India’s jewelry industry to reach $ 100 billion by 2025: Melorra founder Saroja Yeramilli
Redefining gold as bold, online jewelry startup Melorra challenges the idea that gold jewelry is heavy and only suitable for traditional celebrations. Founded in 2016, the Bengaluru-based brand is targeting $ 1 billion in revenue by 2025. Saroja Yeramilli, founder and CEO of the 350-crore-earning fine jewelry startup, talks to Business Today about the journey brand, expansion plans and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the company’s operations.
Excerpts from the interview: –
How did your entrepreneurial journey go?
For a long time, I felt that women were looking for jewelry that was light, more contemporary and could be worn on a daily basis. Much of the jewelry we buy for weddings goes into our bank lockers. I have met so many young women who thought heavy jewelry was a safety hazard. What a shame because jewelry is a beautiful accessory that should be enjoyed rather than kept in a bank locker. More and more young women have told me that they are not jewelers.
I thought it was a problem. I discovered that when I was looking for jewelry, I couldn’t find affordable and trendy jewelry that would go with the western clothes I wear on a daily basis. For most founders, it’s about finding a solution to a problem they are facing. It was the same for me and that’s how the Melorra journey began.
Read also: Kalyan Jewelers IPO: As good as gold
What makes Melorra different?
We are like the Zara of jewelry. The vision is to bring a fast fashion model into jewelry where we launch a collection every week – every Friday we launch 75 models – all inspired by global fashion trends.
We make gold fashionable for the young lady because it is considered a grandmother’s product. We are breaking down that barrier and saying gold can be whatever you want it to be.
We send our team to Fashion Weeks in Paris and Milan. We select 26 micro-trends that all global fashion brands are launching in India and every week we create a collection that beautifully accessorizes these styles. Melorra jewelry is available at affordable prices. The idea is to make women buy jewelry like they do any other fashion category.
Today we are the largest distributed jewelry company in India. We have delivered to over 2,600 cities. We have even delivered to rural India. The power of the Internet has put purchasing power in the hands of consumers around the world.
Read also: Jewelers Will Pay GST Only On Profits From Resale Of Used Jewelry, Says AAR
Our jewelry is hallmarked. It is not handmade but it is a cast gold piece of jewelry so the workmanship is superb. Each product goes through 25 quality checks before shipping. We offer a 30 day money back policy and a lifetime exchange policy. All of this has helped us gain the trust of consumers.
Ours is a model without inventory. Once the order has been placed, we manufacture the jewel and deliver it to you within 10 to 12 days. This gives you the ability to customize. It also allows us to present many unique designs each month. Each product is tailor-made for the end consumer.
What type of funding have you received so far?
So far, we have raised $ 31 million in equity and an additional $ 2 million in venture capital debt. We raised India’s largest seed fund of $ 5 million in 2015. As we’re not a very capital-intensive model, we don’t need to raise a lot of money.
What are your extension projects?
We have started our offline expansion plans. We have set up 6 branded experience centers that are very different from traditional jewelry stores.
It is a new age and contemporary design. We have announced the opening of 350 such experience centers over the next 5-6 years.
Having said that, online is a very important goal for us and will continue to evolve. Basically, we are a digital company, so we have introduced digital technology even in our experience centers. You can browse the entire digital catalog of 13,000 designs in our experience centers.
Ours is a harmonized approach to retail where online and offline are not silos. It is a convergence of consumer purchases.
Read also: World Gold Council and GJEPC ink pact to promote gold jewelry in India
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you?
Last year we were hit hard. We had to shut down our operations for almost three months. Even when we were allowed to deliver online, many manufacturers were shut down as workers left home. So, from April to July was a very difficult time. But after that, the rebound was tremendous.
We hit our pre-covid revenue figures in November 2020. Consumers are now more comfortable shopping online.
In addition, the size of our tickets has increased. The average size of our tickets has increased by 50 to 60%. People are now even buying heavier products online and spending a lot more on wellness products.
Customers buy a lot more gold because it is still a safe investment. We have also seen a demographic shift. We have seen older customers become very comfortable shopping online. We will also be launching our international website by the end of the year, as we get a lot of requests. Our designs are so contemporary that they are relevant everywhere.
What is your turnover and at what level are you growing?
Our growth has been 200% per year for three years. At present our income is around Rs 350 crore. We are one of the biggest DTC (direct-to-consumer) brands in India.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
We are targeting $ 1 billion in revenue in five years. We have very clear plans to get there. We will surely be the biggest daily wear jewelry company in India.
In fact, we will be the largest vertical e-commerce company in the country. Only because the jewelry industry is important and offers the opportunity to develop the brand.
Of the current $ 65 billion, jewelry will then represent a $ 100 billion industry in India. Daily wear should be 50 percent of that. So there is a $ 50 billion market opportunity. Not only us, but all brands of everyday jewelry have a bright future in India.
What are your expectations for the next holiday season?
This year it will be a good season for everyone. Consumers are fed up with being locked in. We have a lot of exciting product launches. We have a big campaign coming up and we’re excited to meet the needs of our consumers this holiday season.