Biren Vaidya: Jewellery Wholesaling With A Difference
Biren Vaidya, managing director and design chief of The Rose Group, believes that the future is all about upping your retail game. He is willing to share his vast experience and build customised lines to help the industry grow. Solitaire caught up with him at the IIJS for an exclusive interview.
Rose is into luxury jewellery retail, so what made you exhibit at IIJS?
In 2004, when we started our retail store Rose, we were wholesaling and working with about 5-6 select retail brands and stores – two overseas and four in India. Post that in 2014, Sachin Jain of Forevermark approached me to bring out collections for them as he appreciated my design aesthetics. On the retail part, I said yes, but he convinced me to collaborate on the wholesale side of their business as well. At that point in time, I decided to give it a shot. I started attending the Forevermark Forums, and one thing led to another and slowly we had a team and we were increasing our wholesale business every year. It was growing quite well for us.
This year, we have done multiple collections addressing the various requirements of retailers. One was a collection where people were doing stackables and so was Forevermark, but we took it to another level; we came up with a collection called Rac N Stac. Forevermark came up with a 50 pointers collection called Your Better Half; we brought out our own version and called it One in a Billion.
All these collections got an exceptional response at the recently concluded Forevermark Forum. Post that we did a Devi collection that addresses two things: one is I believe we need to bring our Indian traditional art to the fore; and we gave a modern touch to the close gem setting of South India; and the second was to give a jeweller an option to curate his own Devi collection from over 6,000 designs – so no two jewellers will have similar pieces of that collection.
So we do generic jewellery for each store, according to their tastes and designs or the brand, and we also do wholesaling with Forevermark.
Do retailers have to sell your jewellery under the Rose brand?
In any other part of the world, they would be smart enough to do that. In our country, they’re short-sighted. So I have no problem if they sell it under their name; I don’t bother about that. They’re even scared to use the collection’s name. But they’ll learn and come of age – because overseas if you’re selling a watch, you’d rather use the watch name;
if you’re selling some brand’s jewellery, you’d rather get that aspiration. Here, retailers have a different sense of security or perhaps insecurity.
Collections that I do for Forevermark, go under the Forevermark brand, but it is designed and the intellectual property (IP) is ours, so retailers have to manufacture with us. You can retail it in your store, you can put it as “Mr. XYZ Jeweller and Forevermark”, but at the back end the manufacturing has to be by Rose, because the design and IP is mine and not Forevermark’s.
With its expanded manufacturing capability, why isn’t Rose adding more stores?
We have two stores at present in Mumbai and Delhi. We are very clear; we will expand our business when we see the potential in every market to be able to sustain a store. As of now in India, for our kind of product, there are two markets, Mumbai and Delhi. People from all the other cities are coming to our two stores. And we also do private shows in cities such as Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, etc. So we’re covering 6-7 cities besides Mumbai and Delhi, and we have a whole separate team that only does road shows.
Any high-end brand, before it starts to market, sees the sustainability of the client base and builds up that way. You just don’t start stores. And that’s the smart way to do it, right?
We’re a very conservative company. We’re self-financed, so we like to take steps very, very carefully. This is also a very high-asset, capitalintensive business, so one has to be very careful before taking such steps if you want to stay debt-free.
If you look at brands like Patek Philippe, which are yet a family company, they prefer growing according to their own strengths. And the customer comes looking if he aspires for the brand. It’s not necessary for you to be really out there.
The high-end jewellery business is a lot about relationships and trust, which takes time to build. But we know our game, we’ve spent 37 years. We ensure that we don’t miss out our customers and they don’t miss our collections because we do a lot in the higher-end pieces, treasures which are one of a kind in the world, and we have a story behind each one of them.
What are your plans for the future?
Jewellery is an art form, and I enjoy my art. I’ve crossed the 50-year mark. I have told my children that the world is now free to get knowledge from the cloud, so for the jewellery industry that is what I’m going to do. I have done what I could for Rose, and with this wholesale business I’m willing to build collections that will help other retail stores understand what the future is coming to. It’s going to be about brands, experience, stories, aspirations, etc. I don’t think our retail game is ready for that. I’m trying to do my bit – whoever wants to get that knowledge from me, it’s for free. Now it’s up to them.
Through my wholesale business, I hope that others get an inclination of what I’m doing. If Rose makes a collection, we give you everything, right from the point of sale (POS) material to the marketing, etc. I just cannot fathom why a jeweller would not want to take something like this – free – without my name; the jeweller can put his/her name and Forevermark is willing to advertise for it for that jeweller. It’s an opportunity for the world to be able to start getting into this space.
Biren Vaidya stands proudly beside his creations at the Rose booth at IIJS.