A home store housed in a home. That is what best defines Chennai’s Eartheque. Brainchild of Shilpa Darshan Kumar, this elite store catering to the ‘superior furnishing needs’ is a treat to the eye. We take a walk at the store.
With residential real estate in India catching the fancy of young and old alike with elite housing options, the onus on the interiors of the house too has increased multifold. Nilkamal’s @home, Landmark’s Home Centre and Future Group’s Home Town were the early entrants in the category of home furnishing and at individual levels there were a handful of stores with niche offerings. Since a couple of years, we are witnessing a rise in home décor and home furnishing stores being launched by budding entrepreneurs and connoisseurs of art. Spread across 1500 sq.ft. of space in Chennai, Eartheque is one of such store launched by Shilpa Darshan Kumar. According to Kumar, the name chosen means – dance with the earth. She explains, “Earth and Discotheque become – Eartheque.”
Established a year ago, the store is on its way to creating a mark in manufacturing and supply of select range of decorative, customised furniture and also customised stones. When we say ‘customised’, we mean that at this store, you can walk in and literally tailor make extravagant materials for your floor, walls and ceilings. Kumar helps us to understand this more, “With the focus in providing masterpieces, Eartheque is a first of its kind store in India to accommodate the special needs of the customers by customising tiles, mosaic, marbles etc. according to their requisites.” Ensuring that the customer is not misled into believing that because they offer ‘customisation’, the wallet would have to be loosened quite some bit, Kumar quickly adds in, “Our focus is on developing and designing quality products at reasonable price range.”
A walk into the store and elegance greets you at each step. Since the store is housed in a old house and not a commercial property, one simply cannot miss the warmth of entering a ‘home’. Care has been taken to ensure that at no point within the store, the store looks like a ‘store’. Built over a period of almost 18 months, the team had to put in extra effort as in its earlier avatar, it was an old house in “rambles”. Kumar shares, “The interiors are done in such a way that it reflects the USP of the store. Since the store was a house previously, it has helped us design the store with the warmth of a home. The ambiance is subtle, contemporary, the products itself is being used for the ambience in the store to give the enriching experience. ” Adding on to the initial challenge faced while putting the store together, she says, “The whole place was an old house which was in rambles which is now a beautiful space. It took us about a year and half to restructure the whole place. The challenge that we faced was to try not to destroy the structure of the house while trying to build an entire new space.” Launched in April 2014 with an initial investment of Rs. 1.5 crores, Kumar hopes to break-even by the end of 2015.
To ensure that the products stand out, the walls and the floors are white and the lighting used is warm. Where the ground floor is used to showcase the general merchandise, the first floor is dedicated for high end furnishing options. In terms of extending a rich experience to their customers, Kumar has trained her staff to treat each customer as a guest and welcome them accordingly. The store houses a refrigerator that is filled with “goodies”, refreshments and juices to be served to the customers and make them feel at home.
The store has managed to generate a positive patronage online through various social media platform. Kumar is on her way to launch an exclusive Eartheque online store as well. The success of her first store has also given her inspiration to launch stores across the other cities of South India and take Eartheque in the Middle East as well with a store in Dubai that is in the offing. She shares, “I plan to launch Eartheque in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Coimbatore and Madurai very soon.”