The year 2015 turned out to be rich in events for Vanya Chandel, as Hugo, her companion dog, entered her life.
That same year, after a year of working as a human resources manager at the Future Group in Gurugram, the MBA graduate from the Delhi School of Economics decided to make her entrepreneurial dreams come true.
Returning to his hometown of Kanpur, also known as the Leather City of the World, Vanya started exporting equestrian products to the UK and soon began to participate in international trade fairs.
In the business, she often found herself either personalizing certain accessories for Hugo or asking friends and families overseas to bring her certain toys or accessories.
“I just couldn’t find a suitable product in India. Eventually, I realized that the Indian market exports good quality products overseas and keeps the lower quality products for sale in India. It was a huge void to fill, ”she told HerStory.
In 2018, she launched ForFurs, a D2C pet care brand that claims to manufacture “export quality pet products for the Indian market” while continuing its export business.
From one animal parent to another
Vanya says being a pet parent herself helps her understand the needs of the market.
“I also got an idea of what kind of products people want for their dogs because there are no more pet owners, only pet parents. They need good products for their pets. the same way they would take care of their baby. “
Working out of a 3,000 square foot workshop in Sarojini Nagar, Kanpur, with a team of five, Forfurs offers a wide range of accessories for pets like cats, dogs and horses.
Produced in small series, the brand sells around 2,000 products per month. The products are available on e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, and Snapdeal, in addition to its own website. During the financial year 2021, Forfurs recorded a turnover of Rs 60 lakh.
Most of Forfurs clients come from the metropolitan cities of Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi. So, to enter the market in Tier II and III cities, in the next four months, Vanya plans to launch an economical range without compromising the quality of the products.
According to her, having a user’s perspective on good and bad quality has helped her produce quality products in small batches.
For example, she says her dog Hugo, being a Labrador, is incredibly strong and manages to break free from most leashes.
“So I built something solid by introducing brass hardware instead of nickel, and I’ve been using it for two years now. Other pet parents have felt the difference as well,” he adds. -it.
For Vanya, the challenge lies in long-established consumption patterns. “We’re trying to sell better quality products in a market where people are used to buying cheaper products, which often don’t last and need to be replaced every two months or so. Getting customers to invest in Forfurs products that would last longer is a challenge, ”admits Vanya.
Educating potential customers remains a difficult task, which is why Forfurs uses organic Instagram marketing to build brand awareness and presence.
Although the pandemic has posed a logistical challenge in shipping products, demand for Forfurs products has increased, with more people adopting pets for companionship during shutdowns and extended periods of isolation.
According to the dog food company Pedigree, Indians are domesticating around two crores of companion dogs as of October 2019, and food consumption alone is around Rs 1,200 crore per year. The country is also expected to account for a market share of over nine percent in the pet accessories segment globally, according to ResearchandMarkets.com.
Vanya believes that only a few names like Heads Up For Tails have made their mark in the pet care and accessories brands, and plenty of new entries are to be expected.
Amid the growing market opportunity, she says Forfurs’ offerings will be unique as Vanya manufactures its own products with a good quality control system in place “while most other brands source from China or from local manufacturers and resell ”.
Speaking about her pivot of supplying foreign brands to the launch of Forfurs in India, she noted,
“The US and European pet care markets have evolved with hundreds of established players. I can provide them – which is still a major source of income – but when it comes to launching my own brand, the Indian market is the place to be.
In the future, the brand aims to introduce designer products and accessories, as well as other more affordable product lines.