Twenty-three years ago, when Anjaleka Kriplani decided to enter the interior design space, after graduating from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Interior Architecture, there were hardly any women setting up businesses. Entrepreneurship was not the idea it has grown into now, despite the fact that her family had been exporting home accessories to the likes of Bloomingdale’s, Pottery Barn and Harrods, for two generations. “It’s difficult to sit at home and do lunches and teas after you’re exposed to working,” she says, of her year-long internship at Ralph Lauren, New York.
Back in India, she set up her interior design business, and went on to have clients like Lalit Suri, Kokila Ambani, and the Jindals. Alongside, she also launched stores by the brand name Renaisaance Homez, across five cities, importing home décor items. “I’ve seen the evolution of the space and the industry,” she says, talking of how people in 1997 were willing to buy imported sofas for ₹5 lakh and a metre of cloth for ₹10,000.
It’s not the same today, and that’s not just because of the pandemic. “Then duties were as high as 150% and people were willing to pay that. Today, people are price shopping, despite duties falling to between 22% and 25%. They know what is available all over the world, and are looking for the best deal,” she says, adding that the same industrial family is sometimes willing to spend only half of what they did a decade ago.
The pandemic brought its own woes: “The home segment was one where people felt the need to see, feel, and touch, but now, people are happy to shop online,” she says. Recognising the shift in the market, she has started a slew of services, to be accessible in the affordable luxury segment.
In May this year, with on-ground retail declining overall, online purchases picking up, and only one store in Delhi remaining, she launched her online store (Angiehomes.co) as a one-stop destination for home furniture and accessories, with an international and a made-in-India segment (under Angie’s India). “India has old, ethnic motifs, but a dohar or blanket can show them in a contemporary way that’s not ultra modern, while keeping our culture alive,” she says, adding that there are about 1,800 products under ₹50,000 on the website, and over 1,500 under ₹25,000, sourced from across India.
The most popular are tableware, followed by carpets (both wool and silk), with the aesthetic leaning towards the semi-formal and the functional rather than the purely ornamental.
In terms of art, “There has been a transitional shift,” she says, with both ends of the spectrum (photographs and lithographs at the lower end and the masters and traditional art like Tanjores at the high end) becoming popular. “There’s a slump in the mid-segment.”
Besides traditional interior design, she has also introduced styling services so that customers can experiment with buying furniture and home accents under the guidance of a professional, or even use their existing ones to refashion even a single room. There’s also a tie-up with Axis Bank, to help people fund their dream home interiors through an EMI.
In a still nascent sector, Anjaleka has also introduced a bridal and kids’ registry, for those who want to book objects and have people who’d like to gift, pay towards them online.
“We want everyone to feel welcome,” she says.
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