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Gifting planners became digital stationary business for this sibling duo

In FY2020-21, the Odd Giraffe Lifestyle Pvt. Ltd.-run brand earned more than ₹1 crore in revenue.

Karan Joshi (left) and Sanil Joshi (right) stumbled upon Odd Giraffe while creating Diwali gifts in late 2018.

In the 21st century of fast evolving phones, with most GenZs writing messages and even studying electronically, a start-up is chasing paper.

Through their journals, sold under the brand Odd Giraffe, Karan Joshi with his sibling and co-founder Sanil Joshi is trying to marry paper with art.

“The best way to differentiate in this market is by having new designs,” Karan, co-founder, Odd Giraffe, told D2C Insider in an interaction. But the firm, which clocked ₹4.1 crore revenue in the last financial year, only came into existence due to a need.

The idea stumbles

In 2018, Karan, who was running an ad agency, wanted to give his teammates a useful Diwali present. “I thought we could give them a notebook kind of a thing as I was an avid physical planner user at the time. But all we came across were boring black diaries,” says Karan.

This signaled a consumer base looking to buy planners with good design and quality. The duo then pitched the idea at a pitching session and raised ₹25 lakhs, in angel round, from TiE Angel Network in 2019.

Karan and Sanil sold the first lot of yearly planners until the Jan 2019, and realized the seasonality of the business.

“Yearly planner would sell from November till maximum February. But after that what do we do? We had to figure out how we could put out more products,” says Karan.

The firm started selling notebooks to increase the number of stock keeping units (SKUs). Made with good quality paper and giving consumers a differentiated experience, through faster delivery and packaging, meant more sales coming in.

In FY2020-21, the Odd Giraffe Lifestyle Pvt. Ltd.-run brand earned more than ₹1 crore in revenue.

Graphic by Prasannata Patwa

But the SKU limitations still persisted. The brand was also selling their products completely through Instagram and Odd Giraffe’s website. Hence, more stationary products were needed to keep consumers engaged.

“No one sticks on to a website if you only show them 3-4 products. There needs to be more SKUs. And we didn’t want to keep creating different kind of planners and journals, which if unsold, would pile up in a warehouse,” says Karan.

That’s when the founding duo went deeper into the category and started experimenting with customisation.

Where art meets paper

In a made-to-order model, potential consumers could select a cover design and place an order for a journal or a notebook, with their name on it. These designs have been created in-house and in collaboration with artists.

“The customization model really worked for us,” says Karan. The pandemic also gave the necessary tailwind to the brand as people were introspecting and focusing on mental health. “Journaling was being recommended by many people at the time,” says Karan.

Since the roll out of the made-to-order model, in September 2022, the journal-maker claims to have seen a 200 percent jump in sales. Currently, Odd Giraffe get 2,500-3,000 monthly average orders.

Odd Giraffe’s products

“We call them paper people. Individuals who like the smell of an old book or the ones who still like to send letters or paper-based invitation. These are the people we are chasing,” says Karan.

Now the team of four, wants to take the brand and make it a bit more mainstream by entering online marketplaces, and build their team further.

Odd Giraffe also works with 15-20 commissioned artists, annually, to create new cover designs, which led the brand to have more than 500 SKUs.

Future plans

Odd Giraffe’s products range between ₹800 and ₹1,500 falling in the premium category. About 80 percent of the brand’s customer base consists of women between 25-40 years.

Now, Odd Giraffe wants to get men into their consumer base. In the next six-eight months, the brand is targeting to have close to 30 percent male buyers by entering an executive line of premium stationery.

The firm is also creating made-to-order notebooks for office goers, planners, with travel and pregnancy themed journals. Adding new categories will help Odd Giraffe in increasing SKUs and selling through digital marketplaces.

“We are also creating a separate wedding vertical, where we would cover everything from creating wedding invitations to a couple’s look book,” says Karan.

The stationery and hobby market’s revenue were expected to reach $2,968 million, in 2023, according to research firm Statista. The market revenue is also expected to grow at an annual growth rate of 17.12 percent reaching $5,584 million by 2027.

While journaling is yet to become mainstream in India, and Odd Giraffe also faces competition from the likes of Navneet and Sundaram in the mass segment. But there are not many Indian stationary-focused start-ups currently in the market.

Odd Giraffe does have a lot of scaling potential with rise in journaling habit and existing “paper people”.

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