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AI, cloud and SaaS play a pivotal role for Banjaaran Studio: Founder Meera Dureja

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Mannu Mathew
Mannu Mathew
With over four years of experience, Mannu Mathew specializes in business journalism with a focus on technology, the retail sector, D2C, and E-commerce brands. He is working as the Assistant Editor for India Retailing and Images Retail Magazine.

Founder Meera Dureja of Banjaaran Studio on the brand story, business model and adding a modern touch to traditional shoemaking

New Delhi: In 2019, Meera and her brother, Karanveer Dureja founded Banjaaran Studio with a vision to create unique, wearable art, infused with deeply personal and emotional connections. The brand sells handcrafted footwear through its e-commerce website.

After introducing their first full-fledged collection ‘MAD MOB’, the siblings launched 15 more collections including Nazar, Bageecha and Patola, of which Bageecha sneakers became a best-seller.

Over the past 3.5 years, they’ve operated on a bootstrap model with an initial capital of approximately Rs 50-60 lakhs. Despite challenges during the pandemic, the company has achieved breakeven and currently maintains a monthly average revenue of around 15-17 lakhs.

The company’s primary focus will continue to be on craftsmanship, quality, and sustainability.

In 2022, Banjaaran Studio became the sole Indian label to be featured in the Virtual Shoe Museum, Netherlands. In the same year, it also collaborated with tech giant Meta on a compelling video showcasing the evolution of the shoe-making business. The company’s unique selling proposition lies in fusing modern design with traditional shoemaking techniques.

Unlike competitors who focus on speed and volume, the Faridabad-based brand prioritises quality over quantity, with attention to detail and sustainable practices.

Banjaaran Studio’s founder Meera Dureja speaks to IndiaRetailing on the brand story, and business model and adding a modern touch to traditional shoemaking.

Edited Excerpts…

What was the idea behind launching Banjaaran Studio?

Banjaaran Studio was conceived as a rebellion against fashion norms, inviting individuals who curate their style around footwear. Our brand appeals to those who recognise the artistry in shoes and embrace them as a centrepiece of their unique self-expression.

You pride yourself on your shoemaking…

We are deeply rooted in the tradition of artisanal shoemaking. We pride ourselves on preserving and celebrating the timeless craft of handcrafting leather shoes in an era dominated by mass production and automation.

Skilled artisans meticulously craft each pair we create. From selecting the finest quality leather to hand-stitching every seam, we believe that this dedication to traditional techniques not only ensures the highest quality and durability of our products but also contributes to the preservation of a rich heritage.

How has your journey been?

In this era dominated by machine-produced shoes, we find ourselves in constant competition. The uniqueness of crafting every shoe to order inevitably leads to longer product lead times compared to instant purchases. Despite the hurdles, this journey is profoundly fulfilling.

Regrettably, the art of crafting handmade footwear is dwindling, overshadowed by the rapid influx of fast fashion and machine-made goods, stripping livelihoods from communities deeply rooted in shoemaking.

Banjaaran Studio’s ethos centres on employing and supporting minority communities with generations of expertise in footwear craftsmanship. This symbiotic relationship ensures them a reliable income—an aspect we find gratifying.

Please shed some light on the company’s business model.

Our business model is centred around blending traditional craftsmanship with contemporary design. Our direct-to-consumer approach allows us to offer high-quality footwear at competitive prices while maintaining a personal connection with our customers through our e-commerce platform.

We collaborate closely with skilled artisans and source only the finest materials for durability, comfort, and timeless style.  Sustainability is a cornerstone of our production process, focusing on responsible material sourcing and waste reduction. Through our e-commerce platform, we provide a seamless brand experience from discovery to purchase.

What do you feel is lacking in the Indian footwear market?

We’ve identified several areas for improvement. Firstly, there needs to be more emphasis on craftsmanship and quality, particularly in the mass-produced segment.

Banjaaran Studio became the sole Indian label to be featured in the Virtual Shoe Museum, Netherlands

Secondly, there’s a growing demand for sustainable and ethically sourced footwear options, reflecting changing consumer preferences. Lastly, while there’s a variety of styles available, there’s room for more diverse design offerings to cater to the evolving tastes of consumers.

What role does technology play in your operations?

Being a slow fashion business necessitates the integration of technology, which serves as the cornerstone. It begins with the strategic use of online ad networks, employing tech-driven marketing strategies that not only generate new leads but also cultivate connections with prospective customers.

Our AI-powered omnichannel marketing software facilitates robust communication that extends from transactional interactions to unveiling new product updates and engaging campaigns, fostering meaningful relationships with our clientele.

Moreover, a cloud-based ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system helps streamline inventory tracking, optimise production planning, and efficient order management.

The very foundation of our online store rests upon a sophisticated SAAS platform, enhancing our operational fluidity and customer experience. We minimise RTO (Return to Origin) by harnessing cutting-edge logistics technology available in the market.

Moreover, we employ secure and efficient online transaction processing methods such as Razorpay, ensuring swift and reliable transactions.

What is your marketing strategy? 

Our marketing strategy leverages digital platforms to connect with our target audience. We utilise social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook to showcase our products, engage with our community, and share behind-the-scenes content highlighting our craftsmanship.

Additionally, we invest in targeted online advertising campaigns to reach potential customers who share our values of quality craftsmanship and unique design.

Through strategic partnerships with online influencers and collaborations with like-minded brands, we aim to further amplify our online presence and reach.

Have you raised any funds?

We have not raised any external funds and are proud to be entirely self-funded, operating as a bootstrapped company. While we have not actively sought investors, we remain open to strategic partnerships or funding opportunities that align with our long-term vision and values.

What will be your focus going forward?

Our primary focus will continue to be on craftsmanship, quality, and sustainability. We are committed to further refining our artisanal techniques and expanding our product offerings.

Additionally, we aim to strengthen our online presence and enhance our customer experience through innovative digital initiatives. Furthermore, we remain dedicated to fostering a sense of community and authenticity around our brand, connecting with our audience on a deeper level through storytelling and meaningful engagement.

More insightful and stimulating conversations on technology trends in retail are expected at the Phygital Retail Convention (PRC) 2024.

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