Bridging the Luxury to Affordable Gap in the Home Market

When aesthetics were coming at a price too dear, a techie-packaging pair of friends seized the gap in the market to launch a “reasonably priced” home fashion brand — Vaaree. A year on, it has had one seed round, and in the last few months the 50% month-on-month growth, brings hope for greater things in the future. A texfash.com exclusive.

Long Story, Cut Short
  • Vaaree focuses on connecting high-quality local manufacturers and artisans with the end consumer.
  • The idea is simple: remove middlemen, introduce process and technology, add filters of futuristic design and offer customer friendly products on an ecommerce platform.
Vaaree is a pre-seed start-up with a coterie of marquee investors.
Startup tale Vaaree is a pre-seed start-up with a coterie of marquee investors. Vaaree

India’s Economic Survey 2021–22 says that the country boasts of 61,400 certified start-ups and although Bangalore has been edged out by Delhi from the top spot, one brand from the southern metropolis —Vaaree — is aiming high. If you are a startup or even a recognised brand, texfash.com invites entrepreneurs in the textile-fashion-apparel-footwear segment to share their organisation's journey with us. Write to: richa@texfash.com.

Necessity is the mother of invention is a saying as old as old can get, but still holds true, more so today as India emerges as a startup boiler. One such brand that came into existence in January 2022 is Vaaree, a home fashion brand. A year on, it has had one seed round, and in the last few months the 50% month-on-month growth, brings hope for greater things in the future.

The aim for Co-founders Garima Luthra and Pranav Arora is to ensure that Vaaree, meaning "absolutely the best" in Punjabi language, emerges as a one-stop shop for everything home. The brand started with soft furnishings and table wares, and the strategy, going forward, is to cater to everything that a home needs, right from the tile to flooring.

At the moment, Vaaree is a pre-seed start-up with a coterie of marquee investors that includes Kunal Shah, Ghazal Alagh, Vineeta Singh, Arjun Vaidya, Rohit MA, Anjali Bansal, Varun Dua, Ruchi Deepak, Manish Duggar amongst others. However, more than a start-up or a home furnishings platform, “Vaaree is really just an exercise in simplicity. The idea is simple: remove middlemen, introduce process and technology, add filters of futuristic design and offer customer-friendly products on an ecommerce platform. The end result should be invaluable to almost every Indian who wants a pretty, cosy, comfortable, and original home with a vibe that is all their own,” enthuses Garima.

How did a techie and a packaging guy for the pharmaceutical industry spread themselves into the home territory? Garima and Pranav were working on the look of their respective homes, but found it “really hard” to get quality products at an affordable price. “I realised that if you want great designs you need to shell out large amounts of money or compromise with quality. There is a huge gap in the industry, where you either find premium brands and aesthetics or you buy from mass production platforms”.

The aim for Co-founders Garima Luthra and Pranav Arora is to ensure that Vaaree, meaning "absolutely the best" in Punjabi language, emerges as a one-stop shop for everything home.
Cofounding Buddies The aim for Co-founders Garima Luthra and Pranav Arora is to ensure that Vaaree, meaning "absolutely the best" in Punjabi language, emerges as a one-stop shop for everything home. Vaaree

Stitching an idea

The idea was sewn. Garima sensed a probable business opportunity where there was the scope to make available quality products at an affordable price. Vaaree was thus conceptualised as a one-point destination where customers could find good quality products at the right price. “By working directly with manufacturers, we have been able to crack great prices for our consumers,” she says.

To begin with, Garima got in touch with manufacturers and along the way she met her partner. “We’re not a D2C brand, but a platform. We wanted to go direct to the customer because this is the only way to remove middlemen and deliver quality products at the prices we want. We also have tie ups with a lot of end manufacturers who sell online with us, which is otherwise difficult for them as there are a lot of processes like cataloguing, packaging, and more that they don’t understand well.”

Vaaree thus focuses on connecting high-quality local manufacturers and artisans, with the end consumer. By adding a layer of trend-based curation from a specialised in-house design team, it is able to provide an expansive selection that marries elegant design with worldclass quality at affordable prices. This very niche is where Vaaree creates its marketplace.

Talking about how Vaaree went about identifying vendors, the process of onboarding them, and more importantly, convincing them to be a part of its story, Garima said it wasn’t too tough. With more and more people going online, everyone more or less understands the power of being able to sell from wherever one is. All these manufacturers, who make beautiful wares for global or Indian luxury brands, were also looking for ways to reach consumers directly. And this is where Vaaree came in as a platform. “For most of our vendors, selling directly to the customers is new”.

