Janaki Kirloskar, CEO, and Founder of Kika Tableware has managed to turn dining at home, one’s culinary experience unique. With a keen eye for patterns and design, she launched KIKA, a brand that offers a variety of products in the tableware range, which include dinner plates, quarter plates, serving platters, serving bowls, mugs, and tea sets.
So, Janaki, please do tell us a little bit more about your journey so far with KIKA Tableware. How and why did it come into being? Some inside stories, maybe?
Kika Tableware was founded in 2016 with the idea of offering modern and unique designs on beautiful and luxurious tableware at affordable prices. I am the 4th generation of a 130-year old business family, Kirloskar, which is one of India’s premier engineering and manufacturing powerhouses. I have worked in my family business for 12 years before deciding to take the plunge and step out into this entrepreneurial world.
I am the 4th generation of a 130-year old business family, Kirloskar, which is one of India’s premier engineering and manufacturing powerhouses.
What is the idea behind the name of your brand?
I wanted a name that brought together the 2 most significant forces in my life - my daughters, Devaki and Mihika. The name is an amalgamation of their names and was coined by my numero uno - my husband Rahul.
Could you share with us some more about the place where the designing and the manufacturing of the products happen?
The designs that we have created for our collections are extremely unique. These designs have been created in collaboration with the talented graphic designers that I work with. The designing process primarily happens in the virtual online space as the graphic designers are based in various locations in India & overseas. Our manufacturing partners are located in India.
Where do you seek inspiration? What makes you want to design?
I gather my inspiration for these designs from my travels and the world around me. I love pattern, color and have an eye for detail. When I was younger, I wanted to be an architect as I loved to draw and always had a creative streak in me. As an industrial engineer, I loved creating layout diagrams and playing around with the idea of shapes and symmetry. This new business opportunity gave me the perfect canvas to dream and put the most unique ideas and concepts onto tableware.
What kind of images do you have in mind when you create?
For my latest Vibrant Aztec Collection, I was very keen to create an Aztec theme with bold colors, fun cactus motifs, prints with geometric shapes. The graphic designer that I worked with on this project understood my vision and was able to translate this into some of the most beautiful designs that I've seen. We created a mood board and used a lot of visual imagery to inspire us. There was a lot of hand drawing and sketching involved in this collection and the bright and fun color palette makes this collection extremely contemporary and modern.
For my latest Vibrant Aztec Collection, I was very keen to create an Aztec theme with bold colors, fun cactus motifs, prints with geometric shapes.
What are the tableware must-haves for every home?
I believe that every home must have a lovely set of mugs and serving platters. This is what we call the "starter kit" when you begin to invest in tableware. It is always nice to impress your guests while serving a hot beverage and a snack.
It is not always easy when you start a new business. What are some of the challenges or hurdles you have faced?
For me, one of the scariest aspects of this entrepreneurial world was that I was walking away from a steady, established business. There has been no easy way to address this fear - except to think logically, work hard and keep my mind focused on the new business that I am creating.
As an entrepreneur, there is always pressure to being the visionary of the business. As a founder, one is expected to come up with ideas, when we hit an obstacle, it is my responsibility to find a solution. This has made me learn to think creatively and find on-the-spot solutions for problems.
So, what’s next? How do you imagine yourself and your brand in 5 years?
Kika Tableware has been an incredible journey so far. We have grown from strength to strength - whether it is our quality, our marketing, our sales presence, or expanding our customer base.
We have now built a steady base of customers in India - We have a physical presence with a retail store partner in Bangalore and working to add more stores to our portfolio in other cities in India.
Our own e-commerce platform is in the final stages of testing and we hope to go live in the next month or so. We have also tied up with an online retail partner in India and a curated selection of our products will be available to Indian online customers in another month.
We reach out to our customers by hosting private events, collaborating with chefs and restaurants to create a fine dining experience using our tableware, and we are also be participating in several exhibitions closer to the festive season. We will be doing our first exhibition in Dubai this year in October 2018, and that is another market that I am really keen to expand into in 2019.
In 5 years, I hope that this brand will be available to customers all over the world and will be the preferred choice for someone looking for unique designed tableware with a modern and contemporary feel. We are also planning to add a new KIKA Kids line to our portfolio by early 2019. We are also looking to bring in flatware and serving accessories to offer our customers.
Work is busy, but busy is good! I follow this simple philosophy -“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.” —Les Brown
Interview by Vasia Fragkou
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