Young scions Shashwat and Shivika Goenka are making all the right noises with a fresh approach
When most business houses were down and out during the pandemic, recuperating from the unprecedented economic blow, young scion Shashwat Goenka had to work round the clock. The business tycoon, who is the sector head, retail and FMCG of RP Sanjeev Goenka Group, had to spend late nights planning with his team, how to reach the essential commodities to common man’s doorsteps from day one of the 90-day lockdown period.
Not only that, Goenka, along with his creative and equally enterprising wife Shivika, who is the director of Quest and The Gift Studio has come up with a splendid one-stop online gifting solution with curated gifts to take care of all your gifting woes. Also, Shivika is equally busy with her new fashion venture The Wardrobe, an online platform where the best designers showcase their latest edit for you to choose from. Excerpts from the chat:
How did you cope with the pandemic as a couple both professionally and personally?
Shashwat: From a professional perspective, it was a whirlwind phase because our businesses (CESC and Spencers) have been completely operational right from the day one of the lockdown. It was very hectic but also very rewarding at the same time. I was extremely busy — we had to do tie-ups and there was so much work to do and so much to ideate and innovate to keep things moving. We tried out new things, replanned and rebuild simultaneously so that our patrons didn’t face any trouble.
Personally too, it was a busy phase since I ended up working on all the seven days of the week from home. It has been busier than normal times for us.
And despite that, you two have come up with The Gift Studio.
Shashwat: Yeah, it’s an online bespoke gifting concept. This is something which we have been figuring out the right time to launch and the pandemic fast-tracked the whole launch process. The overall gifting market in India is matchless in terms of potential and goes up to a couple of billion dollars and includes personal gifting, corporate gifting, gifting during the wedding season and other occasions.
The idea was how do we tap into that market and we had a little bit of idea with Nature’s Basket, where we have a very small gifting vertical offering curated gourmet food article hampers for customers. Hence we wanted to take that forward and enter the gifting market as a standalone business. And the pandemic just fast-tracked the entire process. We wanted to give the consumers a thoughtful online experience, where they can choose curated gift hampers seamlessly.
Shivika: In fact, we had a wonderful inning during the Pujas and Diwali when people were a bit shaky about going out and shopping for their near and dear ones. We came up with a curated section online, delivering the bespoke gift items to family members. The unique thing is that all the gifts are food-related hampers including different cuisines and options including vegan hampers.
There are multiple mixes and matches that you can opt for and you can add flowers and balloons and nice designer wrappers for a bespoke packaging to enhance the look and feel. In fact, we have certain hampers hand-picked and curated by celebrities including Anamika Khanna and Sonam Kapoor and we will be adding to that list with time. We have a strong quality check in place and there‘s something for everyone with price starting at Rs 500.
Are there plans to include other offerings apart from food items?
Shashwat: We will be entering into other categories soon including electronics, personal care and baby products in the future and depending on the demand and response, will think about apparel too. Shivika: The entire look and feel have been designed in consultation with artists like Paresh Maity and Krishnamachari Bose.
Do you think the lifestyle market has changed?
Shivika: We are witnessing a sharp market recovery with people starting to venture out with the fear of the pandemic slowly receding globally. Hence it’s a matter of time before we fully recover.
What helped your business to survive during the pandemic and lockdown?
Shashwat: Our first concern was keeping Spencer’s stores operational and getting required permissions for the same. For that, we quickly collaborated with third parties to manage delivery because the demand soared quickly. We also introduced strict hygiene measures and worked towards innovative solutions to unique problems that cropped up every other day. It made us agile, turned us into quick thinkers and more adaptive to changing and challenging situations.
What are your plans for Spencer’s and Nature’s Basket?
Shashwat: Immunity-boosting health products will be more in focus for us since there is a growing demand in that category. People are wanting healthy food items rather than processed and fast food.
Shivika, what are your plans with The Loft. It’s known for showcasing the best of global designer labels?
Shivika: We are showcasing online curations on our social media handles as of now. Also, we have just come up with The Wardrobe, an online version of a multi-designer store where we are showcasing hand-picked 15 homegrown labels, who highlight sustainability including Urvashi Kaur, Chola The Label, Lovebirds, Notebook, Scarlet Sage, Chillosophy, Janavi, Purvi Doshi, Sva, Diosa Paris, Zaza and Kartikeya. There are also interesting big names like Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla, Riddhima Bhasin, Shivan and Narresh among others. It’s a one-stop destination shop for all your sartorial needs including accessories.
Is there any perceptible change in fashion choices?
Shivika: In the luxury segment, the consumers are more aware and responsible now with sustainability being a major concern.
•Comfort food: Hot spicy noodles with extra chillies
•Hobbies: Travelling & exploring new places, photography, running, cooking
•Fave holiday destination: London
•Things you like doing together: Cooking and travelling
•Favourite designers: Chanel, Zimmerman, and Ralph & Russo
•Favourite songs: Too many! Can’t pick just one
•Love is?: Unconditional
•Key to a loving marriage: Communication and trust