Who doesn’t like to pick up souvenirs from the different places they visit?
Whenever I visit any place I always make it a point to pick up some mementoes – either a small decoration piece or a keychain or fridge magnet. I remember having picked up almost a dozen of fridge magnets during a trip to Lake District in UK to be given as small gifts to friends and relatives. Two of them are still sticking to my refrigerator door.
Shubhra Chadda and Vivek Prabhakar also liked to collect souvenirs from different parts of the world. What set them apart was the eye to spot that the zing was missing in the Indian souvenir market as the souvenirs available in India mainly comprised of Taj replicas and handicrafts. This sowed the idea of Chumbak in their minds and they decided to quit their corporate jobs to follow their passion and create trendy souvenirs with fun crafted Indian themes.
Chumbak was started in 2010 with a seed fund (of around Rs 40 -45 Lakhs) which the husband-wife duo arranged for by selling their own apartment after they had evaluated the market for souvenirs in India. They used this investment to launch their first product line of Fridge magnets, naming it Chumbak (meaning magnet in Hindi). The magnets were cool and peppy and captured the ethos of India.
Using Facebook to initially advertise and market their products, Chumbak gradually started retailing in multi-brand outlets like Crosswords, and other small boutiques. In 2012, they opened their first kiosk in Bengaluru. With the growing demand for their products, they soon realized that they needed to grow their offline presence, which they did after they received their first round of funding.
They went on to set up more kiosks, partnering with PVR to set up kiosks inside their theatres. In September 2014, Chumbak launched their flagship store in Indira Nagar, Bengaluru, to showcase all their products, adding many new products to their range.
From fridge magnet, Chumbak has expanded the product lines to include bags, wallets, travel accessories, mugs, stationery, key chains, smartphone covers, laptop sleeves, sleep and loungewear, rugs, cushion covers. With the second round of funding in 2014, they have expanded into lifestyle products for home and décor.
Working with a team of illustrators, graphic designers and animators, Shubhra oversees the designs. The attractive designs capture the essence of Indianness while ensuring a uniformity in quality and pattern. With the introduction of furniture and lifestyle products, the design also underwent a transformation from the old India themed designs which were more character driven, into India inspired designs that showcase the different colours and design sensibility of India.
To maintain the zing and not to let complacency set in, Chumbak ensures that fresh designs and product categories are introduced continuously. So typically, a new product hits the stores every month.
Chumbak was picked up for a case study by Google for its ‘The Web Is What You Make Of It’ campaign. You can see the online collection of their magnets on Amazon, below.
With around 150 stores across India, including kiosks inside PVR cinemas in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, and selling from around 100 stores in Japan and exports to the US, UK, Australia and the Middle East, and plans to open large format stores in Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kochi and Jaipur, Chumbak is fast spreading its designs and quirkiness all over to spread cheer and a smile on the face of the users of its products.
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