Their stint at one of the country’s topmost design studios exposed Divya and Shivangani to the simple fact that behind garish and large buyers, there lay a substantial demand for tasteful and classically designed products. Coupled with the recognition of this niche was their joint dislike for factory-made fashion, which further drove the duo away from mainstream avenues of the consumer market in order to establish their very own design label, Kesya in 2015.
Kesya is Divya and Shivangani’s personally-deviced derivative of ‘kesariya’, the Hindi word for the colour saffron. One of the chief components of the Indian tricolour, saffron bears immense significance in terms of the Rajasthani and Indian identity in terms of being an auspicious and cheerful colour that symbolises ageless valour and courage.
As a contemporary design brand, Kesya aims to re-invigorate an interest in traditional Rajasthani arts and crafts through a range of fashion accessories for both, men and women, with a special focus on the former. Particularly notable in Kesya’s collection is their signature collection of men’s cufflinks, which borrow their inspiration from a wide array of sources, namely old colonial hunting scenes, palace frescoes, motifs, enamelled jewellery, arms and artefacts.
Using a base of sterling silver, Kesya’s panache is embellished onto its products using the ancient techniques of enamelling, hand painting and carving alongside the purposeful usage of semi-precious stones in some of their styles. In all, each of Kesya’s handcrafted products is reminiscent of royal craftsmanship that amalgamates family stories or age-old heirlooms with designs that are fashionable in the contemporary sense.
It didn’t take the duo long to occupy a notable position in the exclusive league of men’s fashion accessories in India, which was found lacking in terms of diversity and price dynamism before being enriched by entrants such as Kesya.
Divya and Shivangani justify the encouragement that they have received from several buyers, who have finally found respite in finding tastefully-made yet affordable collections of men’s accessories, which had thus far been a rarity in terms of pricing or sourcing limitations. The overwhelming demand for Kesya’s products reverberates not just amongst premium consumer chains of Delhi and Jaipur, but also towards the further urban landscapes of Bangalore and Ahmedabad.
The emergence of a highly-receptive market inevitably gives rise to alternate competitors.When perceived wisely and in one’s stride, competing brands further enable one to revise their own deficits and supersede their own limitations in order to keep up. However, Divya and Shivangani point to a more irksome yet unavoidable issue, namely that of plagiarism. Despite their authentic and deeply-deliberated design strategies, Kesya is no exception to the challenges posed by the imitation game. Elaborating this in her own words, Shivangani says, “imitation and replication is a huge problem, and it doesn’t stop at copying our products. Some of them even plagiarise our product descriptions and social media content! It used to worry us a lot in the beginning but we’ve come to realise that true connoisseurs of fashion will know how to differentiate. Sellers who’re replicating us or anyone are trying to take a short cut, they’re cheating and it doesn’t work in the long run.” Divya adds to this by making an interesting observation vis-a-vis present-day consumer trends: “moreover, today’s consumers are more informed in terms of their choices as well as quality parameters. Hence, they are in a better position to make judgements that help them determine the authenticity of genuine brands.”
In addition to its uncompromised sense of quality, Kesya finds immense strength in the successful partnership that Divya and Shivangani have fostered between one another as friends. “We’ve been friends for a very long time. In fact, we went to the same school! Knowing one’s business partner like we know each other makes work and communication much easier. However, no partnership is bereft of its own challenges. Hence, it is extremely important for two people to understand one another’s strengths and limitations while working together to strike an optimum balance towards the best interest of their venture. That said, a successful partnership requires a very good understanding between the partners and hence, good friends make great partners”, Divya explains.
As Kesya cruises into its third flourishing year, Divya and Shivangani continue to expand their product range that alternates from the predominantly male-centric approach to token bracelets and earrings for women. After finding inspiration for their latest collection in the Art deco era, team Kesya is gearing up to produce fine jewellery using precious metals and stones in the near future. The duo also looks forward to bespoke services for prospective corporate and wedding gifting, an exchange that they thoroughly enjoy for the innovation and mutual involvement that the process entails for themselves as well as their clients. With the soon-approaching festive and wedding seasons, Kesya is all set to dazzle and enchant its sprouting flock of patrons and admirers.