Mr. Colin Shah is the Managing Director of Kama Schachter Jewelry Pvt. Ltd., a position he has held since inception. Mr. Shah established Kama Jewelry in the year 1996 and was responsible for the successful joint venture with Leo Schachter in 2007 to form the new company Kama Schachter.
It is under Mr. Shah’s visionary leadership that the team at Kama is taking critical steps to drive profitability, gain global market share, improve product quality, customer care standards and consistently invest in technology.
Mr. Shah is the elected studded jewelry convener in the Gem and Jewelry Export Promotion Council of India (GJEPC) and is a committee member in the Santa Cruz Export Promotion Zone (SEEPZ) and Jewelry Manufacturers Association (SGJMA). He is a member of the Young President Organisation (YPO), comprising of a global network of approximately 20,000 young executives in more than 100 countries and a member of the Entrepreneur Organization (EO), an organization engaging leading entrepreneurs.
To date, Mr. Shah’s efforts have been recognized by numerous organizations’ including the Government of India and the Gem and Jewelry Export Promotion Council resulting in awards like the Largest Exporter outside SEEPZ for four consecutive years, the Udyog Ratna Award and Emerging SME Award.
|ET: Please share with us what makes the jewelry industry unique? In particular, please share with us the reasons for emergence of the diamond jewelry industry.
Jewelry is deeply ingrained in the Indian cultural heritage and passion for jewelry runs high amongst Indians. Moreover, the jewelry industry in India has a long history. It is not a fad product. From the early days, jewelry was worn as a mark of social status and the same factors continue to drive business even today.
Like in every aspect of the Indian ethos, cultural and geographical diversity holds accordance in the jewelry industry too. Demand for different types of jewelry, availability of talented craftsmen, availability of precious stones and gemstones caused this sector to rise. Furthermore, our expertise in the craft of cutting and polishing stones brought us in the limelight globally and soon India was amongst the few ‘cutting & polishing centres’ recognised worldwide. The labour-intensive (which was available easily) nature of the craft, its export orientation and potential to gross foreign exchange made it an industry to reckon with.
ET: What are the concerns faced by Indian jewelry suppliers in carving a niche in the international market?
CS: Earlier factors such as fragmented nature of the Indian jewelry industry, unorganised players in the sector, higher dependence on indigenous technology, inadequate capital to scale the businesses, made an impact on the growth prospects. Operating market dynamics internationally such as the cultural divide, alignment with global tastes and preferences, design sensibilities, their outlook towards India, standards of automation, expectation mismatch also proved to be limitations. Having said that, the Indian jewelry players did make a mark internationally. For example, 21% of the imports by US are from Santa Cruz Export Promotion Zone (SEEPZ).
Closer to the present times, over dependence on the US market, which in turn is dependent on the demand in the US economy, the fluctuation in the Rupee, unstable raw material prices, import and export regulations, emergence of China as a strong jewelry hub, competition from other goods in the luxury segment, all keep the Indian jewelry manufacturers on their toes.
ET: E-tailing is growing in India and we see the presence of specialised jewelry e-tailers too. What are your views on the e-tailing of jewelry?
CS: I don’t think jewelry manufacturers today have the choice to not do it. The discussion is about how well we do it. In principle, it works very well for a retail brand like ours which has brick and mortar presence only in 1 city, but is able to cater to customers Pan-India because of our e-commerce presence. Customers prefer it on account of the convenience and the choice it offers while manufacturers are lured because of the cost efficiencies, limitless shelf space, and a wider distribution network. So yes, it is definitely advantageous, but the trick here is how soon you can crack the code and make it a business model that is worth all that it takes!
ET: From a humble beginning as Kama Jeweller to what it is today – Kama Schachter, could you please share some insights about the company and its pioneering steps of differentiation from your competitors?
CS: Kama Schachter is amongst the top 10 diamond jewelry manufacturers out of Asia. Established in the year 1996, we have 18 years of experience in manufacturing, marketing and in distribution of diamond jewelry globally. We have received several accolades, the most prominent being the Largest Exporter of Diamond Jewelry out of SEEPZ for 4 years, Emerging SME Award and the Udyog Ratna Award. Our infrastructure includes 3 factories across India and China, design studios in Mumbai & Hong Kong, 6 sales offices worldwide and a diamond sourcing facility at BKC, Mumbai.
We are passionate about diamond jewelry. Years of innovation, high standards in quality, backed by our facilities for mass production with mechanization for precision, a wide assortment of basic skills and a customer centric approach has resulted in our ability to supply superior products at competitive prices. This along with customer friendly measures from our multi-cultural sales offices globally such as on time delivery and efficient post-sales service also makes us a preferred vendor-partner to work with.
ET: What are the challenges of being a first generation entrepreneur and what is your advice to our readers who would want to venture out into the world of entrepreneurship?
CS: In India, the business of Jewelry is family-run and unlike the others in the industry, I was a so called outsider. So the challenges were ample - right from learning the tricks of the trade, to gaining confidence of peers, associates, financers and customers alike, setting up a scalable business, building my army of leaders, differentiating Kama, and to put it mildly the challenges haven’t ceased yet. However, there was a will to succeed, the faith that I could do it and hardwork that I could invest. As I ventured, armed with a vision and these basic investments, the industry extended a warm welcome. About 18 years of running a first generation diamond jewelry business has taught me a lot and I would like to share some things I have picked during my journey:
Take risks: If you’ve never taken risks, there is nothing new you’ve learnt. Break free of inhibitions, don’t be afraid of falling down, and explore something that you’ve never seen or heard of. Your will is sure to find you a way to success.
Be positive: Once you’ve taken up something, think of success rather than worrying about failures. Do the best you could to make things happen. As J.R.D. Tata would put it, “Never start with diffidence;always start with confidence.”
Stay in touch: Staying abreast of the latest in your sphere of business is imperative. Change is inevitable and as we all know, ‘the only thing that is permanent’. Refresh your knowledge, keep yourself updated and be open to advancement in processes, ideas, technology et al.
Take care of people: People who serve you will look up to you. Take care of them and they will put their heart and soul into what they do for you. We have people working with us since we started and they are the real assets on the balance sheet.
Aspire for doing better: Having achieved a target, start preparing for a higher goal, because the fact that you’ve achieved something only means you is now ready and capable for something more.
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