17 Oct 2017 17:03 IST

Perfecting the fine art of luxury gifting biz

Bengaluru-based start-up Memoire sells ‘affordable luxury’ gift items

Despite a successful start to her professional career in the family-run business of consumer electronics, where she identified and executed the online business on Snapdeal, Flipkart, Paytm and Zopper, and even winning the Flipkart Star Award that is given to the top 100 sellers, Bhavna Goenka, 27, decided to strike out on her own into the luxury gifting business.

She opened Memoire, an 800-sq-ft store in one of Bengaluru’s swish localities last September, showcasing silver and silver-plated artefacts, novelties, tableware, glassware, stationery, wedding and baby shower gifts, candelabra, trays, home décor, crockery, ceramic statues and many more. While the store’s first Diwali sale in October witnessed brisk sales, the very next month sales started plummeting as a result of demonetisation and the following months continued to take its toll on the cash registers.

Determined to turn around the store’s fortunes, Bhavna, who had partnered with just one brand – Episode, to begin with, collaborated with Ekaani and – as a result of this partnership, took on the marketing of classic porcelain products of Noritake (tableware), Versace (tableware) and Rosenthal (vases, showpieces).

Today, Memoire, which involved an initial investment of ₹1 crore, has grown its selection to 400 unique luxury gift items that customers and corporates can cherry-pick to gift at weddings, baby showers, birthdays, anniversaries, to important clients and to reward employees. The store also customises gifts on bulk orders.

‘Memorable memories’

“Memoire, in French, means ‘memorable memories’ and I think each item I have personally selected would lend itself to very memorable moments and memories,” says Bhavna, who is a qualified biotech engineer with a Masters degree in Management from the UK.

“I once received an exquisitely designed return gift — a silver- plated diya, with an equally eye-catching packaging. The gift was from Episode, which is a well-known name in Delhi and Mumbai. I visited their store, loved what I saw and decided to partner with Episode to sell their silver and silver-plated artefacts and novelties,” she recalls.

Pointing out that Memoire retails gift items ranging from ₹500 to ₹5 lakh, Goenka said: “Memoire is an affordable luxury store. I spend a lot of time with my customers, because this is a one-to-one relationship business that requires one to cater to all kinds of taste palettes ranging from the traditional to the contemporary.”

Corporate Gifting is a ₹12,000- crore market in India, growing at 10 per cent year-on-year. However, the luxury gifting market constitutes just 5-7 per cent of the Corporate Gifting market and Memoire plays in this space. “We are ready and stocked up for Diwali, Christmas and New Year, seasons when gifting peaks, and are expecting to generate brisk business.”

Plans more stores

Asked if she plans to open stores in other metros next year, she said, “I want to stabilise this store and make it a success. Once brand Memoire starts resonating with south Bengaluru shoppers, I plan to open more stores in other parts of the city to cater to customers from other catchment areas.”

The Memoire online shopping site will go live in three months and customers from across the country will then have access to Bhavna’s luxury gift items.