Chinu Kala is a renowned entrepreneur, socialite, model, and a well-known figure in the fashion jewellery business in India. She was born and raised in Delhi, India, where she completed her schooling and graduated with a degree in commerce.
After completing her education, Chinu began her professional career as a sales and telemarketing executive. She also started her own company, Fonte Fashions India Pvt Ltd., which specialized in corporate merchandising. However, her true passion was in fashion jewellery, and she realized that she wanted to create something affordable and accessible for everyone. In 2014, she founded Rubans Accessories, a startup that has become the fastest-growing fashion jewellery brand in India today.
Chinu’s hard work and dedication have earned her several accolades and recognition in the industry. She has been featured in BW magazines’ “40 Under 40” list for women entrepreneurs and recognized as “Women Entrepreneurs in the Spotlight” by Makers India. She has also been recognized as a “Woman Entrepreneur to Watch for” by Yourstory.
Chinu is not just a successful entrepreneur but also a well-respected speaker. She has been invited to speak at various forums and conferences, including appearing as a panellist on BBC Worlds work life India show and “We the women” Asia by Barkha Dutt. Her story has been published in the book “All you need is Josh,” which covers her journey as a female fashion jewellery entrepreneur and insights into a successful startup.
In her free time, Chinu loves to travel the world and stay fit. She is an avid health and fitness enthusiast who likes to spend her spare time with her family. Despite her busy schedule, she always makes time for her loved ones and cherishes every moment spent with them.
Chinu Kala’s success story is an inspiration to many aspiring entrepreneurs, especially women. Her passion, hard work, and determination have helped her achieve great success in the fashion jewellery business in India, and she continues to inspire others to follow their dreams and pursue their passions.
What motivated you to become an entrepreneur, despite facing financial difficulties in your childhood?
Entrepreneurship for me came naturally. Since I did not have the basic qualifications of qualifying for jobs I always knew that I could use the skills that I had learned during my initial years and build something meaningful. Thus, instead of looking for a job I decided to create Jobs. When I started my career, I worked for a commission of Rs 20 per piece earning 60-100 rupees per day. But with time I gained experience and kept on earning wherever I got a chance.
I believe that the best ideas come from viewing the simplest of things from a different perspective. In 2008 I ventured into Corporate Merchandising and had many well-known brands as my customers. While speaking to the brand managers of these companies I could see the passion that they had for their brands. They always told me that sales numbers are temporary, but the brand is permanent. I used to get excited thinking about one day building my own brand, my legacy that would live on and thus I coupled my love for Jewelry and my business acumen to start Rubans.
What inspired you to enter the fashion industry, specifically in the jewellery segment?
It all started in 2007 when I participated in the Gladrags Mrs. India pageant where I went on to be one of the finalists. The 1 month that I spent at the boot camp gave me a lot of exposure, previously I never had the money to spend on any luxuries because from my childhood I had always been earning to survive. Here I got introduced to the world of fashion and Jewelry, here I realized that even though all the participants wore amazing outfits and makeup But it was only the right accessory that completed their look this observation stayed with me for many years, and then in 2014 I started Rubans.
How did your experience as a salesgirl help you in your entrepreneurial journey?
My work as a door-to-door sales girl was life-changing, believe me, on a HOT and sunny day when people slam their doors on your face It really hurts. But every door that got slammed on me made me tougher from the inside and my resolve to become successful, Stronger.
I always believed that If you are going through hell, Just Keep going.
When I look back, I believe whatever I am today is because of my hunger for success and my never give up attitude.
What were the initial challenges you faced while starting Rubans Accessories, and how did you overcome them?
Challenges are a part of every business – but it’s up to us how we face them. Rational thinking, taking timely decisions, and making necessary changes, no matter how difficult, has helped me emerge victorious. This is definitely easier said than done. I take every hurdle with a pinch of salt and always, always focus on finding solutions. I do not let the problems I face cloud my judgment and overshadow the bigger picture.
Let me tell you about one such instance. I woke up one morning to a phone call that my entire office had burnt down. I, immediately, jumped out of bed and rushed to the office only to see that everything that I had worked for in past so many years burnt to ashes. I was devastated beyond words. However, I chose to snap out of it and go back to the drawing board. We literally built Rubans back from scratch – my employees worked super hard and since we did not have a place to sit we worked from my house with borrowed laptops, we made calls to each and every vendor to explain our situation.
Today when I look back, that entire experience has made me stronger, and more capable of managing adverse situations. It’s just the right attitude that will help you get past such challenges.
Can you tell us about the initial investment you made in Rubans Accessories?
I started Rubans with an initial investment of Rs 3 Lac
What is your vision for Rubans Accessories in the next five years?
Rubans by 2027 shall be a 500 Cr revenue brand.
What are the unique selling points of Rubans Accessories, and how do you differentiate your brand from others in the market?
In my opinion, Rubans understands its customers like no other. Keeping the customers up on the latest trend, we house over 2000+ designs curated by fine artisans from across the country, appealing to the varied interests of the customers. A fresh catalog of collections is updated every 15 days to ensure that even the most regular visitor also gets to see and buy from the new launches.
Rubans is one of the very few brands to hold a strong catalog balance of western and ethnic jewellery designs and that also makes it the most desirable fashion jewellery destination. After production, I personally wear and check every piece that goes on to become part of our collection and any piece that I don’t feel good about after wearing will not be sent to our customers as I believe that at Rubans our customers deserve only the best.
