The journey of Mangatrai began in 1905, and since then the brand has built its reputation on a foundation of versatile choices, designs, services, and innovation. The grandfather-father-son trio and owners of the creative establishment, Neeraj Mangatrai, Radheshyam, Neeraj, and Nayan Gupta, talk with us about the business, the brand, and what sets them apart in an increasingly-crowded field.
What led you to start Mangatrai? How did it take shape later?
Mangatrai is more than a century old and is currently being managed by the fifth generation of the founding family. What gave birth to this brand is both Nizams’ and Hyderabad’s love for pearls. Initially, we only dealt with pearls but later ventured into complete jewellery.
We’re known for both today. What’s in the pipeline for the brand?
Presently, there are pearl boutiques of Mangatrai in Chennai and Bangalore. We plan to expand the brand to other cities over the next few years.
What are your approaches and some of the key challenges you face in your business?
We try to make jewellery affordable for our customers and offer more than what they pay for a particular piece. Low costs help us reach out to more people. Coming to the challenges, you cannot ignore the fact that competition is prevalent in any business. New jewellery brands spring up every year, and maintaining your own uniqueness in the market can get a little complicated. For us it’s different, though. We’ve always come out with flying colours due to our creativity, quality, customer service and, most importantly, customer satisfaction. And with that, our challenges are overcome!
How do you strike a balance between creativity and functionality in your pieces?
Jewellery is becoming very expensive. Now everybody wants to make use of their pieces in more ways than one. We bring in the functional aspect to our jewellery by providing flexible options. For example, one big necklace can be detached and turned into two small, completely different and independent necklaces. Our customers can wear those for two small parties and, when combined, to a bigger party. We also give them options to change the coloured stones in an item. They can simply interchange the colour of the stones to match their outfits, and they have a new piece to wear! We offer these functional pieces, apart from customised and ready-to-wear jewellery at our store. Our karigars and in-house designers are adept in providing variety in our offerings.
What’s your advice to students pursuing jewellery design?
This industry is growing by the day. It’s a great career option and helps develop a student’s creativity. So bring out your best, and you’ll surely flourish.
How do you divide the work between the two of you?
We divide our work based on our skills. My father takes up those works that he’s good at, and I do what I’m good at. The association we share at work is somewhat like a ‘consulting relationship’, where he consults me in my job and I consult him in his. This way, we are both on the same page and have things laid out clearly between us. This also helps us walk on the same path of our set objectives.
What inspires your designs? How do you go about designing the pieces?
We draw inspiration from many things! For instance, with coloured stones, we buy them without even thinking about what we’re going to make out of them. And we design something new and unique and offer this to our clients. We also experiment with various materials. We sometimes even fuse two completely different materials and create something so unique that it’s difficult to find a similar piece elsewhere.
How do set yourself apart from other jewellery brands?
Our brand offers products that are new and creative. This is the result of constant innovation. We have an in-house designer who tries to show our customers something new every time they enter our store. I wouldn’t be wrong in saying that our store has at least four or five new pieces on display, every day! We offer a huge variety of ready-to-wear items at the store. Importantly, the designs of the pieces we’ve already sold are never the same as what have on display. That is, we don’t re-make the same piece of jewellery that a customer has already purchased. This policy gives us somewhat of an edge over the others, as what we offer to our customers, along with creative designs, is exclusivity. We avoid repeating or replicating the same designs. Also, our impeccable customer service is another key here.
Where do you see jewellery trends going over the next few years?
I see the trend moving towards culturally-inspired pieces, which is traditional jewellery. People want to acquire jewellery that reflects older traditions and unique work. Since they’re also looking at more premium work and premium-quality stones, jewellery is gradually turning into more of a luxury purchase. – as told to Sumana