C KrishniahChetty Group of Jewellers is a 150 year old business that was started by CothaKrishniahChetty and is being led by Dr C. VinodHayagriv.
Dr C. VinodHayagriv is one of the three promoters and as Managing Director of C KrishniahChetty& Sons Pvt.Ltd. and a Director on all CKC Group of Companies.
The business has been a family operated business and has evolved with times. Not only does the business operate on a traditional brick & mortar way but also has an online presence too.
Vinod started his career in 1975.He joined full time after his Gemological studies in Santa Monica and Hong Kong and today is a well-known personality in the world of gems and jewellery across India and the world.
Apart from running this business Hayagrivis an avid traveller and a club golfer for 35 years.
In this Leaderspeak, Hayagriv discusses the evolution of the company, the eco-system along with the journey and some important learnings.
Tell us about C Krishniah Chetty Group of Jewellers… How did it start? A flashback to the long journey…
Our story begins in 1869, when Cotha Krishniah Chetty, migrated to the then British Cantonment to set up a gems, coloured beads, silversmithing, gold smithing business. It was more an occupation than a business. He, sensing the opportunities that were created by establishment of a British Cantonment, on a parcel of land given by the Maharaja of Mysore to the British, who acted as a protectionist force,decided to start a small enterprise in Bangalore.
In hindsight, it was indeed a foresight on the part of our founder to establish a fine jewellery business in the heart of the then British Cantonment. This jewellery house was destined to grow andwould compete with the jewellers of London, collaborate with them and learn from their stringent standards.
Expanding on the vision of his father, with the relationships built with his mostly British clients, Cotha Audinarayana Chetty forged alliances with Mappin&Webb of London and became an importer from The Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Company of London, and Rolex of Switzerland who custom-made diamond-set gold wrist watches, with the dial specially imprinted with the name of C. Krishniah Chetty. A component of the original stock is still held by the company to this day. The firm steadily grew to take part in the Paris Exposition in 1931. Prior to that the firm took part in the Delhi exposition in 1930. The work was surely recognised as being amongst the fine works of the East.
What are the core product offerings?
The foundations being as they were, the business today crafts important pieces of fine jewellery, silverware, custom-cuts specific diamonds, designs multifarious products keeping with current lifestyle of its varied client base, always keeping the client’s persona in mind.The business seeks inspiration from historic monuments, nature and anything that stirs the creative juices.
It’s been 15 decades to the prosperous business… What are you planning for the 150 year celebration? How grand is the celebration?
We believe the 150th year is one milestone in the journey. Just a milestone, with no compulsions to meet external infused targets, the firm is run purely with passion of the family. The celebrations are with their clients, designers, team members, public at large. Events, theatre, skill development, encouraging art and culture, giving where it’s needed, making a purposeful contribution to society is our focus.
What’s the Royal connection with the company? Could you please elaborate on this?
Thanks to a focussed workforce, the business house has been appointed jewellers to His Highness The Maharaja of Mysore, has been & continues to do work for some to this day, for over 21 Royal families including The Nizam Of Hyderabad, The Maharaja of Sandur, The Maharaja of Gondal, The Maharaja of Dhranghadra, The Maharaja of Travancore, The Nawab of Savanur.
Some relationships needed the firm to send their designers, craftsmen to the royal families, like to the Mysore Palace every Thursday, in what was called the Bulao, when the palace would place orders for the week. For delivery the following Thursday! Some arrangements continued for decades, till Independence.
I understand that you wouldn’t know what has changed over the last 150 years but if you could talk about the few important changes that you have seen in the business environment and in the company internally, which would those be?
For one, the client base has evolved. As we now see the descendants of the royal families still have high taste in all things precious. The client base today includes business houses, who’s who of the corporate world, members of the legal fraternity, educationists, administrative services, technologies, professionals of all types, consulars, titular heads, expatriates, land and real estate, temples, non-resident Indian families and almost everyone who prefers high quality gems and jewellery.
Crafting, design and concepts today reflect tech gadgets like diamond studded iPhones, tablets, watches and more. Gem cutting styles have become more specialised with custom cuts. Taral gems take some importance over decoration, and such evolutions shape today’s environment for CKC Group teams.
What is your distribution model? How many stores do you have and which are your key target markets?
The business designs and produces and sells products at our two offices, 3 workshops, and 6 showrooms and boutiques in Bengaluru. The teams focus on sales within and around the country. Our team travels to meet clients across india. And the world.
Being a traditional jeweller how do you communicate your brand’s messaging… Which are the mediums you use to reach out to your target audience?
Like the brand, customers preferences have evolved too. While we use traditional methods of communication channels to reach out to customers, CKC also focuses on being a part of their most memorable and cherished moments. From giving a chance for customers to use their collection of vintage cars for their weddings to sponsoring honeymoon trips to exotic locations, we do design unique customer-engagement strategies.
How digital savvy is your business? Being a family business how easy or difficult was it for you to adopt to digital means of doing business? Or even digital advertising?
The nature of businesses in general across sectors is changing rapidly. Customers do an exhaustive research online and then visit physical stores. The business today understands the importance of social media. We hence invest significantly into this medium. The brand also has specialised teams working on this channel. They do believe that it is evolving and have accordingly tied up with specialists for handling this activity. We have invested into technology and operate a robust online platform: www.ckcjewellers.com.
What is your take on having a brand ambassador for your business? Do you have one? If Yes then who? If No, then why not? Do you ever want to keep one? If yes, then who would that be and why?
It was a conscious decision to promote the name and logo as the face of the brand. Their clients have been brand faces below the line so to speak. Several prominent national celebrities, stars, models have been CKC clients.
Any key learnings that you’d want to share with us?
The brand is still young in its current operations. The growth potential is high, but will be measured. Strategy is to continue to be a preferred luxury partner to our clients.