Friday, December 8, 2017

Manipur’s woman scales highs of jewellery business


PUNE: Across the country, women are scaling new highs of business and have proven that they have the capabilities to be successful business leaders. It becomes really hard for a woman from a region like the northeast to establish herself as a successful business woman. But Huidrom Ongbi Rajkumari Sonia from Manipur has fought against all odds to climb the ladder. She has been engaging in jewellery business and has a profound success story since her venture to the foreign markets since 2007. In the western European market, her jewellery designing company Witty Collections has become a popular stop for jewellery buyers.

The beginning

Sonia started her jewellery business in 2002. She set up a shop in Pune with a capital of around Rs 15,000. Before that she worked as a part time shop assistant in Pune and gradually developed interest in jewellery designing. To gain more insights on jewellery designing and business, she took up a course in Gemology from Gods’ Academy, Pune. Eventually Pune became her first trial market. Her new designs of jewellery with semi-precious stone studded became a new taste to foreign clients.

In 2007, she got an opportunity to travel to the US to showcase her products at an expo. She saw competitive designs from different countries and the trip became a learning experience. This opportunity opened doors to the foreign clients. She has grown in leaps and bounds in her jewellery business since 2007 in the Western European Countries and she is planning to expand her business in the USA soon.

Every year, she spends about 9-10 months in Europe, participating at the expos and selling her products to the foreign clients. She spends another 2-3 months in India to work on her design desk and making jewellery products. She designs her products, and then she sends the designs to outsourced factory; collect the products, and then ships to various destinations abroad. Meanwhile, she has to manage deadline for demands for the wholesaler clients and for the expos.

Reasons behind success

On analyzing the reasons behind her successful penetration in the European market, she gave the following mantra:

*  Genuine Product- Her designs make the products standout. The originality of her jewellery has attracted customers and cannot be found in another markets. Such innovative creations make her clients value her products.

*  High Quality-There is zero compromise on the quality of the products. She takes utmost care on maintaining the consistency of the quality. To survive in the business, it is necessary to give attention to customers’ feedback and work on their satisfactions. She makes sure that the customers come back to buy more products from her.

Initially it was really difficult for her to deal with the foreign clients. Now after ten years of experience in the foreign market, Sonia has gain the confidence to deal any situation. She also said that doing business at home is simpler as there are no large involvement of logistics and other travel expenditures.

She got incredible support from her family. She said, “It is a rare situation that a woman has been supported openly in our conservative society to sell the products in foreign markets. Without the support of my family, I could not have achieved this success. It is not easy to do a business in a foreign country. My family helped me to maintain the balance. When my husband passed away two years ago, I became a single parent. It became harder to maintain the business.”

Why not in India?

She believes that keeping a business in India is very tough. She has had bad experience dealing with many dishonest business owners who do not use genuine material such as precious stone. Most of the clients will not know the real quality and they are not willing to pay the price of real and genuine products due to the presence of fake products in the market.

On the other hand, customers in the European countries are more informed about the market and products. Customers will not buy any item if there is a mismatch in the price and product quality.

International presence

Her main markets are Germany, France, Spain and Italy. The following are a few among many of her participation in International shows like Inhorgenta Munich in Munich, Germany, - Madridjoya organized by IFEMA in Madrid, Spain, Mineralien Hamburg in Hamburg, Germany, Hawaii, USA, International Jewellery London in Olympia, London, UK

She has also been invited to the Expo Miner in Barcelona, Spain due this December 2017.

Business prospect in Manipur

What did she sacrifice for this success? She has sacrificed many things in life. She misses her family, home cooked food, and suffers from homesickness. Sonia wants to move her business to Manipur but for now finding raw material and problems related to logistics to other countries are major issues if she operates her business from Manipur.

There could be indirect effects of bandhs and strikes like any other business in Manipur. She does not have immediate plans to venture into the local markets of Manipur because her designs and products are manufactured for the European and other foreign markets. In Manipur, the trend as of now is of gold and a little bit of silver. The public spent bigger budget on pure gold only, and she thinks customers are not ready yet to spent higher amount on precious and Semi-Precious stones and Sterling Silver. But when the market is ready, she would love to broaden her market there.


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