A premium online-only store links artisans with discerning buyers
Premium coffee that can be traced back to the plot of land where it was cultivated; fabrics that speak of sophistication and also their creator; traditional jewellery inspired by motifs from neighbouring countries…
A new webstore, Jaypore.com offers all these and more at the click of a mouse. At the online-only store that started its Indian operations in January this year, the accent is on wearable luxury and premium products, each of which comes with a story. For example, the story of Medha Bhatt. Inspired by artisans in Kutch, Medha makes traditional patchwork appliqué art out of textile scraps under her brand The Forest Floor.
“Our website is not about luxury that is prohibitive. It features premium products that are meant for the discerning… people who understand design and aesthetics,” says Shilpa Sharma, co-founder and head (sourcing).
How easy was it to make a beginning in online sales, considering they did not have a regular store? “Well, the early buyers took a leap of faith. When they were satisfied, it established the credibility of the brand. With fabrics, it’s all about touch, feel and drape. Our exhaustive photographs helped. So did our liberal returns policy and cash on delivery,” says Shilpa.
Today, Jaypore sends stuff to 15 countries including France, the U.K., Australia, Singapore, Poland and Turkey. And, less than 0.5 per cent of products bought has been returned.
Shilpa says that end purchases are the result of long e-mail conversations. “We showcase a slice of India that many do not know about. So, prospective buyers want to know where the product is from and how it’s made. When there’s an interesting story, we upload it on the blog.”
A lot of the stuff on the website is traditional with a contemporary twist. “We work a lot with artisans and NGOs who work with artisans. It is a challenge to get them to experiment. We have to hand-hold them through the process,” says Shilpa. This results in an end product that is fiercely traditional in style, but contemporary in execution.
The website is slowly gaining a foothold in the market, and Shilpa says they are working on giving back to craftspersons too. Most popular on the website are stoles, dupattas, serving spoons, studio pottery, printed trays, quirky cushions…They also have a ready-to-wear line. Since sizing is a sticky area, the website sticks to free flowing fabrics that do not have fitted, complex silhouettes. Think kaftans, drawstrings, etc.
It helps that the products keep changing, so there is no monotony. For instance, a sale of Kantha stoles ends mid September. Most ‘sales’ last a fortnight or a month, after which another product takes their place.
Another interesting feature of the website is the detailed description that accompanies each product. This includes weight, dimensions, washing and care instructions, and even style trends. For instance, for a Maheshwari dupatta, the website guides you to pair it up with a patterned tunic because the print-on-print trend is in.
“That’s where the research team takes over. We have an excellent team of storytellers/researchers who describe the product very well,” says Shilpa.
Currently, what catches my eye is ‘Playfully Indian’, home accents inspired by our colourful streets. A New Delhi-inspired acrylic tray, anyone? Or, an Ambassador-inspired cotton cushion cover?