The Undeniable Charm of Cats
Aloof, graceful, calm and independent - it’s no surprise that cats were once worshipped as gods. While we may not bow down before them today, they nonetheless seem to still have us in their thrall. Cat videos routinely getting millions of views are proof that resistance is futile against cute kitties!
World over, cat lovers are known to be vocal about their love for all things cats, even at the risk of being called crazy cat lady/man! And that’s catching on in India as well, although our country is thought to be mostly a dog-loving one.
The Curious Cat Company: Calling All Cat Lovers!
Cat lovers or ailurophiles often show their love for their favourite animal by making it a part of their identity, whether it’s by toting a cat-themed laptop bag or wearing a tee with a kitten on it. As more and Indians embrace the trend of flaunting various facets of their personalities, quirky accessories and themed apparel is catching on.
The Curious Cat Company is a boutique online store that has tapped into this trend.
This new start-up offers a bevvy of charming cat-themed home décor, apparel and accessories. All its products feature adorable cats in all their cuteness. You will find here hoodies, pop grips, notebooks, home decor and so much more, all featuring cats, and some with original artworks by artists.
Delightful, endearing and cute, these products are sure to steal your heart – you can keep them for yourself or perhaps gift it to another cat lover? What's more, you would be doing some good as well. The site contributes a portion of each sale to cat rescue and rehabilitation causes.
The Curious Cat Company's collection charmed us so much that we had to talk more to its founder, Vinda Dravid to know all about her lovely store and its story.
I want to make this a brand, a way for people to flaunt their love for cats.
Vinda Dravid, Founder, The Curious Cat Compay
Q & A with Vinda Dravid: Getting to Know the Story Behind the Site
- Q. Do you remember the moment that led up to the creation of The Curious Cat Co.?
- I started this company on July 1, 2020. The idea for it came while I was travelling in February. I had recently gotten married and we were on our honeymoon in Europe. I saw someone carrying a very nice grocery bag with a cat’s picture on it. Cat cafes are popular in Europe and I found myself wondering why we don’t have them back home. I had been wanting to start something on my own. I love drawing and doodling and there was so much time during the lockdown that I started drawing cats. Some of these turned out really nice. There was still time to spare so I started making a website. I then spoke to vendors to see if such a venture could be commercially viable. I started posting on Instagram and got a great response. So it was a series of things and all that free time at home that led to this; the lockdown was very productive for me!
- Q. Are you a cat crazy person yourself?
- Absolutely! We had a Persian cat back at my parents’ place and after marriage I have converted my husband also into a cat person. We have three cats at the workplace whom we have adopted. We also take care of and feed 5 other cats in the neighbourhood.
- Q. What has the response from customers been so far?
- The first response is, wow, we always wanted something like this. The second are requests for faster deliveries. We are faster with deliveries now but we are a small company and cannot compete with the hyper funded companies. We work on demand and many products are printed after orders are placed. It is a small business with two other people working and there is a lot of hard work and behind the scene hustle.
- Q. How long do deliveries take on average?
- We have some items in our inventory, such as limited edition pieces, jewellery. Other things, like clothes that are size based, are impossible for us to stock inventory. These get printed when an order is placed and take 7 to 10 days to be shipped, a total of 12 days for it to reach the customer.
- Q. What is your process?
- We are very active on Instagram and so are many artists, that’s where we often connect. We also have a program where artists can fill up a form and share their work with us. But at the start I made a lot of the artwork, I was also reaching out to artists individually. I follow a lot of artists and would approach people, asking if they would be interested in collaborating with us. Many of them collaborated with us even though we were not selling much at the time. For instance, in September we had about a hundred orders. Artists are often very supportive of new artists. For ceramics we buy the products upfront and then list them on our website. Other artwork we adapt to different products and give the artist a share of the sales. We give credit to the artist for all the artwork on our products.
- Q. How do you ensure quality?
- We haven’t yet reached a stage where we cannot gauge quality. We have 20 to 25 pieces of each product that we buy upfront, so the scale is small and quality easily assessed. We also work with artists who are really good at what they do. But for some products comfort and size are subjective, the face masks for instance. We were selling a lot of face masks but they weren’t always a good fit for our customers. Our deliveries are slower than average and to make matters worse, our shipments were delayed due to the lockdown and people would be more frustrated if they didn’t get the right size after waiting so long for it. So if we are okay if someone is unhappy and returns the product; we would rather refund them so they are happy rather than bad mouth us.
