If a friendship could lay the foundation for a profitable Jaipur-based business Nirvana gems and jewelry set the perfect precedent of how trust and understanding could set the stage for success.
The jewelry brand is run by a duo of entrepreneurs Ritesh Badaya and Prashant Sharma, who met at a middle school in Pune while taking a German language course.
The odd thing is that none of them had ever had the idea of starting a business – even Ritesh whose father had a gemstone business. As a child, he fondly remembered hanging out in his father’s office after school and watching him lean over purple-hued amethyst stones. The sight of craftsmen tirelessly polishing rough stones until they turned into something of beauty was clearly etched in his mind.
However, as life will tell him later, the experience has kindled a small fire in his heart that will guide him to discover his passion for gemstones.
When he left home to go to college in 2003, Ritesh says he began to explore the culture and heritage of Pune markets and noticed the potential for an authentic jewelry brand like the one his family was in charge.
“As the idea took shape in my mind, I looked at my options and discussed them with Prashant,” says Ritesh. Meanwhile, Prashant, who had no interest in starting a business, intended to move to Germany to continue his education.
The first taste of success
Ritesh then started a small jewelry business in Mumbai, but he didn’t know he had a tough road ahead. “I have often accompanied Ritesh on short business trips to places like Mumbai. He attracted me by promising to stay in good hotels and explore Mumbai. I had no interest in business, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to travel, ”jokes Prashant.
Whether it was traveling on crowded local trains in the scorching heat or waiting patiently outside customers’ doors for hours on end, Ritesh had no hesitation in getting his hands dirty to make his dreams come true. It didn’t hurt that Prashant was always there to support him.
But, as with most good things, business has run its course. Later, Prashant moved to Germany as he had planned earlier. However, he was unable to follow through on his plan to continue his studies and returned to Jaipur in 2005 where he started a business in the tourism sector due to his love for the German language. The two friends stayed in touch, supporting each other in their own way.
“Some time later, I met a German couple in Agra and presented them with a proposal for a jewelry business with Ritesh. We took them on board and visited Germany, where we worked with a few designers, ”explains Prashant. They managed to sell their first batch of products and got 5 euros of the total profit from the business trip. The amount may not have been high, but it laid the foundation for what would prove to be a successful partnership.
The two friends went their separate ways again to follow their separate paths, until Ritesh approached Prashant with a proposal to launch a heritage jewelry brand. Given their history and their connections, it wasn’t long before Prashant decided to join Ritesh. The duo launched the company in December 2012, but officially started operations in 2013, marketing gemstone, gold and silver jewelry. And, since then, there has been no turning back.
Shine on the path to success
Working with a group of a hundred artisans, Nirvana gems and jewelry is today a global brand whose customer base includes several international TV channels, boutiques, retailers, wholesalers and e-commerce platforms.
But the journey to the top has been fraught with many challenges. The main one of these challenges was the lack of funds due to which they could not even have a regular office.
“As we were a fledgling company, it was difficult to gain the trust of the suppliers. We struggled to get quality resources as most vendors and artisans didn’t trust us due to our inexperience, ”says Ritesh.
Not the ones to give up, the Nirvana gems and jewelry The team rose to the challenge by honoring their commitments, which allowed them to build a good reputation in the market.
“We keep the reputation of the market at the top of our priority list. If the market is with you, the sky is the limit, ”says Prashant. Over the years, their efforts started to pay off as they developed better sales strategies and connected with the right people in the right places.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken businesses around the world, Nirvana gems and jewelry was no exception. The founders describe their experience of operating during the crisis as one that helped them step out of their comfort zone.
Before the pandemic hit, they were traveling overseas to do TV shows, which was very exciting and refreshing for them. However, the pandemic has also limited that.
“When COVID-19 started to impact our sales, we opened a live streaming studio in our office and continued to work with TV shows,” they say. Their quick thinking quickly reaped rich rewards and Nirvana gems and jewelry ended up registering Rs 42 crore in annual income in 2020-21, up from Rs 21 crore in 2019-20. The two are also working on their Gemshiner Inc e-commerce platform, which currently caters to customers in the United States.
A gem of an idea
Speaking of their future plans, Ritesh and Prashant say they are pursuing an ambitious goal of becoming a Rs 100 crore company by 2023 and of making Gemshiner Inc a Rs 50 crore platform by 2025.
“And if necessary, we would also like to launch an IPO to raise funds with a minimum profit of 20%,” says Prashant. But, a goal close to their hearts is to give back to society and to help craftspeople lead more independent lives.
“We want to take advantage of the technology in the Indian jewelry market and support rural women by providing them with livelihoods. We also plan to educate our brokers, so that they have a better knowledge of the jewelry market and can negotiate better deals in the future, ”adds Ritesh.
Ask them how they will be able to achieve these lofty but ambitious goals, “with our strong communication and mutual understanding,” they both quipped.