Meet the SHEROES - Shweta Mewara.
Today we speak to the Creative Director and co-founder of Gulmohar Lane , Shweta Mewara. Gulmohar Lane is a unique e-tail furniture destination store where designs are conceptualized by the team itself. So what gave rise to the idea of this e-tail venture? Let's read on to find out.
How did the idea of Gulmoharlane come about?
Due to our past jobs we moved cities every 3-4 years which meant we had the opportunity to plan our home décor every few years. Being passionately involved in designing our home we found it quite a task to find a sofa or a piece of furniture that could provide you comfort, beauty and priced fairly all at the same time. In the current scenario either you get options which are over-the-top pieces made in ply-board or cheap quality wood which are wrapped in synthetic polyester fabrics or you find ‘Made in the East’ rubber-wood furniture which cannot even last a year to reveal the shoddy quality. If you were lucky to find something good, the price tag would hold you back. Through Gulmohar Lane my husband Saurabh Ailawadi & I are trying to fill this gap. So, for us, the Indian Online furniture market is a very interesting place to be, where we want to reach out to a large section, offer them a wide range of aesthetically designed products, bring awareness about natural fabrics and introduce them to the age old techniques (e.g. 8 way hand-tied suspension system) of sofa making, all at an attractive price.
Tell us a little about yourself
Though from Jodhpur I mostly grew up in Assam, due my Dad’s job. Just like every other child I never had a clear dream. As I grew the idea what I would do as a grown up kept changing with time. Luckily my parents weren’t ambitious for me (this was the biggest blessing in disguise). I lived a free childhood, oblivious to academic pressures and anxieties about my future (unlike today’s kids lives). I found my focus when I joined NIFT. After working as a womenswear designer for over 7 years I decided to venture out on my own.
What differentiates your e-tail store from other players in the industry?
While most e-commerce players in India today are sourcing and selling furniture on their platforms, at Gulmohar Lane we design our own collections. A product takes about 4-6 months from the stage of conceptualisation to final prototype, before it appears on our website. All our products are designed keeping functionality, comfort and over-all aesthetcs in mind. We as a brand took a conscious call of using only natural fibre blends. While the industry both offline and online(organised & unorganised) is full of synthethic upholstery fabrics, we decide to swim against the tide. We wanted to bring natural fabrics back into the mainstream, therefore it became essential for us to come up with fabric finishes to make these Natural Fabrics hassle free and easy to maintain with finishes which are both Hydrophobic and Oleo-phobic and thus stain repellant. Offering aesthetically made handcrafted products, providing easy customisation through a thoughtfully created customer interface on our webite is how we are being able to differentiate the over-all expirience at Gulmohare Lane. The idea is to provide easy customization options to our customers where they can choose the size, fabric, and fill. A customer can click on a fabric swatch on the product page and see the sofa in that fabric. They can now also order fabric swatches for touch and feel with a click of a button. Also, for the first time in India a customer has an option of getting down feather as a fill to get the most luxurious comfort for sofas, online.
What three tips should e-tail entrepreneurs keep in mind to overcome challenges?
Find your niche: With so many e-tail players and many established mass-market online portals, identifying the gap and tapping your niche is the only way to cut through the competition.
Focus on the product: It’s all that matters in the end. Once you get your product design and quality right, word of mouth marketing would follow naturally.
Create a Brand: With so many new players emerging everyday, to create a strong brand identity becomes essential in occupying consumer mind space.
Information: Provide detailed information about product so a customer doesn’t miss touch and feel. Transparency is key in building trust.
What are your short term plans for the company? Do you hope to diversify into other categories / services?
We are looking at expanding our product line. We will be launching lighting, scatter pillows, a line of tufted beds, sofa cum beds, and expanding our leather furniture line as we are also getting a huge demand for these products.
What words of advice or inspiration do you live by that others can draw from?
An entrepreneurial path is one of continuous learning. You’ll be faced with a unique challenge almost everyday. Enjoying the process would boost and sustain your enthusiasm.