing platform to reach to the larger audiences.”
Talking about the ecommerce facility being extended by Kalanjali, Kiron says, “Shopping at Kalanjali is quick, easy and safe. One can place orders from anywhere in the world for delivery worldwide. Kalanjali accepts all Indian and International Credit/Debit cards, in addition to offering a host of other payment options. It also employs stringent security measures; to ensure customers shopping experience is safe either off line or online at www.kalanjali.com .”
Keeping itself abreast with technology, each merchandize at the store is bar coded and the store representatives have a live access to all the branches for inventory management and any recent decisions made by the governing board. There is an in-house library and premium membership facility for designers and the executive staff for continuous improvement and design development.
The brick and mortar store as well as the online store caters to audiences across socio-economic classes where one can come across products starting from Rs. 9/- each to Rs. 99, 99,999/- each in the premium category. Though according to Kiron, bulk of the brand’s sale comes from the premium category.
Some of the prominent categories of Items are as following.
Textiles- sarees, ready-to-wear women’s wear, yardage, unstitched material, textile accessories, men’s wear, kid’s wear etc.
Handicrafts – wood wares, art metal ware, paintings, stone wares and marble artifacts, jewelry, leather, pottery and ceramics, paper and paper products, cane and bamboo etc.
Retail Presence and Future Plans
Kalanjali showroom (including the textile division), stores and administrative office together is spread over an approximate area of 1,50,000 Sft. Kalanjali has mega plans, its adding up another 70,000 sft very shortly across India and is looking forward to have its presence in every major city of India.
16-11-1992 Handicrafts and Handloom showroom at Hyderabad
04-09-1995 Textile showroom at Hyderabad
15-02-2002 Textile flagship showroom at Hyderabad
09-10-2002 Textile showroom at Vijayawada
24-03-2006 Handlooms mini showroom at Paradise, Hyderabad
04-10-2008 Textile showroom at Vizag
09-10-2008 Textile showroom at Kukatpally,Hyderabad
01-06-2008 Handlooms mini showroom at Total Mall, Bangalore
04-09-2008 Handlooms mini showroom at Baroda
01-03-2010 Handlooms mini showroom at Manrti Mall, Bangalore
08-04-2010 Textile showroom at Manrti Mall, Bangalore
16-11-2005 Brisah – Luxury exclusive ladies wear showroom
penned for STOrai magazine