As an accessory that wins hands down there is no parallel to jewellery.
To join the family business and expand it to different verticals can be challenging. However this has become second nature for Santosh Bathija who has taken his family jewellery business to the next level by making the business more accessible and inclusive.
“As any other child I also dreamt not just to become a cricketer or a politician but also a retailer as I hail from a family of retail store owners. Education was always a task as I was more inclined towards ideas, creativity and strategy and focused on drama, debate and elocution.” However even while studying, Santosh worked with his grandfather Thakurdas Bathija at his store Amber that retailed exquisite handcrafts and later with his father Sukhlal Bathija at Popli that retails precious jewellery.
It was post completion of his education that he started his own line of artificial jewellery mainly for the export market. “Getting into artificial jewellery was entirely my call and I purely exported it from early 2000 until 2005.” After he got married, he started Aquamarine with his wife Khushi Bathija for the domestic market. Incidentally, Aquamarine had the first mover advantage in artificial jewellery and the stores expanded from Colaba to Bandra and Breach Candy in Mumbai, Khan Market Delhi, Jubliee Hills Hyderabad, Commercial Street Bangalore and more.
However Santosh was not one to rest on his laurels and decided in 2014 to create a platform for designers and started Minerali a multi designer jewelery store. “We currently stock over 50 designers. My sister Sheetal Khatri who runs the store describes sit aptly as an eclectic amalgamation of all that is trending in the accessories circuit”.
Having been in the industry for a while now, Santosh says that the big trend will be the emergence of lab grown diamonds. “This has opened a market of good quality Swarovski stones or brilliantly cut lab grown colour infused stones that are now designed made and set by the same gold karigars.”
Another area of growth is in the contemporary /minimalistic field. “Metals are more important and natural shapes, hand beaten, textured, luxury lines appeal to fiercely independent women who are moving away from heavy traditional jewelry.”
Naturally Santosh knows that his target audience is changing and young women need no advice today. “In fact we learn from them and they keep us on our toes especially when it comes to improving our design aesthetic and retail management. Women of today believe in owning one basic piece of diamond jewellery whether it is a pair of earring studs, a tennis bracelet, a solitaire ring or a watch which helps us evolve too.”
His mantra of facing challenges in the business is simple. “The best way to face challenges in any business is accepting the challenge first. Half the battle won when you accept it and the other half is by not losing your grip on the situation.” His future plans are also clear with short term and long term goals in place. “In general I have a one year plan for new ventures and a two year plan for improvising present projects and a five year plan which sees a paradigm shift.”
In order to work this way, Santosh swears by his morning run at Marine drive which is his way of fueling up for the day ahead. He likes spending his evenings with his family on the terrace of his home. “Weekends are the time to relax and rejuvenate. A lazy Sunday at the Breach Candy Club is imperative. Also being a footballer with my son Aarav and a tutor to my daughter Vrinda are my other jobs during the weekend.”
This story first appeared in The Sindhian Oct-Dec 2018 issue here: Santosh Santosh 1