The ‘Zara of jewellery’—this is how Akanksha Arora, the CEO of Tribe Amrapali, likes to identify her brand. She is on a mission to create jewellery pieces that are ubiquitous, distinct, and an intrinsic part of the millennial zeitgeist. Akanksha inherited her love for jewels from her mom who is a jewellery designer herself. That interest was further fostered when she married into a jewellery designing family—the creators of the legacy brand, Amrapali Jewels. She joined the business in 2008 and brought a fresh perspective to the brand with innovative marketing strategies and a focus on going digital.
By 2013, she was all set to unveil a modern iteration of Amrapali with their social media debut on Facebook. Soon enough, the business doubled and they started receiving numerous requests from customers who wanted to shop online. The high price point was the biggest challenge that they faced. Eager to make her mark in a competitive industry, Akanksha then decided to transition from fine jewels to demi-fine creations with a new brand—Tribe Amrapali. An offshoot of Amrapali Jewels, the brand was created to cater to a younger audience seeking affordable jewellery. The idea was to design everyday jewels that did not run the risk of discolouration and damage. Akanksha launched the brand through an e-commerce website.
Akanksha is now chasing her dream by creating jewels that speak for themselves. Every bit Indian and yet modern, she has made Tribe Amrapali a brand unlike any other in the jewellery space. According to Akanksha, jewels should tell a story for them to be truly cherished. At Tribe Amrapali, she ensures that every stunning piece tells an enthralling one.
Tribe Amrapali’s website went live in 2015 after Akanksha’s unyielding efforts and a number of challenges. Digitising a traditional business was a huge undertaking and there was no precedent to follow. “It took me over a year and a half to work on the website. We were a team of just three. We were the merchandisers, the customer servicing team, and everything else,” she recollects. As someone who never says “never,” Akanksha gave it her all. An amalgamation of the right marketing strategies with quirky Bollywood-inspired collections worked for the brand. Their Baahubali and Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi collections put them on the map. Today, the brand continues to blend Amrapali’s traditional techniques with contemporary aesthetics to create best-selling jewels.
Akanksha believes that Tribe Amrapali has worked because she focussed on the re-birth of the brand while taking inspiration from her family’s history. In a way, she created an extension of her own persona with the brand. Today, Akanksha heads the International Trade Fair Operations and Design team of the entire Amrapali Group. She travels extensively for inspiration as well as to manage their ever-expanding business. Yet, at the end of the day, it is spending time with her family that she cherishes the most. A mother of two, Akanksha spends her days juggling work and family and wouldn’t have it any other way.
For our #POPxoWomenWhoWin series, we take inspiration from creative women with an entrepreneurial spirit. Akanksha Arora fits the bill perfectly. In a recent chat, she talked to us about life as a second-generation jeweller and how she brought a fresh perspective to the brand. Excerpts below:
How do you begin your day?
I begin my day with a cup of coffee followed by a hearty breakfast. Then I go to drop my kids at school. Until recently, schools were online and I was working from home. Now that my kids are going to school, it is easy for me to go to the office again. Life’s getting back on track and I strive to strike the right balance between work and family now.
How do you organise your day or manage your time?
Honestly, it is difficult to manage time, especially with two kids and the ongoing pandemic. In the first wave of the pandemic, we also faced a staff shortage because a lot of them left for their villages. The fact is that when you are trying to create something big, the challenges will always be there. This is why I believe in organising my day in advance. It’s integral because I have to work around my kids’ schedules. Luckily, I have a good support system at home and that has helped me a lot.
What were you doing before stepping up as Amrapali’s CEO?
Before Tribe Amrapali was born, I was looking after the marketing department of Amrapali along with social media and design.
Tell us about some of the new changes and ideas that you have implemented at Amrapali after taking the reins.
My husband and I belong to the second generation of Amrapali. We knew that we had to evolve with time and started digitising the business. We made a conscious shift to social media and e-comm. The times are changing and you have to keep up with them if you want to make it big. In order to stay relevant, is integral to keep updating your skills.
What would you term as your biggest professional accomplishment so far?
We opened Tribe Amrapali as an e-commerce store and then scaled up to establish six stores at malls and airports. However, the biggest achievement I believe is bringing a younger perspective to the brand. It has helped us connect with a younger and wider audience base.
What are the skills or qualities that have helped you succeed?
If there’s something I feel I cannot do, I challenge myself to get it done. Constantly pushing and working on myself every day have immensely helped me in my career.
What would you say has been the biggest turning point in your career?
When we first launched our e-comm website, it took me over a year and a half to take it live. We were a small team and none of us knew how an e-comm website worked. From merchandising to addressing customer queries, we were doing it all. It was a challenging journey. We didn’t have anyone to guide us at that point. We managed everything on our own. That was a big turning point.
A mantra that you swear by in your professional and/or personal life?
I believe in knocking on all doors and in the end, one of them is sure to open for you. I never let go of an opportunity. I never say “no.”
What advice would you give to youngsters considering a career in the industry?
My advice for youngsters will be to stay unique and true to their path. Steer clear of copying and doing the generic stuff. Most importantly, hard work is non-negotiable if you want to succeed.
Considering that you have a packed schedule, how do you unwind?
I unwind by going out with friends or having them over. I also enjoy cooking for my kids, reading, and watching Netflix with my husband.
Akanksha Arora lives in Jaipur. Her journey has been inspiring and wholesome. Team POPxo wishes her all the luck in her future endeavours.