Good food is just one important part of an exceptional culinary experience. It’s an overall sensory journey with the ambience, food plating and presentation, sophisticated tableware and linen all coming together in perfect harmony. More than ever before, Indians are now keen on creating these lasting experiences within their home, and Janaki Kirloskar has brought us all a step closer to creating our own dreamy tablescapes.
Janaki’s journey, from the fourth generation of a 130 years old business family to an entrepreneur with a unique vision, is as fascinating as the brand she has founded. Janaki is an engineer who studied honours in industrial engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA. After completing her studies, she worked with her father, Vijay Kirloskar, for over a decade, before entering the entrepreneurial world with her own business venture, KIKA Tableware, a company she founded in 2016. The name was an amalgamation of the two most significant forces in her life – her two daughters, Devaki and Mihika.
As the founder and CEO for KIKA Tableware, Janaki has a vision to break the stereotype thought that luxurious looking tableware needs to be expensive. As KIKA Tableware gets ready to make its debut in the city, Janaki managed to take out some time from her hectic schedule to tell us about her fascinating journey, her inspiration, challenges, and vision for KIKA, as well as he plans for the future and current decor trends.
What inspired you to create your own tableware label KIKA?
After working with my father for over a decade, I decided to take the plunge and step out into the entrepreneurial world with my new business venture, KIKA Tableware. The inception of this brand began when I was shopping for my home and found that was a void in the tableware segment. There was tableware offered by international luxury brands with beautiful designs at steep prices or lower-end tableware for daily use with standard designs. I decided to enter a new segment of tableware, one that offered luxurious and beautifully designed tableware at more affordable prices.
What are the core brand values you see embedded in KIKA?
This brand emphasizes the idea of offering modern and unique designs on beautiful and luxurious tableware for your home at affordable prices.
How is KIKA Tableware different from other dining decor brands?
KIKA Tableware aims to give its customer premium quality tableware with innovative and modern designs and maintain an easy-on-the-pocket price.
Luxury tableware is viewed as an expensive indulgence. How do you plan to break that stereotype?
Food, dining and drinks have become a huge trend in the past few years. People are exploring new ways to serve food – be in on tableware such as bone china, wood, glass, porcelain or any new hybrid materials. Traditional high end fine china dinner sets have become a thing of the past. People are looking for mix and match, versatile and modern options to serve their food while entertaining at home.
We break that stereotype of luxury tableware being an expensive indulgence in two ways – firstly, our products are all individually priced. It allows the customer flexibility to build their “dinner set” within what suits their budget. Secondly, we offer a wide variety of designs of serving platters and bowls – very often, you can invest in a few platters or bowls to elevate your table look while still using your own basic crockery.
What products and collections does KIKA currently have? What are the most popular products?
KIKA Tableware offers a variety of products in the tableware range which include dinner plates, quarter plates, serving platters, serving bowls and mugs. These products are made from premium quality bone china and are finished in 24k gold or platinum detailing. Each piece is designed meticulously to complement each other and I encourage my customers to mix and match their tableware from the collections.
Our mugs and serving platters have been the most popular products. These products are fast moving and represent the world we live in today. We all have busy lives and to find time to sit down and have a meal maybe difficult, where as enjoying a cup of coffee or tea with some snacks is a popular trend now.
Where does your inspiration come from when working on a collection?
I gather inspirations for my collections from my travels and adventures. We have collaborated with several talented graphic designers from India & overseas who help to translate my ideas into these beautiful pieces of art.
Is there a collection you are most proud of?
For me, it’s impossible to choose between the collections. Even now, every time I look at them while doing the photo shoots or while showing them to customers, my heart skips a beat and I fall in love with my tableware all over again.
Is there a specific kind of tableware you enjoy working with most? Why?
We have worked with bone china as our preferred medium for the tableware. I love the “pure white color” of bone china and it is an extremely durable product. Personally, I like whiteware options that are lightweight with clean and modern lines.
What designers/artists have been inspirational to you in your work?
I love pattern, prints and colours. I have been inspired by several clothing designers such as Diane Von Furstenberg and Emilio Pucci’s prints. I have also been inspired by several international and homeware and tableware brands who have the most incredible attention to detail and design.
How do you feel KIKA is evolving from the time you started?
Kika Tableware has been an incredible journey since we started. It has been a little over 18 months since this company was founded. 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 Bangalore and we are slowly looking to expand our presence in India into the other major metros. We have a physical presence with stores in Bangalore and working to add more to our portfolio in other cities. Our 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 increased our reach to the customers by hosting private events, collaborating with chefs and restaurants to create a fine dining experience, and will also be participating in several exhibitions closer to the festive season.
What does your online clientele look like?
My clientele is primarily women aged 30 to 70. Most of my clients are married and are looking for new and modern design in their home products and tableware. They want something stylish without having to worry too much about the price point.
Running a business is never easy, leave alone creating a brand from scratch. What are the challenges you faced as an entrepreneur?
Starting a new business and brand always comes with a host of challenges. For me, one of the scariest aspects of this new path 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. Since I’ve started this new business, there have been long, long hours of work required which can be daunting at first. However, with the support of my family and friends, I have been able to find ways to unwind and not be stressed.
What has been your most rewarding moment or experience as an entrepreneur?
Whenever a customer buys my product because they love the design, I feel incredibly satisfied and proud of creating this company.
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 as the “starter kit” when you begin to invest in tableware. It’s always nice to impress your guests while serving a hot beverage and a snack.
What do you see trending when it comes to decor/tableware?
In a recent New York Times article, it states that “this is a booming time for the $2.25 billion tabletop industry, according to Joe Derochowski, a home-industry adviser for NPD Group, a market-research firm”. People want a better lifestyle and want to invest on aesthetically pleasing products for their home and hence design plays an important role in tableware. With occasions at home becoming more casual in the recent years, people are happier to invest in more pieces that are affordable rather than invest in maybe just one or two high end dinner sets.
Janaki will showcase her new collections in the city at the IMC Exhibition on 5th and 6th of September, and is also looking forward to the launch of KIKA Tableware at the luxury retail store AA Living. Check out more stunning designs from the brand on their Instagram Page. And since the festive season is almost here, giving you all a sneak peak at some of the KIKA Tableware Gift Hampers that should definitely be on your wish list.