In 2015, Astha Khetan had returned to her hometown of Udaipur after completing her undergraduate studies abroad and a brief stint at Hindustan Unilever. E-commerce was beginning to flourish across India, but design and furniture had yet to find their way into online marketplaces.
So from his home in Udaipur, one of India’s most culturally vibrant citiesAstha decided to start The house of thingsan online platform that sells luxury products in the field of interior decoration and furnishings.
Astha claims to enjoy a pioneer’s advantage by bringing luxury and niche designer items to a wider audience of design enthusiasts in India.
For Astha, entrepreneurship has always been the plan. Growing up in a business family in Udaipur, she was always passionate about design and the plan was to either join the family business or start something in the city.
Stand out in the design and furniture market
Astha startedcurating class-oriented or period-specific products and others that avant-garde designers offered.
The platform quickly diversified to offer products at different price points to meet the needs of a wider audience.
It was a highly curated platform to offer best-in-class products in categories such as furniture; home accessories, including candles, rugs, wallpaper, barware and glassware; lighting; works of art like sculpture, traditional art and textiles, paintings, and mixed media art, among others.
The House of Things showcases the works of over 300 artists from India’s remote villages to those of world renown, including Aditya Ahuja, Ardmore Design, Ecru, Paul Matter, Jay Strongwater, Rooshad Shroff, Scarlet Splendor and Michael Aram.
While the prices are decided by the artists themselves, The House of Things lowers the prices so that they are available at the same market price for the end consumer.
With prices for some accessories ranging from around Rs 500 to Rs 1,000, the most expensive piece of furniture sold on the platform was a piece of furniture from Duffy London for Rs 25 lakh.
So far, The House of Things claims to have grown profitably year on year without having to collaborate with bigger brands so far. Its largest market outside India is in the United States, Dubai and Europe.
In addition to its direct-to-consumer (D2C) model, the startup also runs business-to-business (B2B) operations, supporting consultancy projects for hotels like the Taj Convention Center in Goa and Aurika in Udaipur.
The House of Things expanded its offerings in time to meet consumer needs, Astha says some of its peers had to close shop over time. Now, the brand operates in India’s online home decor market, which is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.24% between 2022 and 2026, according to MarketResearch.
Changing consumer behavior
Indian consumers have long been hesitant to buy online and even more so when it comes to luxury items. Since 2017, Astha noted a shift in behavior where “touch and feel” no longer seemed as important to making a purchase.
For the platform, COVID-19 has been a blessing in disguise that has further accelerated online shopping.
Initially, convincing designers to join us was a challenge. Astha says it’s been hard to win over The House of Things as a platform to sell high-end design, but that has changed over time.
Ultimately, “In an increasingly globalized world where design and craftsmanship are valued, we wanted to disrupt the industry by supporting these companies and connecting creators to global consumers for contemporary design and craftsmanship. luxury,” says Astha. The entrepreneur now hopes to make a foray into the retail market this year.