Mr. Pavan Anand, CEO, DAGMAR house of fashion jewellery, started his career as an architectural consultant and worked for a brief period. Always having a penchant for artistic jewellery, that is when he decided to take a plunge at a young age of 24. He gave up his career as an architect to follow his passion. Started in 2004, the “Dagmar” brand of Jewellery has made rapid strides over the past eight years. Pavan Anand has taken the less trodden path, to carve out a significant niche, in an otherwise over cluttered space. His avant-garde perspective has resulted in launching many innovations in the jewellery domain. The pioneering and strategic use of leather, to render some unique and stunningly beautiful pieces, is one case in point. Pavan strongly believes that Idols and temples are simply a reminder to us of life’s journey and to encourage us to have faith, even though he is an avid ‘Bhagvad Gita’ reader. His pragmatism and global sense of style is honed as he is a diehard traveller and has zeal to discover novel luxurious destinations.
DAGMAR was launched in 2004. The essential endeavour of the label was to create unique pieces of Jewellery Couture with rich global antiquity as the inspiration. The driver of the designer was to take the rich Indian aesthetic to the west and create a robust niche for itself there. Over the years the brand now has representative offices in Toronto, Vancouver, New York, California, Caracas, Jakarta, Hongkong, Lagos, Dhaka, Singapore, and Casablanca among other locations apart from a presence in Mumbai and Chennai within the Indian sub continent. Having designed for a Miss Universe pageant and to have been a part of the Toronto Film Festival, New York Fashion, Jakarta Fashion week and now having tied up for exclusive live shows with the prestigious Toronto Shopping Channel have ensured that both the brand and its creator, have begun to be associated with truly cutting edge design style and a certain elevated perception of a premium niche standing. The brand has always targeted an exclusive niche consumer, one with an acutely refined and world seasoned aesthetic. At Dagmar, the attempt to make the sale experience as pleasurable as the product has also been off the essence. Pavan Anand hopes to diversify the label into other arenas of luxury and design in the years to come.
Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, Pawan Anand says, “India is a resourceful manufacturing hub, yet we have our limitations. Easier import would perhaps allow us to produce a better finished product.”
Give us a brief overview of the Artistic Jewelery market?
The Jewellery market in general today is an extremely robust market. Several different segments and genres have emerged, catering to an ever growing target audience. The "artistic" or semi-precious jewelry segment today is brimming with activity globally, just as most luxury and style-based commodities are. One has to look at the growing demand in an overview! With an astronomical amount of exposure to exquisite jewelry be it in the press or any form of media, beautiful jewellery in general is becoming a huge ‘aspirational’ commodity. With the prices of the precious metals and Diamonds at current positions more people are turning to more affordable options.
The artistic jewellery segment today as well has divided itself into several subsidiary segments ranging from very inexpensive and simple product to high priced, luxury pieces of jewellery with impeccable finish and styling. With a growing middle class especially in India and with more people slated to want to live better and look more fashionable in the years to come, this is probably just the beginning of what this specific segment is to witness in the years to come.
Is it limited to boutiques or are large brands also actively involved in this?
Affordable Luxury is the key word here and is a fundamental that I stick by as the designer and owner of Dagmar Jewellery. Across the board today, locally as well as internationally most lifestyle stores, boutiques, luxury brands have launched or are in the process of launching collections within this genre. With lifestyle in general being as dynamic as it is involving travel as much as it does today especially for the professional corporate women, a wardrobe is almost incomplete without a fair range of exquisite pieces of jewellery that make a statement and yet don’t cost the moon to purchase. Retail in general is embracing this phenomenon.
From Architecture to jewelry what is the link?
It was one of the most seamless transitions for me and I will definitely include architecture in my repertoire of work going forward. My Architecture degree has been extremely instrumental in creating the right discipline and strength of mind that it has taken and will continue to take to grow a business.
Aesthetically as well, most design is about concept, form, structure, colour coordination and balance. So the degree and experience in that field has been very instrumental. Jewellery was always a passion and I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to create a business out of that passion.
What is the size of the “Dagmar” brand of Jewellery. Comment on your national and international presence?
While growth is imperative for me, an even more essential fundamental has been to keep aspects of the business streamlined and hence efficient. Dagmar as a brand has grown very effectively since inception in 2004. I retail the collections with a certain hand-picked luxury stores across Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore. Our head office is based in Mumbai.
Up until 2008 a large part of business occurred within the Indian sub continent- Post that we diverted a lot of the emphasis to the West. So globally now we have Dagmar representative offices in New York, Toronto, LA, Orlando, Vancouver, Jakarta, Caracas, Kuwait and are now in conversation with potential people in Singapore as well as Casablanca.
You have also used leather in your jewellery. Do you face resistance because there are people who strictly stay away from leather too?
