Melorra is an online jewellery brand creating affordable products inspired by fashion trends. Made by women, for women.
Have you ever seen the title sequence of Breakfast at Tiffany’s? It opens with a long shot of Fifth Avenue. A cab pulls up. Hepburn steps out and saunters up to the show window of Tiffany and Co. Staring, admiring the jewelry. It’s her sanctuary. She takes out a danish and a cup of coffee and walks to the next show window, taking her time…completely at peace. Later in movie she asks “Do you see what I mean - how nothing bad could’ve happened in a place like this?”
The more time I spend understanding the retail jewelry market the more I am drawn to this movie. Buying jewelry is as much about the experience of browsing as it is about the actual purchase. After the last year I’ve spent working with Melorra (coupled with 11 years of marriage) I’m slowly starting to understand this phenomena. There’s an inherent emotional journey every woman feels when she’s at a jewelry store. That experience, for me, is personified by this scene.
In the online world, most jewelry is sold the same way Amazon sells smartphones. It’s a transaction. There is a catalog with factual references about gold and diamonds quantities. You scroll through it, choose something and then purchase it. All emotion is lost. Which is probably why there aren’t a lot of large online jewelry companies in the world.
Saroja Yeramilli, the founder of Melorra, understands this well, and that’s one big reason we decided to invest in her business plan - a first for us. Melorra is our newest investment at Lightbox. It’s a online brand that sells affordable, western influenced, fine jewelry for every occasion. Each piece is designed in-house by some of the most talented Indian designers from around the world.
At Melorra, we operate in a fundamentally different way. Melorra’s technology is designed to recreate that experience, starting with the Stylefeed. The Stylefeed is like a fashion magazine with a buy button. The vision was to create beautiful images that focus less on jewelry and more on the look - a combination of the model’s attitude, the clothing, the setting and the jewelry. The images set the tone. We’ve brought in some of the best models in India, paired them with influential photographers and tried to create some magic.
The Stylefeed adds one more important element - advice on what jewelry to wear with what outfit. Over the past 5-10 years, western clothing has become a larger part of our wardrobe in India - especially for women. In my opinion, this is because of a combination of three factors. One, the plethora of foreign clothing companies entering the market at all price points- from Gucci to Zara, from Jimmy Choo to Aldo and so on. Two, magazines and bloggers have stressed more on western clothing, which has helped its readers understand trends and how to mix and match. Finally, Bollywood has become more Western and it’s given us something to imitate. And so, as a society, we recognise clothing trends better than specific kinds of jewelry. And that’s why the Stylefeed focusses on the clothes so much. You find your look and Melorra will help you find the right jewelry to go with it. And this is only the beginning - we have big plans for our Stylefeed!
To put all this together you need the right founder. Two key things I look for in a founder of an online brand play - 1. their understanding of the industry at a granular level; and 2. their past experience in building a brand. That unique combination of a knowledge set and real life experiences creates a massive differentiator. Saroja and I spent a lot of time discussing the Melorra opportunity. It’s not often I meet a founder that has such an in depth knowledge of their vertical that sitting with them is like having a masterclass on that industry. That’s exactly how I feel when I sit with Saroja and her team.
It’s taken us 7 months to announce this investment. 7 months in stealth mode building the team, designing jewelry, building the technology and setting up the supply chain. I’m so excited to finally share it! Let’s go shopping!
Written by Sid Talwar and first published in Tech in Asia
Saroja showing off her new jewellery
In this investment we are doing our small part in affecting the consumption patterns of our society. Harvard University sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson claims the earth can support 10 billion people – a number others predict may be hit by 2100.
Indian women’s lives have changed. It’s time the jewellery industry changed. With Melorra jewellery women do not have to endure heavy jewellery that they take off at the end of the day with a sigh of relief!
As technology investors, we strive to find ways to use technology to make an impact in people’s lives. What better way than with everyday food?
Taylor Swift demonstrates that while Spotify has 40MM users, she has a direct connection with 46.3M followers, known as the Taylor Nation. As a brand, her direct connection with people is so strong that she controls the balance of power in the distribution chain. This is a very strong statement and a real truth that all distribution businesses will quickly need to come to terms with.
We spend a lot of time thinking about the changing nature of ownership. It’s amazing how much “stuff” most of us collect over time. And how little we actually use in everyday life. It makes you start questioning consuming and purchasing habits in general.
How we see the market opportunity in India. Lightbox partners Sandeep Murthy, Sid Talwar, Prashant Mehta, Jeremy Wenokur, talk about fragmentation
It is really good to be a consumer today in India. Mass smartphone adoption has enabled businesses to reach consumers, and lots of them, for the first time. For consumers this means access to what was before limited to local distribution. Barriers have been lowered and new brands are emerging.
Creativity involves a certain amount of rebellion. The best thing a brand can do is to drive a product’s strategy through a market efficiently by provoking conversation and creating desire. Your fans represent the character, vibrancy and future of your brand.
Nua's founders Ravi Ramachandran & Swathi Kulkarni on co-creating a trusted wellness brand through great products, meaningful content and holistic care for women.
“There are now generations of Indian women whose dressing sense has changed, whose lifestyle has changed, whose needs are different, and jewelry is no longer playing a role in their lives except on their wedding day.”
You will receive the next newsletter in your inbox.
The monthly Gazette is your source of happenings within Lightbox - updates, blogs, deep dives, opinion pieces and all things consumer tech
Join the thousands who hear from us