In Conversation with Anand Bhatija, the third generation founder of Curio Cottage

  1. Tell us a little about yourself & your experience in the jewellery industry? 

My name is Anand Bathija, I am the 3rd generation owner of Curio Cottage.  We opened our first store in Mumbai in a quiet lane in the heritage precinct of Colaba, Mumbai in 1971. I personally have been involved with the business for over two decades. In these two decades, I have spent time receiving formal training in jewellery design, coloured stones and even grading of diamonds. However, most of the valuable knowledge that I have gained – has been ‘on the job’, literally! 

2.  How was the idea of ‘Curio Cottage’ born? 

In 1971, when we started off, we dealt with handicrafts, curios, silver artifacts and jewellery. Also, that is where the name “Curio” came from. In those times, we were a single store brand with one tiny store, hence “Cottage” for the warm and cozy store feel. Hence Curio Cottage is what we stuck with! As time passed, we saw a marked preference for our jewellery designs with our local clients and we grew organically as a brand. However, we chose to stick to the same name for the warm & fuzzy feels. 

3.  With Silver by Curio Cottage being introduced, tell us a little more about the silver jewellery market?  

Silver as a metal is something that I have always had a personal fondness for. I think there is something very ‘earthy’ about it. For me, silver jewellery is more of a feeling than a product! Working in the silver jewellery market is what makes me really happy. I honestly know that there are very few designers that indulge in high quality silver as compared to the past and the primary reason behind Silver by Curio Cottage was to bring quality craftsmanship at an honest price to all my clients. 

4.  Who is the target audience for Curio Cottage? 

At Curio, age is really a number! For us, it is more about how people like to dress and wear their jewellery. We have clients in their twenties adorning a classic piece while women twice their age rocking an eclectic statement necklace better than anyone ever could! So, for anyone who is on the look-out for an interesting piece of silver or fashion jewellery, they are our target audience. 

5.  With so many brands in the customized and fashion jewellery space, what has been the brand strategy to keep the name alive and one of the most popular ones in the city? 

At Curio Cottage, our customer is the center for all our decisions. We are here to solve our customer’s problems! Thus, we perform in-depth market research on the current trends, ask our customers what their preferences are and assist them in any service that they might need. In the end, it is all about giving our customers the best quality product that they need. With too many brands crowding the jewellery market, most of them tend to implement a short-term plan with compromises on quality, unrealistic prices and maximum profit maximization which is unfortunate. 

6.  Take us through your design ideas, jewellery trends, customisation possibilities and approximate price ranges? 

At Curio Cottage, we implement a 90-day plan for all our designs. With a fair share of experience in the jewellery business, we have fortunately been able to predict the jewellery trends and client preferences. We indulge in detailed research about the latest market trends, color pallets for each season and new launches by designers. On the basis of these parameters, we stock up on raw material and create a beautiful set of jewellery range. We also customise our jewellery according to our client requirements as per their dresses and the theme of their functions. Additionally, we have managed to revive quite a few pieces of sets with different stones when our clients do not prefer their old and monotonous looking jewellery! In terms of pricing, our range starts at Rs 1000 onwards and mostly goes up to Rs 25000 for our bridal fashion jewellery. As for pure silver, that category is a little more expensive.

7.  Jewellery plays a big role in every Indian wedding. How do you cater to Indian brides? What has been your best-selling jewellery trend and marketing mantra for brides & their entourage? 

We love the fact that most Indian brides know exactly what they want and come in with a fair share of research when they are buying our jewellery. Their knowledge and understanding help us guide them better and thus our aim lies in suggesting pieces that will make them look great on their big day but something that wouldn’t over-power their face or dress. It all has to be in sync with each other! As for the current trend, pastel tones are doing really well and colours like powder pink, ash grey and mint green are doing really big, something that we did not expect a few years ago. We then adapt to these colours and ingrain them to the looks of our brides. 

8.  With most people investing in gold jewellery, how would you encourage them to invest in silver? 

If you were to ask me what are the benefits, I would say that with gold prices reaching a level of around 50k, the metal is sitting at an outpriced number for most people, as an investment at least. That way, silver gives you a much lower entry point to buy something precious. Also, traditionally silver prices move in tandem with gold and the silver prices have risen 800% in the last two decades itself while holding an intrinsic value at the least!

9.  What is the plan ahead for Curio Cottage in terms of growth, investment, new jewellery trends, etc? 

With the unfortunate situation of a pandemic, we were forced to put our expansion plans and investments on hold for a while! We also noticed a decline in customers at our store, especially in the first couple of months. Fortunately, that gave us the opportunity to digitalize our operations. And now, we are looking to go down that road and reach out to more people through social media and our digital channels.

10.  Would you like to share some advice to budding start-ups or to someone that has a business idea and is contemplating it? 

Having been in the business for a long, I have noticed too many people who are just focussed on launching a generic product under a brand name. However, I would suggest that you work on your business model as much as you work on your brand. In my opinion, good branding and PR do go a long way but it can never fix a bad business. So, ensure that you draw up a tight business model first and then go bang on at launching your brand.

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