Gems of Innovation: Shakti Piplani & Shefali Agarwal's Jewel of a Journey with IJI

Gems of Innovation: Shakti Piplani & Shefali Agarwal's Jewel of a Journey with IJI
Shakti Piplani & Shefali Agarwal: Co-founders of IJI
StartupTalky presents Recap'23, a series of in-depth interviews where we engage with founders and industry leaders to explore their growth in 2023 and their predictions for the future.

The jewelry design industry is a dynamic and creative sector, continuously evolving with trends and craftsmanship. Designers combine traditional artistry with modern aesthetics to create unique pieces. Sustainability and ethical practices are gaining prominence, influencing design choices and materials. Customization and personalization are key trends catering to individual tastes.

The 2022 valuation of the global jewelry market stood at USD 216.48 billion, with a projected growth to USD 308.36 billion by 2030 at a 4.6% CAGR. Rings currently hold the largest segment share at 33.7% in 2022, and projections indicate continued dominance, foreseeing a market share increase to 34.5% by 2030.

In a recent Recap'23 interview, we at StartupTalky had the privilege of connecting with Shakti Piplani (CEO) and Shefali Agarwal (COO), Co-founders of Increate Jewelry Institute (IJI). We investigated the growth, challenges, lessons, and future plans of IJI, revealing how their innovative approach is revolutionizing the jewelry courses industry.

StartupTalky: What does Increate Jewelry Institute do? What was the motivation/vision with which you started?

Shakti Piplani: We at Increate Jewelry Institute offer various jewelry designing courses by hand and by software. In our journey, we have experienced some major skill gaps in working professionals and students, which led us to the idea of opening up this institute and providing the right skill set required in each field to every aspirant. We have a vision to create unique and master jewelry designers by enhancing their skills and thought processes, which are valued globally. 

StartupTalky: What is/are the USP/s of IJI?

Shakti Piplani: IJI offers a diversity of courses, which includes courses like Redesigning Expert, which have never been taught before. Courses have been diversified to cater to different aspects of jewelry design. Our faculties have great experience in their respective fields, and new parallel ways of jewelry designing are inculcated according to market trends, which makes us stand out from the rest.

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StartupTalky: How has the jewelry design industry changed in recent years, and how has IJI adapted to these changes?

Shakti Piplani: Our institute provides a comprehensive and forward-thinking education in the technical jewelry sector, preparing students for the integration of technology in their future careers. Procreate, a graphics editor app, which is a new software and not being taught in institutes right now, is one of our latest additions to our advance technical courses. Apart from this, we have CAD Matrix 9.0, a widely used 3D modeling software for jewelry designing. We provide students with CAM wax pieces of their own design upon the completion of the course. IJI offers a brief training in Corel Draw as well, a 2D illustrator software very necessary in jewelry designing

Shakti Piplani: At IJI, we are always doing market research. We give projects to students guided by our mentors, who navigate the changes based on evolving markets and trends and create unique designs. This exposure fosters more comprehensive opportunities to understand diverse consumer preferences and enhances ability.

StartupTalky: What key metrics do you track to check IJI's growth and performance?

Shakti Piplani: We assess customer satisfaction and loyalty based on feedback & recommendations. We constantly monitor employee engagement and turnover rates to gauge internal productivity & efficiency to give the best education/service. Understanding our company’s position in the market as compared to competitors is a key metric to check growth and performance. We keep on analysing website traffic, conversion rates, and social media engagements for the online presence of IJI.

StartupTalky: What are the different strategies you use for marketing? Tell us about any growth hack that you pulled off.

Shakti Piplani: We are onto social media marketing, influencer marketing, referral marketing, SEO, and content marketing. In all, we are trying to reach as many people as we can.  Earlier, we did not offer any online courses but people are approaching from remote areas who are unable to reach us and want to pursue jewelry designing, so we have started our online course modules. They are live now!

StartupTalky: What are the important tools and software you use to run IJI smoothly?

Shefali Agarwal: We use software like CAD Matrix, Procreate, and Corel Draw to run our courses. There are many other technologies that we use for constant market research and training for our students, and we provide all knowledge of digital platforms during our respective courses.

StartupTalky: What opportunities do you see for future growth in the jewelry design industry in India and the world? What kind of difference in market behavior have you seen within states in India?

Shefali Agarwal: Opportunities:

  • Traditional and custom-designed pieces continue to be in demand, especially for weddings and festivals, which will grow business in INDIA.
  • Globally, jewelers are incorporating innovative designs and materials, such as sustainable items, which may appeal to environmentally conscious consumers.
  • Cultural influences continue to shape global jewelry preferences.

Difference in Market Behaviour: States often have diverse culture subgroups, each with its own unique jewelry preferences. Differences in state-level taxation and regulations can impact the pricing and availability of jewelry affecting consumer behaviour.

StartupTalky: What lessons did your team learn and how will these inform your future plans and strategies?

Shefali Agarwal: At IJI, we believe in keeping ourselves updated. The team embraces technology for effective teaching and administration. We invest in advanced learning management systems, collaboration tools, and virtual learning platforms. We will try to foster global partnerships, exchange programs, and collaborative research initiatives to enhance the institution’s global standing.

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StartupTalky: How do you plan to expand the clients(students), service, and team base in the future?

Shefali Agarwal: With our modern teaching, administration, and student engagement, we understand the educational needs and demands of the local community. IJI has considered offering a variety of learning options, such as online courses, blended learning, new workshops, and flexible schedules. IJI aims to prioritize student success and satisfaction by providing quality education and support services. As stated earlier, we constantly gather feedback regularly to make continuous improvements.

Our curriculum is designed in such a way that it adapts to industry trends and incorporates practical skills. We have collaborations and ties within the industry for placements and research, and we plan on having partnerships with more educational organizations in future organizations. Design systems and processes that scale as the institute grows.     

StartupTalky: One tip that you would like to share with people reading this article who want to get into entrepreneurship?

Shefali Agarwal: We are living in a developing country where every market evolves, so successful entrepreneurs should be flexible in adjusting their strategies based on changing circumstances.

StartupTalky extends its gratitude to Ms. Shakti Piplani and Ms. Shefali Agarwal for dedicating their valuable time and generously sharing their insights with all of us.

Explore more Recap'23 Interviews here.

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