Zouk, a direct-to-consumer (D2C) accessories brand is making waves in the Indian handicrafts industry by promoting traditional craftsmanship and supporting local artisans. Founded by Disha Singh and Pradeep Krishnakumar, Zouk aims to showcase the beauty and versatility of Indian artistry while providing economic opportunities for artisans.
The journey of Zouk began during Singh's college trip to Kutch, Gujarat, where her batchmates expressed concern about the declining state of Indian handicrafts. Determined to change this perception, Singh and Krishnakumar launched Zouk in 2016, starting with the production of 20 laptop bags in a small factory in Thane, Mumbai. Over time this brand expanded its product range to include bags, footwear, wallets and accessories.
Initially operating primarily online, Zouk just now opened its first flagship store in Navi Mumbai on July 1, 2023, as part of its expansion plans. Singh and Krishnakumar remain committed to their vision of promoting India's heritage and connecting local artisans with a global audience.
India's handicraft sector is a significant contributor to the economy that is employing over seven million people, with women comprising 56 percent of the workforce. Zouk emerges an active role creator in supporting this sector through employing over 600 artisans across our nation. The company collaborates directly with artisans to preserve traditional techniques, provide fair wages, safe working conditions and create access to a wider market.
Zouk differentiates itself in a crowded market through focusing on authenticity, quality and blending traditional aesthetics with modern sensibilities. The brand aims to cater to customers seeking a fusion of heritage and style. This new brand Zouk also prides itself on delivering a seamless customer experience through both online and offline channels.
The brand's commitment to excellence has attracted investors' attention and in March 2023, Zouk successfully raised $3 million in a Series A funding round led by Stellaris Venture Partners. The funding will support Zouk's aggressive expansion plans, which include offline expansion, brand development and diversification of product categories.
Rahul Chowdhri, partner at Stellaris Venture Partners, commends Zouk for its distinct identification and addressing the evolving needs of the Indian lifestyle and accessories sector. Zouk has shown remarkable growth, with a 16x increase compared to pre-Covid levels and a customer base of 400,000 nationwide.
As Zouk continues to flourish, it not only contributes to the revival of Indian handicrafts but also serves as an inspiration for other brands in the industry. With its unwavering dedication to preserving traditional artistry and empowering artisans, Zouk is making a significant impact on India's handicraft sector while offering customers a unique blend of heritage and style.