From Selling Gems to Queens To Building Palaces, This Scion is Taking The Family Legacy Ahead
India's Pink City is enriched with tales and crafts from the era of the Maharajas that still find their way into the modernity of today's times. Gen-next entrepreneurs with their rich family traditions are whipping up a storm that doesn't disrupt the culture and traditions of the city but only grows along with it.
With an heirloom of diamonds, rubies, emeralds and more, Siddharth Kasliwal has a jewelled legacy to take forward. If not with a silver spoon (but probably that too), one can say that Kasliwal was born with an eye for the finer things in life. Kasliwal is a scion to Jaipur's Gem Palace, which has seen the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Oprah Winfrey, Princess Diana and many others from royal families across the world, make their way through the old city's busiest markets to see the intricate pieces of jewellery produced there.
Today, Kasliwal is not just living up to the legacy of his late father Munnu, but also breaking boundaries with his own entrepreneurial ventures in the hospitality industry.
Entrepreneur India caught up with Kasliwal, who has also often been termed as one of the most eligible bachelors in the country, as he spoke about being old school, believing in the exquisite craft of the royals and banking on the same for new ventures.
Tryst with Jewels
For Kasliwal, playing with rubies and diamonds was a childhood pass-time. As young as seven or nine years old, Kasliwal would accompany his father on trips abroad where the latter would go to mines and prestigious offices in New York or London. So, his exposure to the jewellery business wasn't inherited but learnt right from childhood. "My first contribution was when I was 17. I accompanied my father to discuss a possible exhibition at the prestigious Metropolitan Museum, a first for any jewellery firm from India," said Kasliwal.
After his father's passing in 2012, Kasliwal took on the reigns of the business producing his first collection in 2014 - an exquisite pique jewelled one which boasted of a marriage between the fine art of European French style designs with Indian enamelling. "It was a collection that was born out of a labour of love, attention to detail. It was such a big challenge because the work I was opting for hadn't been worked upon by anyone," he said. Kasliwal believes that the apple doesn't fall from the tree, which is why you see traces of his Dad's designs on his work. "But I'm not him, so my designs are inspired from his work, yet completely different," he said.
The Pressure of Running a Legacy Business
Everyone in their family contributes to the business but as Kasliwal took charge, he has felt the pressure of the name Gem Palace and living upto his father's name. Every day was a new challenge, customizing and creating bespoke jewellery pieces for clients. "My belief was to always stand strong, keep up the values and traditions of the family," said Kasliwal.
From his first collection itself, there were many questions floating about his capabilities but Kasliwal managed to outdo them all with a stellar collection that had the eyes of the world. From then on, he has gone on to produce three collections. "I like to challenge myself. The collection uses the same intrinsic techniques that were used by workers centuries ago, but the designs were friendly and playful. The work is labour intensive, taking over 12-13 months for one collection but the idea is to not commercialise the product," he said.
For Kasliwal, one of his biggest achievements has been to complete the exhibition work that his father had started for the Kremlin Museum in Moscow. Gathering his father's work and having his name up there in front of a crowd of over 650,000, gave Kasliwal immense happiness.
According to Kasliwal, another one of his achievements has been opening the luxurious Gem Palace in Mumbai's iconic Dhanraj Mahal, one that was a dream for him.
From Gems to Hotels - Being the Entrepreneur
While Kasliwal has been running the family business for long, he has hitchhiked onto the entrepreneurial journey. His family also runs a store Hot Pink which has contemporary artefacts created with Indian handlooms and textiles.
He even stepped into the hospitality industry with a boutique hotel in Jaipur. At the beginning of his journey, everyone said it's not going to work but Kasliwal who has travelled the globe believed in the concept of a property that is built on the rich culture of Jaipur while making way for new concepts like co-working. Putting together a French architect, a Lebanese designer and his hospitality team from Mumbai, he built 28Kothi.
"It's a creative space for people to walk in and indulge in a creative thinking process. With open spaces, gardens, rooftops and even a library, it is perfect even for a single lady traveller for most of the staff there is also female," he said.
The hotel which is meant for all has had the attention of many expats because of its safety and amenities, which makes it feel like home. "I have many expat friends and I understand the struggles they go through when they visit the city. I built the space keeping all of them in mind. We even have an organic cafe which dishes out delicacies that are otherwise not easily available in Jaipur," he said.
His entrepreneurial venture saw many question his moves but Kasliwal believes, "There was a challenge in doing it by yourself, having no one to fall back on. If you fail people will mock you but I had a feeling I won't go wrong. My biggest investment has been in friends and family, who believed in me."
For Kasliwal, it's the old school belief that drives him forward - the belief that the forgotten craft of yesteryears is going to pave the way for the future. And that, is his legacy.
In the business of news for 5 years now. Making my way across India thanks to my career. A media graduate from Symbiosis, Pune, I have earlier worked with Deccan Chronicle (South India's leading English daily), T-Hub (India's largest incubator) and Anthill Ventures (a speed-scaling platform).
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