Sanjeev Agrawal, CEO & founder, Orvi Surfaces

Sanjeev Agarwal pursued his undergraduate degree from Rajasthan University in commerce. He had a head start in his career as he received extensive hands-on training in handicrafts business while working alongside his elder brother. He developed a strong penchant for modern aesthetics and a refined eye for detail very early on. After honing his skills, he embarked on his entrepreneurial journey in 1992 and was actively involved in several business endeavours. By employing his expertise, he accelerated positive momentum around the brand and the group company gradually became one of the largest exporters of natural stones from India with exports to 42 countries.

 

The pandemic & the inevitable effect of Coronavirus lead shockwaves across industries as business activities came to complete standstill. Luxury brands were badly hit and incurred huge losses and some even came on the verge of closure. But it’s important for us to keep moving forward and always look to evolve with the times.

Considering this, it is critical to now judiciously invest time & resources in uplifting our workforces, artisans and communities. It’s a great opportunity to show solidarity to the workers on the front-line by empowering them through recognition, skill development & technology training. If this situation has taught us anything it is that we need people, we need communities to thrive and to survive. This has been one of the pre-eminent factors of success for all organisations during this crisis. Take care of your close ones, your employees, partners, customers, communities and they will in turn take care of you.

From a business perspective, I am a firm believer that instead of pulling back, it is time to invest in future. We need to constantly innovate and come up with products that emotionally connect with users. From investing in digitization to sustainable product & process choices to getting a much deeper understanding of consumer choices are some steps towards re-establishing ourselves as businesses.

Covid has forced the luxury segment carve out a place for itself online. I believe that a robust social media presence, Solid digital marketing and a strong e-commerce team have now become essential for all business. Online shops are set to become the leading channel for luxury purchases in the coming future and it is imperative for brands to embrace the digital side of business.

The 2021 consumer has now become a very conscious consumer. Beyond the product and aesthetics, consumers are now looking for brands with ethical practices, brands that make an effort to give back to the society, brands that care. This has given brands the opportunity to reflect on their company culture, environmental policies, CSR activities, etc. and use them to enhance their perception. At Orvi we have set out to accomplish two very different goals in regards with sustainability. As the world becomes more populated and the supply of resources shrinks, we are determined to ensure that every inch of stone is utilized, we have created product lines which just focus on that goal. The second goal is to revive and maintain the centuries-old techniques of creating hand-crafted surfaces and décor pieces in India. We pride in our artisans, & encourage them to create one-of-a-kind surfaces and décor products using art techniques like Tarkashi, inlay of semi-precious stone, etc. Hence, through financial empowerment, proper training, and a constantly available support system, the hand-crafted work is kept alive by Orvi, for both present individuals and generations to come. We observe that young millennials often make altruistic buying decisions & are keen to know about these facts when they chose these surfaces for their living spaces.

Brands now more than ever need to be authentic, keeping craftsmanship and experience at the core of who they are. A product or an experience that stands out and adds actual value,in the lives of the consumer will be better received by the market and will find itself ahead of the pack. At Orvi, we work very hard to understand the life spaces of our customers and every single peice that we create becomes an extension of our customers’ personalities & individual expressions. We believe that our clients, especially the young millennial continue to value everything handmade & especially after the way the world has changed this year, they will further make choices that support the Indian artisans & craftspeople. Many of our collections are an experiment for artistic exploration and a celebration of sustainability.

This past year has been a challenging one for luxury brands, but it has prepared us better for the times to come. Brands will bounce back stronger after this just like after the 2008 financial crisis. For better or for worse the rules of the game have changed and we need to embrace them rather than trying to ignore them.

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