Chandni Dassani - CEO and Co-Founder, Etasaa Home & Lifestyle
Chandni Dassani – CEO and Co-Founder, Etasaa Home & Lifestyle

Launched on 15th October 2016, Etasaa finds its roots from the Sanskrit language meaning “Desirable beauty”. Every product finds its roots in the hands of Indian Artisans from various small industries. Etasaa has been co-founded by Chandni Dassani who has a strong background in Management, Retail and E-commerce is the CEO and currently heads the Retail, Merchandising & Marketing segment of the business. With her education in Business Management, Fashion & Retail Management from NIFT Bangalore & Product Merchandising from Chelsea College of Arts, London, Chandni has worked with the top most retail companies in India like Genesis Luxury, Madura Fashion & Lifestyle, Arvind Brands and Snapdeal. She is also the founder of Women’s Power Meet which is a women entrepreneurship platform. She has been a speaker at Women Economic Forum and also a features blogger for several publications.

The second co-founder is Vineeta Dassani, who is an expertise in Interior & Product Design currently is the Creative Director of Etasaa and heads all design and operations of the firm. With her education in Design from SNDT, Mumbai, Vineeta has worked with Collaborative Architecture, Mumbai on multiple projects. With her 10 years of work experience she currently also is a Creative Partner at Total Interiors Solution in Delhi. Both Chandni & Vineeta have known each for several years and started working together in 2016 when they co-founded Etasaa. It was just a mere coffee meeting which now remains their incubation memory of Etasaa. We are publishing an interview with Ms. Chandni.

Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles.
We are a very small team consisting of 6 people.
Chandni Dassani – CEO (Heading Retail, Business Management, Merchandising & Marketing).
Vineeta Dassani – Creative Director (Heading Product Design, Operations & Sales).

Vineeta Dassani - Creative Director and Co-Founder, Etasaa Home & Lifestyle
Vineeta Dassani – Creative Director and Co-Founder, Etasaa Home & Lifestyle

We have one Merchandiser and Vendor Manager, one Junior Designer and a Warehouse staff currently. Currently we are expanding our team and soon would have a double digit team!

Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
We are striving to bridge the gap between luxury and affordable brands. We realized there was a big gap for the middle and the upper middle-class demographic purchase pattern around us. They had great taste but often ended up buying products which were compromised in style, quality or were just copies of a luxury brand. We thought of this as an opportunity and started Etasaa, where we focused on design, aesthetics, affordability and good quality in lifestyle products. We are simply making luxury affordable.

Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
It was a simple logic, we needed to make fantastic products in an affordable range. Our market was clear to us, but we constantly experimented with various styles and designs to make a concrete brand. Since we are not a single product business, for us it’s about having a use for every product we make. We started identifying utility in every product we designed, and always thought methods to add value for the end consumer. And that is what clicked, and hence today we have over 60% loyal consumer base who shop with us every season.

Q.: What is your USP?
Our brand USP is our design, price points and that we are completely Made in India brand compared to any high street brand. We are constantly making quality conscious products with local artisans and industries in India. We design products throughout the year and strive to achieve our uniqueness through that.

Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Till now, our venture has been completely bootstrapped by our savings and investments. We haven’t yet received any external funding.

Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learnings that you have? Who in your mind is your ideal customer? Do you have atleast one of them signed up?
When we entered the market, we assumed it would be rigid and people would be reluctant to experiment, but to our surprise we learned that people have become really open to new brands and have a good understanding of purchase. The customers now are well travelled and have a strong influence of social media information which has worked to our advantage.

Our ideal customer is one who is clear what they want and understand that the value of a purchase is a combination of design, material and quality. Luckily, we have lot of such customers signed up with who have been a great support system for us.

Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Our biggest failure was rushing into doing too much at first season we launched, due to which we stocked up huge inventories which later has to be liquidated in sale. We learnt from that and moved into a more demand-based model and now plan our inventories much methodically.

Q. How are you pricing the Product? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc. ? Explain your thought process.
Our product pricing is Mid Premium which we think fits best to our target market. Our logic was to reach more customers than just to become a niche brand. With our affordable pricing logic, we were able to start our product range from as low as Rs.80/-, hence we managed to develop a larger consumer base and also encourage repeat purchases from the brand.

Q.: How did you get your first customer?
We got our first customer through a Retail Pop Up for our launch in October 2016. Indeed we got a great set of clients during that show.

Q.: Is there any interesting success story? If yes, please write about it. ?
Well, we indirectly became a part of the wedding décor for Isha Ambani’s wedding. We customized 12 Venetian Mirrors with dimensions of 7ft X 4ft in a span of mere 30 days which were put up on her wedding day décor. We got the order through a third party and didn’t know until we saw the pictures on Instagram. It was one of our biggest moments since we never imagined that our young homegrown brand would be a part of the biggest wedding of the year.

Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
We are now launching two more brands in coming months under Etasaa Home & Lifestyle for Wedding and Gifting sector. We intend to continuously expand and create multiple business channels from our brand over next few years.

How Two Women Entrepreneurs Are Sustaining Indian Craftsmanship by Their Startup

Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? What is the current turnover? (From Launching till date total no. of visitors on website/persons registered/enquiries and enrollment). Please explain in details:
In the span of last two years we have managed to break even, and target to incur profits this financial year. Our consumer base has increased 10 times from inception and on an average, we get more than 700 new customers every year. We also expanded to a B2B segment and now we work with renowned wedding planners, bakers, corporates & brands regularly.

Q.: What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
As a personal experience, the décor industry has a very seasonal market in India. People are slowly getting conscious of homes, but still it’s a very difficult market to penetrate in. Price consciousness is a factor and sometimes due to changing trends, competitors copy products very easily and there is no law protecting that.

Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Well, we are in a country with so many young entrepreneurs, so for us anyone who is in the lifestyle sector is competition. We cannot point a name since we have different ideology as a brand and our efforts are focused to create a unique brand identity for ourselves. We are differentiating ourselves in terms of collections, approach, and customer relations. We personally talk to our customers for feedback and service them many times on personal level, which is not the case in maximum brands.

Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
We are targeting to convert our turnover 5 times in the coming 6 months and successfully launch our new Wedding and Gifting segments for the coming festive season.

Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Keep Hustling, it’s not easy but if you are still able to sleep happy, then it’s the right thing.

Q.: Any other information you would like to share?
Thanks Chandni. Best wishes.