- Q. What is your biggest challenge?
- The fact that this is really niche, thus making it expensive to get the word out. Cats aren’t the popular pet in India the way dogs are. Many manufacturers have shut down during the lockdown, making it difficult to source products at reasonable prices. Some products such as fashion accessories which were exclusively sourced from China earlier are no longer available and we are unable to find local manufacturers who can make the same thing.
To top that the expectations set by hyper funded e-commerce stores who offer heavy discounts on mass produced items and quick deliveries make things extremely tough for us. These are artsy products produced in small quantities and yet people still expect discounts.
Product/Service Showcase : The Curious Cat Company
Cat Face Masks
With the pandemic making face masks a part of your regular outfit, it makes sense to start sporting cute designs rather than sticking to boring white or neutral colours. The Curious Cat Company offers a selection of cheery masks themed around cats. All masks come with three layers and have adjustable elastic straps. The innermost layer is soft cotton material while the outer one is spun polyester. There is space left for a pocket where you can insert additional filters if you feel the need. All masks are available in three sizes, and each mask is priced at Rs. 215.
Hoodies and Sweatshirts
Show off your love of cats with these wonderful hoodies and sweatshirts that come with a range of appealing cat patterns and tongue-in-cheek messages. Check out this one that's made of high-quality cotton with 10 per cent melange mix. These are unisex and come in three basic colours - grey, green, blue and black. Available on site for Rs. 1,199.
Stand out with cat-themed jewellery! A wonderful example is this pair of Miniature Cate Studs that will sit prettily on your ears. Made of stainless steel and with gold or silver plating, these winsome studs are sure to turn head. Get theses on the site for Rs. 249.
Where Can You Find Them?https://curiouscatcompany.com/"
Know More About Vinda and Her Journey
- Q. Tell us about your background.
- I studied and graduated as a civil engineer and worked as a structural consultant for 2-3 years. Art was a hobby, not something I ever pursued. After that I was to do my masters and I even had a confirmed seat at Columbia Engineering but I couldn’t see myself doing all my life that so there was no point in wasting so much money.
I wanted to do something creative and fun and I wanted to start my own business but to do that I needed experience and thus I joined a startup called Saffron Stays. I worked there for about 3 years. They were into holiday homes and I was their second employee. I got a lot of valuable experience from there. After that I explored vertical farming and it's application in improving productivity for marginal farmers. I spent over a year researching and speaking with farmers to assess whether it was commercially viable as a business model. However, upon conducting experiments, I realized that it wasn’t entirely viable currently. Soon after, I got married and then the lockdown happened.
- Q. What are some of your other interests?
- I love reading and used to be a voracious reader but now any free time is spent on improving the website or the brand. I love adventure sports and would make at least one annual hiking trip to the Himalayas; I am a licensed paraglider and would go paragliding almost every weekend. I also love cooking & enjoy food immensely. But now, everything including even drawing has taken backstage and I am always working on this!
Future Plans for The Curious Cat Company?
- Q. What do you hope to achieve, and how?
- I want to make this an artsy brand, a way for people to flaunt their love for cats. Cats are different from dogs, not as openly affectionate, being around them changes your expectations from different animals and helps you respect the concept of individuality. Eventually, we want to expand to include other animals to spread love and awareness. Currently we have pledged to cat welfare organisations, perhaps we will also pledge to other animal welfare organisations. I also want to have my own chain of cat cafes like the ones in Europe, maybe across multiple cities. We'll get there one step at a time, building our product base gradually and focussing on design and unique offerings.
- Q. What are the upcoming products that you're most excited about
- A comic series based on all the cats around us in Curious Cat's office
- Cat essentials such as food, litter, sustainable litter trays & other products
- Cat themed handmade jewellery in collaboration with an artist
Any Recommendations for Us?
- Q. Your personal favourite products or series.
- I use the 9 lives mug. I love our sweatshirts, they are of really good quality. I also use the lego cat tote bag and whisker face mask.
- Q. What would you recommend to customers?
- Go for the face masks for sure! It really depends on the personality and what they like. We have a newly launched bookish cats jigsaw puzzle, and coasters that make for great gifts.