Recently, we interacted with Mr. Niraj Johri, Founder & CEO at Casa Décor, which is much more than a Home Decor Brand – it’s a culture and a lifestyle, where the focus is not just on transforming spaces and moods but also changing lives in the process.
Here are the interview highlights:
Tell us something about your products. How it is different from other players in the market?
Well, let me tell you, our products are not your typical run-of-the-mill Indian handicrafts. We bring a fresh and funky twist to the age-old designs, catering to the demands and aesthetics of the current times. Our products are a fusion of rustic, quirky, and multi-utility, making them stand out in the market. And, while we do honor our rich cultural heritage, we make sure that our products blend seamlessly into our customers’ homes. So, whether you are a traditionalist or a trendsetter, we have something unique and special for everyone.
Why did you choose to get into the decor segment?
Well, I have always been fascinated by the beauty of Indian handicraft, which I was fortunate to witness firsthand through my father’s business. Growing up in Rajasthan, I was exposed to the vibrant colors, intricate designs, and unique craftsmanship that the state is known for.
As I grew older and started exploring different industries, I realized that the home decor segment was an ideal platform for me to showcase the beauty of Indian art to the world. With the rise of the global market and increased interest in sustainable and ethical products, I saw an opportunity to create a brand that would not only promote the beauty of Indian handicrafts but also contribute to the livelihoods of the artisans involved. And co-founded Casa Decor with my brother Pankaj!
How many markets are you in? Any expansion plans?
We are currently present in over 5000 locations globally, both online and in physical marketplaces. We also have some boutique stores in Bangalore and Mumbai.
We are constantly exploring new markets and opportunities to expand our reach. In fact, we are planning to open one of our biggest stores in Noida before Diwali this year. We believe that there is a huge demand for our unique and authentic home decor products, and we want to reach as many people as possible.
How do you see yourself among other competitors in the market? Also, where all we can see casa decor’s presence.
Instead of simply offering customers’ classic Indian handicrafts designs like most of our competitors in the market, we give them a fusion of rustic, quirky, and multi-utility, which honestly is the demand and aesthetic of the time. While our products hold the essence of our rich cultural heritage, they are designed to fit into the everyday routines of our customers.
Any plans to open the stores or to get into the multi-product retail stores.
As I said earlier, we plan on opening one very soon.
What is revenue model?
We sell our products to retailers and wholesalers in the home decor industry through our B2B channel. This allows us to reach a wider customer base and promote our products on a larger scale. Secondly, we export our products internationally to various retail stores, which helps us expand our brand presence and increase our revenue through retail sales. These two revenue streams have been crucial to our growth and success as a company.
Can you tell us about your background?
Sure! I pursued my marketing major in the United Kingdom, and after that, I completed a gemology course in the USA. I come from a family that has been in the handicraft business for generations, and I have grown up seeing the beauty of this age-old art. So, my education and my roots have come together to shape my journey into the home decor business.
How would you describe yourself in one word?
I’d describe myself as a “perfectionist” type of person who is always striving to create beautiful and unique pieces for our customers. And, of course, being based in India where colors play a significant role in our traditional art and handicrafts, I’d say the word “colorful” also describes my personality and creative vision.
What is the last thing you’ve learned on the job?
Recently, we’ve been exploring the use of AI to increase our work efficiency. As someone who values innovation and progress, I’m always looking for ways to incorporate technology into our operations. It’s been really exciting to explore how AI can streamline certain processes and ultimately help us better serve our customers. Of course, it’s important to integrate it smartly and thoughtfully, so we’re taking the time to ensure we’re using AI in a way that makes sense for our brand and our customers.
If you had to come up with 3 words to describe the culture you want to create, what would they be?
I’m always aiming to create a process-driven, passion-seeking, growth-oriented culture.
By process-driven, I mean that we prioritize having clear procedures and systems in place to ensure that we can consistently deliver high-quality products and services. Being passion-seeking means that we are always looking for new ideas and inspirations to infuse into our work, and we encourage our team members to be creative and innovative in their approach. Lastly, we are committed to progressive learning and earning, which means that we are always looking for ways to improve our skills and knowledge through ongoing training and development opportunities.
What is your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, my key driving force has always been to be able to provide livelihoods for as many people as possible.
During the early stages of founding the brand while we were still doing local market research, I have seen the challenges faced by artisans and their struggle to make ends meet. It’s disheartening to see how their talent and hard work often go unnoticed and is undervalued. I want to change this and help them earn a sustainable livelihood.
I believe that entrepreneurship is a powerful tool for creating positive change in society. By creating a successful business, I am not only able to provide for my own family but also create jobs and opportunities for others. It is this sense of purpose and the ability to make a difference in people’s lives that drives me to continue to grow and develop my business.
What are some strategies you use to keep your team motivated?
Well, I believe in keeping things lively and creative in our workspace. Apart from regular team outings and fun activities, we encourage our team to express their artistic side and come up with new ideas.
Also, I believe in appreciating and acknowledging our team’s hard work and achievements. We make sure to recognize and reward them for their efforts regularly. After all, happy and motivated team members lead to happy and satisfied customers!
How many hours a day do you work on average?
As a business owner, I have to dedicate a significant amount of time and effort to ensure the smooth functioning of the business. On average, I work for about 10-12 hours a day, sometimes even more during the peak season. But I am passionate about my work and it gives me immense satisfaction to see the result. Thankfully, I have my brother Panjak, so the work gets divided. However, I do make sure to take breaks and prioritize my physical and mental well-being to avoid burnout.
What has been your most satisfying moment in the business so far?
Our most satisfying moment was definitely when we got recognized on a global level in the United States and managed to outperform all our competing brands by a whopping 50 percent! I mean, can you believe it? One in every five customers was choosing Casa Decor products! It was totally surreal like a dream come true. This recognition validated our hard work and pushed me to take some great business decisions.
Any tips for young entrepreneurs?
My advice to young entrepreneurs would be to follow their passion and not be afraid to take risks. It’s important to believe in your vision and work towards it with dedication and perseverance. Building a successful business takes time and effort, so it’s important to have patience and not give up easily.
Networking is also crucial in this industry. Connect with other entrepreneurs, attend trade shows, and build relationships with suppliers and buyers. It’s also important to stay updated with the latest trends and techniques in the industry to remain relevant and innovative.
Overall, entrepreneurship is a challenging but rewarding journey.