Fortunately for us, that did not occur. I guess people were able to appreciate the way in which the leather had been metamorphosized into something delicate and glamorous. In fact the launch of my collection occurred with our leather lines and the novelty of that concept was perhaps one of the reasons for a quick penetration into the markets then.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I think we are exposed to a cyclone of sights and experiences daily. However, it is a few snap shots that get locked away in the memory bank for potential use at a later time. For me travel is a very inspiring process. I’m inspired by the sea, by the effortlessness of our natural environments and its resilience. That’s one of the reasons most of my pieces have a certain quirky unfinished and natural/raw appeal to them. Antiquity from the world over is very inspiring as well ! Be it the pieces of the Nizam of Hyderabad or the Maharaja of Patiala.
Who is your target audience?
Our target audience is anyone and everyone that has a keen aesthetic sense and a flair for fashion. She is someone who is looking to make a bold yet sophisticated statement with her jewelry pieces. She is a world traveler and is constantly exposed to the best and will not settle for less than that.
What is the price range?
Our Retail price range varies from Rs. 8900 - Rs. 49,000 for the most part. Certain custom created pieces may cost more.
Concept of ‘couture’ is not usually heard in jewellery conversations and lifestyle parlance. You take credit for it?
Absolutely, the element of "High Fashion" or "Couture" has been associated essentially with garments up until fairly recently. I would like to believe that our collections were one of the first in the business that brought in that element of luxury and cutting edge styling into semi-precious Jewellery. Also the manner in which we sell our collections is unique. The sale process for example at our setups in Toronto or New York for is done ‘by appointment’ only and is in keeping with certain elements pertaining to luxury and high-fashion.
We also attempt at using our reach to do something towards the benefit of others, even if in small ways. We were very glad to recently have had a showing of our line in association with the "Children`s Hope" fundraiser at the Trump World Bar, Manhattan, New York.
Tell us a bit about your well-known clients.
A fair amount of celebrated celebrities from Hollywood as well as Bollywood have sported Dagmar Jewellery in addition to important dignitaries globally.
We also now have a show dedicated to my collection on the Toronto Shopping Channel termed the "Maharajas Collection"!
Brief us on the financials of Dagmar. What is the outlook for the coming year?
As per our company policy we cannot divulge information and figures. However, the brand today stands to grow with enormous potential and has infact grown multifold in terms of numbers from our inception in 2004.
What is your marketing strategy?
Niche and target marketing is a fundamental I have found quite effective for us. Online marketing and sale are a huge part of our global operations.
What are your capex plans? How would they be funded?
For the current set up we are entirely self-sufficient and self-funded. Moving ahead as a brand if and when we decide to enter other segments of luxury and style we may look for external funding or suitable partners.
What is your message to budding entrepreneurs?
Fear is a hugely crippling emotion! If one has the vision and passion, the goal must be pursued!! Irrespective of the outcome.
Your message to B-School students?
Business today is universal and all occurs on an open international platform. Being and keep informed on international trends and occurrences is as essential as knowing what the local books/curriculum have to offer.
Comment on some of your marvel pieces which are distinctly different.
I had the opportunity to create a Jewellery ensemble for a Miss Universe pageant a couple years ago- that was interesting! It was also fascinating to create an entire collection of antiquity inspired Jewels in association with the granddaughter of the Maharaja of Patiala in 2010.
Do you have jewellery for men too? Are you planning?
Not so far and unlikely we will enter that segment.
What are the opportunities and challenges in this business?
Opportunity would be the ever growing middle class as well as of course the HNI`s as well as developments in retail and branding overall. Challenge would be to ensure impeccable quality within perfect time frames, given the fact that a lot of the production in our genre of work is handcrafted!
How do you manage your artisans? What is your staff strength?
I prefer to keep my systems and supply chain very streamlined. We outsource a lot of the production so our focus lays on quality and branding. We have an efficient Quality Control procedure that is imperative for us. Overall administrative global strength would be approx 25 persons. Production/crafting strength is enormous and would range in the hundreds, most of which we outsource to keep our systems more efficient.
Anything that you desire in terms of regulations which could improve this business?
I think reduction on specific imports would be a welcome change. India is a resourceful manufacturing hub, yet we have our limitations. Easier import would perhaps allow us to produce a better finished product.
What is you goal in life?
My endeavor as designer and entrepreneur has always been to take the Indian aesthetic in Jewellery, being as opulent as it is- to the West. While a lot of companies/designers have opted to go "Western" in their forte`, in terms of the nature of the product- I opted to go as "Indian" as could be with the tone of our collections and it gives me great pride to see that being in appreciated in markets that may otherwise not be exposed to high quality branded Indian design. It was a very rewarding experience to have the opportunity to display the collections at New York and Jakarta Fashion Week events last year.