The focus now is on building its network of “individually vetted and certified, ethical manufacturers.” Since Vaaree works directly with ethical manufacturers, it follows an extensive checklist of about 15–16 steps for QC which were followed even while onboarding the manufacturers.

The brand has almost 1000+ SKUs under four product categories that includes bedsheets, cushion covers, dining and bath products. The future will see Vaaree expand into newer categories.
Stock-taking The brand has almost 1000+ SKUs under four product categories that includes bedsheets, cushion covers, dining and bath products. The future will see Vaaree expand into newer categories. Vaaree

The journey

The website went live on 30 April and from 1 May onwards it started getting orders. “It wasn’t very difficult. We got easy conversions from Facebook and Meta and now we see a great repeat as well. Today, Vaaree has shaped up as a curated marketplace for home furnishings that aims to bridge the luxury to affordable gap in the Indian home market."

The journey, says Garima, began like a “fairy tale. It has been exciting, and yes there have been hurdles on the way but the feedback from customers has been encouraging and satisfying. But needless to say, that we have a long way to go, and we are excited about what lies ahead. The going is never simple or smooth for any entrepreneur. There are ups and downs every day, there is something new to learn every day, and “many a time we made very dumb mistakes that could have been avoided if someone else would have shared their journey.”

Recounting one such setback she shares how a week before the day of launch all the packaging material got burnt. “It was in the factory and we never got it insured and that factory’s generator caught fire. All the material was reduced to ashes and we had to come up with a quick solution. As an entrepreneur you have to only look at the solution and be focused entirely in that direction.”

The learnings this last year have been many. “We’re on the journey where we are still grasping what should be done, and what should not be done. A major lowdown was that you have to understand and hear your customers and see what they’re actually looking for. Talking to your customers helps you fathom what are the kind of products they are looking for. Their feedback is critical. Another learning was that blindly running advertisements is not going to do any good. One has to understand what cohorts, the target group and only then to strategise and get the designs that will really work for them.

Garima also recalls how their manufacturers have grown with them. “We have one female manufacturer who makes most of our cushions. When she started, she had a small factory and a unit, and today she has three — this is how she has expanded. Her products and designs are much loved and she need not work as per the dictates of her B2B clients where she is asked to follow given designs. Now she uses her creativity and puts out her own designs. The sense of happiness that she has and the fulfillment that she feels reinstates our belief in what we are building — that the platform is for manufacturers to reach their customers directly.”

We’re on the journey where we are still grasping what should be done, and what should not be done. A major lowdown was that you have to understand and hear your customers and see what they’re actually looking for. Talking to your customers helps you fathom what are the kind of products they are looking for. Their feedback is critical.

Garima Luthra
Garima Luthra / Co-Founder / Vaaree

Milestones & the future

The brand has almost 1000+ SKUs under four product categories that includes bedsheets, cushion covers, dining and bath products. The future will see Vaaree expand into newer categories. It had initially started with a few bedroom and living room categories, but has since ventured into the kitchen, dining and home décor space too. Plans are afoot to expand into multiple subcategories as well, be they curtains, home décor, small accent pieces, mirrors, and much more. The bedroom space will see introduction of bedsheets, comforters, and more. It puts out a new collection in less than 60 days. “We have started adding something new to our site every week. Whenever you log on to our website, you will find a dedicated tab which talks about the new edition”.

Talking about the first few milestones, Garima shares that building a team was on top of their mind “because you’re only as strong as your team is. Secondly, we had to have our seed stage funding in place so that we could at least have an office and pay a couple of initial salaries and have a website up and ready. Another one was to reach the first 100 customers, which we did in our very first month."

Logistics is taken care of by a third party. Vaaree has also partnered with delivery brands like Delhivery and Shiprocket to take care of the last mile logistics and fulfilment. All orders are delivered within four days of placing the order, although the promised time to the customer is within 5–7 days. “It is our way of making our customers feel good on receiving early deliveries. We ensure 100% deliveries within that time frame."

Going forward, the plan is to bring options for both sellers and customers on the platform where they can curate a collection for themselves. The sellers can put up customised collections for customers looking for curated offerings. Similarly, the buyers can build a collection of their choice by curating selections across segments offered by the sellers. Sometime in the future, Vaaree could come up with some offline experiential stores.

The business mantra that Vaaree abides by is “being honest with the customers” and getting them great quality products at the right price.

Richa Bansal

RICHA BANSAL has more than 30 years of media industry experience, of which the last 20 years have been with leading fashion magazines in both B2B and B2C domains. Her most recent position was at the helm of editoral affairs at Fibre2Fashion

 
 
 
  • Dated posted: 11 January 2023
  • Last modified: 11 January 2023