KOLKA: Building Fortunes on Growing Hairlines

    Believe it or not, the human hair extension products market is estimated to be $500 billion and is growing at a fast pace of 20 per cent per annum. Hold your breath. QY Research Ltd has put the figure at an even higher level- $1.400 billion. And then without putting any specific figure, another leading global market research firm- Mintel said, while weaves can range in prices from $20 to $10,000, it is no surprise that weaves alone is a multi-billion dollar lucrative business. Read On ..

    And now here is a Kolkata-based company- Kolka Handicrafts Pvt Ltd, which is gearing up to tap this fast growing market aggressively. And why not? While India is the biggest source of human hair for this industry, China happens to be the largest exporter of multi- branded finished hair extension products to the global market, already capturing a market of nearly $130 billion. In sharp contrast, India’s overall raw hair exports to China and Myanmar is estimated to be only $5 billion.

    We therefore saw huge opportunities in rolling out a premium brand of human hair extensions product originating at the source, that is in India, and then making it available to the consumers across the world at an affordable price, says Sapna Anne Banik, co-founder and CEO, Kolka Handicrafts Pvt Ltd. The company has already appointed two distributors in South Africa, one in Caribbean, three in Nigeria, one in Ghana and one in Canada. Interestingly, of the $500 billion global market, African-origin women consumers contribute nearly $400 billion. That’s not all. Kolka Handicrafts, which has put up its processing units in Pondicherry, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, has also lined up an ambitious plan of emerging as the first and a strong Indian-origin global e-retail brand servicing women’s hair needs worldwide, says Banik, adding that weaves are sold in varying lengths, colours and textures to suit the specifications of the buyer.

    It is pertinent to mention here that hair extensions are a type of cosmetic product that alters the appearance of natural hair by making it appear longer, thicker, layered, or simply a different style. They can be made with two different types of material — human hair and synthetic hair. Human hair extensions are made from real human hair, while synthetic ones are manmade from a variety of synthetic fibers.

    Quite significantly, there are already a number of leading global hair extension brands, which are operating including Great Lengths, Klix Hair Extension, Socap and Cinderella—all of whom are US based. And therefore it’s not going to be easy to penetrate into the market, she admits. But Kolka Handicrafts is betting big on the fact that they are closest to the largest source market for raw human hair and therefore can cash in on the cost advantages.

    There is another important and interesting aspect in Kolka’s business model, which is women empowerment. All products from KOLKA’s stable, therefore comes with a brand tagline of ‘Women empowering Women through Hair’.

    "At KOLKA we take a woman’s self worth very seriously. We understand that our women consumer’s deep quest for self-esteem can be satisfied by empowering her with the ability and freedom to make the right choice. And through her purchase she would also have helped empower the women who intricately and lovingly handcraft every KOLKA product in India. KOLKA stands apart as a powerful concept which aims to combine many narratives -hair, women empowerment, beauty & personal care, nature, conservation, happy living, well-being-all under one awesome umbrella,"says Banik.

    With this in view, KOLKA has also developed and designed an entrepreneurship development programme for women and these women are called ‘KOLKA Angels’ (quite like the Amway model) and there are already close to 40 KOLKA Angels. It has also involved five women self help groups in processing, checking and packing, she says, adding that 1 per cent of its profits goes into projects that are working on conservation of the threatened species of black-necked cranes and their high altitude habitat of Ladakh in the Himalayan region, in India.

    Spelling out their marketing plans, Banik says that the company has already created an e-commerce platform that supports global e-tailing, distributorship, entrepreneurship programme registration, servicing our distribution network faster and effectively, accountability, ease and convenience, worldwide free shipping, premium products at affordable and right price, product awareness with transparency. Going forward, what will create the differentiating factor for KOLKA in the e-commerce playfield, will be its innovative use of technology to give its customers a feel, touch, try and shop experience in hair like never before, for example, apps with hair types, colours to try out, to various hair textures and style options to see yourself with and a quick fulfillment option can change the way women have been looking for hair happiness.

     

    - Debhota Mukherjee (TradeBriefs Bureau)

     


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