Rohit Sharma, Managing Partner of Carpets of Kashmir tells us about its exquisite workmanship of handmade, hand-knotted carpets and rugs.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Rohit Sharma: Thankfully, we all are doing quite well and staying positive.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Carpets of Kashmir.
Rohit Sharma: The company, Kashmir Oriental Carpet Enterprises, was founded by my Father, Mr. P.L. Sharma, way back in 1979, along with 4 of his colleagues. The 5 partners were at one time working at another carpet company in Mumbai (then called Bombay) since 1960. For 19 years, my Father gained a lot of experience in understanding the intricacies of this business and then finally decided to take the proverbial entrepreneurial plunge 19 years later. Since 1979, our company has been the market leader in producing exquisite handmade carpets and rugs that are manufactured at our various workshops across India, including Kashmir, Agra, Jaipur, and Varanasi.
I joined the family business in 1997 and have been working in various verticals of our company, such as marketing, exports, inventory management, CRM, and finally, sales.
In 2003, we launched our website www.carpetsofkashmir.com, and since then, the website has undergone various avatars, with the last major facelift done in 2018. Coincidentally, our company has adopted the name of our website, Carpets of Kashmir, for itself in 2018.
We are currently doing 70% of our business online, and because of our wide reach and expertise, we have been able to ride the COVID-19 storm reasonably well. Our USP is custom-made carpets and free shipping worldwide via FedEx. With over 2000+ carpets, rugs, flat-weaves, and Kilims ready in stock, we offer the widest possible selection for our customers across any continent to select the right rug from the confines of their homes, office, or home-offices!
How does Carpets of Kashmir innovate?
Rohit Sharma: Our company keeps track of the changing interior décor trends and works closely with designers, architects, and décor experts, by introducing fresh new collections of gorgeous rugs in varied colors and designs, be it in contemporary styles, Oriental motifs, transitional themes, or Tribal-inspired geometric and abstract designs.
We have a massive repertoire of designs inspired by old paintings, manuscripts, tapestries, artwork, sculpture, architecture, miniatures, jewelry, even music, and yet, we keep ourselves abreast of the ever-evolving developments in the upholstery, furniture, and décor segments, and design new collections of our rugs every month accordingly.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Rohit Sharma: Initially, the pandemic hit us extremely hard. With dwindling production and cancellation of orders, we were staring at huge losses; however, things changed since September 2020, and due to the regular launches of our spectacular and rare carpets that were showcased on our website, we were able to reach out to newer markets and customers across the world. Being online for the last 18 years helped us gain the first-mover advantage, and due to our credibility, we were able to get over the crises.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Rohit Sharma: Yes, we had to close-down our hospitality and corporate-centric vertical due to the virtual drought of inquiries and business from these segments. We are hopeful that we will be able to restart this vertical by the third quarter of this year.
The lessons learned are that long-standing relationship with our vendors, partners, and customers are far too valuable than anything else. Due to the strong and intrinsic bond we had with all of them, we were able to keep ourselves afloat.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Rohit Sharma: Communication, transparency, and commitment are the skills that have helped us all this while.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Rohit Sharma: There is immense competition, both in the domestic and the international markets, and each company has its own strength in production, inventory, retail penetration, or as an online brand. We respect all our competitors; however, at the same time, we believe we have the perfect amalgamation of all the above facets and are confident that we will continue excelling by delivering the most opulent carpets to our customers worldwide. We are perhaps the only carpet company in India that is a one-stop-shop that caters to customers from every segment, be it the rug connoisseur who is looking for a vintage-dyed Persian masterpiece, a young consumer who’s interested in a chic rug, a suburban couple who prefer the Southwestern geometric pattern, or a family that is looking for carpets for various spaces in the home – the dining area, the media room, the den, the bedroom, the corridor runner, and a grand statement piece for the living room!
Your final thoughts?
Rohit Sharma: Ultimately, each of our carpets is unique and tells an enchanting story, and we believe we are the masters of this narrative and therefore are the preferred rug merchants for dignitaries, celebrities, distinguished people from the corporate world, and last but not least, for the homeowner who wants a carpet or a rug that is a part of a Living Tradition called Carpets of Kashmir!
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