‘Conscious purchases and recognition of design crafts is a global trend’

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By Puja Gupta

New Delhi– Chumbak’s products are loved for their design identity which is an eclectic mix of various art forms, colours and techniques. It doesn’t shy away from colours, and that what makes their product stand out.

A lot of their inspirations come from art forms and cultures from across the world. “Yes, a bunch of our products have a modern take on Indian art and we’ve been appreciated for that. We are always actively looking out for new and interesting techniques, fabrics, textures etc to add more value to our products,” says Shubhra Chadda, Director — Product and Design, Chumbak.

“From introducing collections that represent our own take on central India’s Gondh art to drawing detailed illustrations of Central Asia’s Suzani textiles for our furnishings range, we’ve done it all. The key is to represent our take on these amazing age-old techniques and practices.”

Read excerpts from the IANSlife interview with Chadda:

Over the past 10 years what has worked for the brand and what’s hasn’t?

Chadda: Chumbak’s unique design and aesthetics are what have set the brand apart and proven to be a key factor for success. Our products are quite distinct and are instantly recognizable at someone’s home. That seems to be something that makes our customers keep coming back to us.

Of course, one distinct design element that we observed working for us is the owl and the feedback was so great that eventually, the owl started popping up in products, packaging, and store designs. Soon it became mnemonic and is now an integral part of our brand identity.

It’s difficult to pinpoint any one thing that has not worked. The last ten years have been a journey of constant learning and unlearning. Most of this learning is driven by direct interactions with our customers and community, supported by our sales data. We’ve focused on what our customers like and expanded our product offering to suit their evolving lifestyles and tastes.

What goes in the making of a product and working with local artisans and craft workers from different states?

Chadda: The design team has a vision board of all techniques, crafts, art forms they’d like to take on. This vision board could be thematic or specific to a particular cultural reference. Once a certain direction is closed upon, it’s detailed to include colour pallets, design motifs, variations, and more. These are then tweaked for the product category it’ll be best suited for.

Every member of the Chumbak design team brings the unique aesthetics and viewpoints to the team. All the illustrations are original artwork and are usually hand drawn using various digital software. Once the designs are finalised, we work with suppliers to get samples made as per the artwork shared. Physical samples are reviewed, feedback shared and approved for final production.

A lot of times, we work directly with skilled artisans from across the country like Kashmir, Jaipur etc to help us bring our vision to life.

Share key strategies and changes adopted by the brand to create a global brand image.

Chadda: The critical aspect here is our brand values. From our inception, we’ve consistently engaged in a dialogue with our community and customers. This approach has benefited our brand and business immensely. We’ve managed to create a close connect with our community, listened to their inputs and in turn built an extraordinary connect with them. Today, our community members are our ardent brand advocates. These key principles are extended across all touch points, whether it is communication, customer experience or product design.

Building on our brand pillars of wit, warmth and extra mile design, while keeping our community at the centre of everything we do has allowed us to traverse the journey of a specialized product to a wide range home and lifestyle player.

What are your observations in the home decor space and how has Covid-19 triggered a positive impact on the industry?

Chadda: With the pandemic hitting us, we have reoriented our way of living around the four walls of our homes. Needless to say, people are spending more money on home decor to make space more functional and attractive. During these uncertain times, people are deriving joy from redoing their space– making their kitchen more colourful, re-doing their balcony to create a morning coffee spot, doing up their living rooms.

With our joyful range of home decor, dining, garden and outdoors, furnishings, we’ve been able to scale our offerings to meet the growing demand.

What’s your take on conscious consumption and sustainability?

Chadda: It is no longer viable for businesses and individuals to ignore the impact they make on the environment. At Chumbak, we’ve made conscious steps towards reducing the use of materials that are harmful to the environment in our packaging. Since January this year, we started phasing out the use of plastic bubble wrap, Styrofoam fillers and polysterene sheets and instead invested in materials such as eco-friendly paper bubble wrap and a machine that allows us to treat, and shred used cartons to act as fillers. We still have a long way to go to be completely plastic free, but we’ve begun that journey.

We’ve also introduced omnichannel shipping, where a customer order is fulfilled by a fulfillment point closest to them — either our store or warehouses, hence reducing the carbon footprint entailed in shipping orders from a single warehouse in the country.

Why is there an increased demand for local and home grown brands?

Chadda: We believe this shift was underway even before the pandemic began. Conscious purchases and recognition of design crafts is a global trend. India has a huge wealth of crafts, designs, and techniques that are native to us. Home grown and local brands tend to focus on these and have hence seen an uptick in demand. The idea of connecting with our close community, local travel has seen an uptick driven by the pandemic and contributed positively to this demand generation. The core idea is to produce local and consume local. We should support our favorite local businesses by spreading the word about them, this will help them become more visible and reach a wider audience.

What are your future plans for the brand and how does e-commerce play a part?

Chadda: Our future plans would be to scale the online business further, introduce promising new categories and scale the ones that are doing well.

We have expanded our online reach through our own website and partner marketplaces. We’ve invested in omnichannel abilities to ensure the widest range is accessible to our users. Apart from that, major investments have been made to upgrade the customer experience through journey mapping, content revisions, and customer relationship management. (IANS)


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