Pune: Three years ago, when Seema and Rattan Joneja were putting the final touches to their dream home in a Mumbai suburb, they felt there was something missing.
Seema, an architect by training, discovered what it was—a perfect nameplate outside the door. She then proceeded to design one herself, confident in the knowledge that no stranger could know enough about her home and the thinking that had gone into it.
When it was completed, they liked the nameplate. So, it turned out, did their friends and neighbours who wanted nameplates for their homes.
Today, what started off as a home-made fix has turned into a business idea. The Jonejas— rather conveniently, Rattan is a finance professional who doubles up as an angel investor—run what is, arguably, India’s only chain of stores devoted to nameplates.
“We were deluged by enquiries from friends and neighbours about our nameplate and we figured that it made sense for us to get into the business,” says Rattan.
The Jonejas’ company is called The Pampered Home Pvt Ltd, and it runs three stores branded Identiti in malls in Mumbai. Each of these sells over 500 units a month.
A store will soon open in Pune’s Ishaanya mall, and The Pampered Home has plans to open 50 stores in Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi over the next three years.
Rattan, who is drawing up an investment plan, is understandably reticent about it. The company also plans to target customers in smaller cities by riding piggyback on large furniture or design stores entering these markets. And with 15% of their sales already coming from non-resident Indians, the Jonejas are looking to build an online storefront.
Despite the growing trend of real estate being viewed as an investment, a home remains a very important purchase for most Indians.
Rising salaries, aggressive marketing by developers, and an easier attitude to credit on the part of buyers have combined to create a real-estate boom.
“Five million homes are built in India every year and, of this, 1.5 million are urban homes, and many of these are owned by people who believe in premium accessories to complement their lifestyle,” says Rattan.
The Jonejas claim that the nameplate is usually the most neglected part of the home. Identiti seeks to redress this with hand-crafted nameplates that can cost between Rs750 and Rs6,000, although the Jonejas have designed and sold ones that cost as much as Rs20,000.
From nameplates for homes, they have also diversified into those for offices and other such places.
A few malls have also contacted the Jonejas to design and create the signage for some of their stores.
“Our idea is that the entrance to every home, office, hotel or mall should belong to us in the next few years,” says Rattan.