Pooja Chopra, Founder of PNA, recently spoke to EE about the scope of bespoke gifts and how PNA is leading the way in this industry.
PNA, the brainchild of Pooja Chopra, was conceptualized in 2012 to usher in an era of “accessible stylish luxury” in designer accessories. New Delhi-based PNA was awarded “Ethical Fashion Brand 2017” by PETA India in 2017. Recently, Chopra spoke to EE about the brand’s success and more.
You launched PNA Origine, a name synonymous with tailor-made gifts, at a time when the concept was still in its infancy. What were the obstacles you had to overcome to establish yourself in this niche market?
When I started offering bespoke gifts all those years ago, one of the main challenges I faced was creating something exclusive for each customer while keeping prices bearable. In the case of extreme bespoke gifts, like what I started with, a well-established brand or a label that is a subsidiary of a larger brand will charge a much higher premium cost. I had to keep my products price sensitive – an amount that people are comfortable with and that will make them want to come back and make me their go-to person for gifts.
The roadblock I faced was being compared to other major gift brands. I had to sit down with my customers and explain to them that the same product that other brands offer for INR 5,000 – something different and specially made for you – that I offer at a quarter of the price. There is no comparison! In other cases, you don’t sit with the brand owner or the creative person, you just deal with the rep and they sell you what’s made. Whereas, in my case, you sit with me and we arrange something that suits your style and taste. Also, I feel like people were apprehensive about the fact that I was new. So, once this step was taken, the blockage of making customers believe in me was also lifted.
In May 2021, PNA Origine celebrated its 9th anniversary. How was the trip ?
It’s been almost a decade and the journey has been very loving, to say the least. My clients loved the service and what I presented to them. It was also a bit of a challenge because PNA Origine was originally supposed to be a bag brand, a completely anti-leather brand. I had decided to be a cruelty-free brand from day one. So getting people to understand the concept, accept it and pay a good price was a challenge. But the trip was fun; I met so many people and grew as a person.
Also, I can see the difference between the bags I designed in the beginning and the ones I design now, and through that I see my personal growth as well. A lot of hard work has gone into getting to where we are today. We never had a showroom. We were briefly on e-commerce portals such as Amazon, Flipkart and Limeroad, and had a small store in Shahpur Jat for a while. But word of mouth spread only by referral and network because the quality of my products speaks for itself.
What do you think sets you apart from other bespoke product companies/brands on the market today?
Right now, I think, and can say yes, that other brands don’t do bespoke gift bags to the level that we do. We are open to making even one bag and even 100 bags of the same design or different models. I’m more like a gift consultant who can organize everything for you down to the smallest detail. Whether it’s integrating the clients’ vision, paying painstaking attention to every little attribute, or adding a personal touch, we go all the way. I even sit down with my clients to understand their perspective and requirements, and then add my creative inputs, like presenting them with color, design, and material options.
Speaking of design options, flowers are our signature gift motif. We use it in our decorations and packaging. Customers have even suggested that we go a little less far with the flowers, but we assure them that the end product would be no less lovely and luckily all of our customers have been happy with the end result.
The brand offers a variety of quality and high-end products ranging from corporate gifts, personalized items, bath bars to planting clips (pencils). What other products do you plan to add in the coming days?
There’s nothing planned for the New Year, but yes, we’ll be adding hand cleansers, foot creams and hand creams to our bath line. And like every year, we are going to launch a new range of bags for the spring-summer collection.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? What drives you forward?
All my inspirations are international, their history and the way brands create their products intrigue me. In the domestic market, where most of my clients belong, I draw inspiration from our rich cultural heritage. As a nation, we are so culturally diverse in terms of colors, patterns, patterns that it never ceases to amaze me. The patterns in Punjab are different from that of Assam and when you go to Rajasthan, the patterns change. I love to read history and what draws me to our past is fashion. We have always been opulent when it comes to color and vibrancy. For example, if you visit the villages of Rajasthan, you will come across old women adorning neon colored clothes. Like a color neon appeared on the international fashion scene only a few years ago, but we’ve had it for generations!