How do you keep up with changing fashion trends and customer preferences in the jewellery segment?
We have a team of researchers and merchandisers who work tirelessly on collections and global trends. We make sure to launch new collections in short intervals to surprise our customers every time they visit us.
What is your marketing strategy for Rubans Accessories, and how do you reach out to your target audience?
Fashion Jewelry is a fast-paced business like any other industry out here also you need to be on your toes and agile for survival. Our strategy is to spoil the customers with choices when they visit our website. We have a team of designers and researchers who work on the latest trends not just from India but across the world. Globalization has changed the world, today information flow is fast and in the same way fashion trends also flow really fast.
Thus, as a brand, we make sure that we never lose the freshness quotient. We launch 100-150 designs each month so that the most frequent visitor also has something new to see each time they visit us.
Can you share any memorable experiences or milestones of your journey with Rubans Accessories?
When we crossed the milestone of 25,00,000 customers it was one of the proudest moments for us as a brand. A brand that started from a 36 Sq Feet kiosk reaching such a milestone was a true feather in the cap of all of us at Rubans.
What is the most important lesson you have learned as an entrepreneur?
My journey so far has been fantastic as I have learned everything by doing it on my own. Right from my 1st Job to date I have been learning something new every day. During these years I have made both good and bad decisions but have always owned them.
A positive point is that as an entrepreneur you are not answerable to anyone, but, that also becomes the scariest part when no one tells you where you are going wrong. You evolve every day; each day teaches you some precious lesson. I feel that Entrepreneurship is a long and lonely journey, a marathon that does not have a defined milestone; all you can do is keep running.
How do you balance your personal and professional life, and what is your typical day like?
My source of inspiration and passion for business comes from my daughter. While I work really hard during the day but after reaching home, I unwind by playing with my daughter or cooking for her. Since I work 6 days a week I make sure that every day I give at least 2 hours of undivided attention to my daughter from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM which involves helping her with her studies, Playing, Dancing or just running around and doing masti. I spend my entire Sunday with her, and we spend time cooking and doing any other activity that she likes doing.
Also from the beginning, I have taught my daughter that she has a working mother and we might not always be together but whenever we are we make the most out of that time. Also what helps is that my daughter understands that whatever I do is important for us as a family and she is also very proud of whatever I have achieved.
How do you manage your team, and what qualities do you look for while hiring new employees?
I only look for hunger in a candidate as I believe that talent and craft can be nurtured but you cannot build character or attitude. So I want to always be surrounded by teammates who have a positive attitude and a hunger to succeed.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your business, and what changes have you made to adapt to the new normal?
The 1st pandemic accelerated the pace of business as people were not venturing out to shop. But the next lockdown did have some effect on the sales where people mainly purchased lower ASP products and did not go for elaborate pieces. Also, We have strengthened our Supply chain so that we do not fall short on inventory in case of any unforeseen lockdowns.
Can you share any plans for expanding Rubans Accessories to new markets or product lines?
We are looking at making Rubans the biggest Fashion Jewelry brand in the next few years and we are also planning to cross boundaries and take Rubans abroad soon.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses?
Have the Hunger for Success and an Eye for an opportunity. These are the combinations that are required to achieve professional or business success. Also, be ready to thrive in chaos as the initial years are really chaotic. Give your dream at least 3 years’ time to mature.
How do you stay motivated and overcome challenges in your entrepreneurial journey?
I feel if you love what you do and you have a conviction in your dream you remain motivated.
What is the biggest risk you have taken in your business, and how did it pay off?
When I pitched for my 2nd store I had to follow up with the mall manager for 6 months and finally when he gave me the space they asked for 10 months deposit. I did not have the money but I also know that I could not afford to let this opportunity go. One thing I knew was that once I opened the store I would be able to pay back any amount that was to be paid, so I spinned a story with the manager that I had an FD maturing next month and will pay the deposit once that is matured. It so happened that on the 1st day of the opening of the store we sold for 1.5 Lac. With that month’s sale, we paid off the deposit money. It was scary before the opening of the store as the stakes were really high but I had confidence in my business plan and the collection that I was going to display in the store and that paid off.
What is your management style, and how do you maintain a positive work culture in your company?
As a leader, it was my duty to be on top of things and I did so by constantly being in touch with my team. A certain level of my team was working from their homes but I also reiterated to them the importance of using this time to spend quality time with their kids and other family members. I made sure that we paid full salaries to each team member and that too on time. Whilst elsewhere you could hear news of layoffs and salary cuts I had assured my team that they do not need to worry about their jobs or salary. Once partial normalcy was attained and people started coming to the office I noticed that the team’s commitment grew far more than what was there pre covid. This is what any startup would dream of.
Can you share any hobbies or interests outside of work?
I love cooking, I don’t generally get time for nurturing my hobbies but I do that with my daughter. So if it is cooking, drawing, or reading stories, whenever I get time I spend it with her doing these things.
What is your favorite piece of jewellery from Rubans Accessories, and why?
Oxidised Jewelry is something that is really close to my heart. Jewelry that shows our rich heritage and culture, is handcrafted and can be worn on both Indian as well as western outfits.