In Talks with Ritika Narang Tickoo, Co-Founder – Either OR

In Talks with Ritika Narang Tickoo, Co-Founder – Either OR

Ritika Narang Tickoo, entrepreneur and co-founder of Either OR concept store in Pune, is an intelligent, head-strong and a creative maverick to say the least! A Delhi girl, Ritika has been residing in Pune for over one and half decade happily churning out products which are pan-national in their appeal and impact. Her store- Either Or is a colourful, cosy, innovative and mesmerising alternative store which is quite a landmark in the city. This one-stop revolutionary kitsch shop is reputed for its clothes, handicrafts, jewellery and home decor which is both mass and niche provided by local and national designers.  Today, Ritika and her husband Rohit Tickoo have two Either Or stores to boast of within the same vicinity, brimming with plenty of stuff which is a staple of the young and not-so-young alike. Kavita Wadhwani gets Ritika Narang Tickoo to throw light on her set-up, journey and tricks of the trade.

What My Dreams Were Made Of..

“As a child one had dreams to savour the adventures and explorations that artists, archaeologists, travellers and storytellers have. Though I have formally studied commerce and have a background in post graduation in marketing and communications one feels that one’s present is a combination of all of those dreams meeting the business of life. As a child, I was always exposed to an environment where there was a willingness to challenge oneself! Thankfully I got opportunities to hold positions of responsibility in school and that along with exposure to business operations encouraged one to be a little less fearless of trying to do one’s own thing.”

This Is When I Started Talking Business..

“Strangely it was not that I chose Either Or , but rather it chose me. Sounds unusual! But my foray into the business was an organic one that arose out of a need to experiment and celebrate Indian sensibilities with a modern yet grounded twist. Western India did not have  much to show for Indian craft and design sixteen years ago and Pune had the greatest vibe ( which was untapped and hidden )…so it just seemed to all fall into place.

My Business Basics Included..

“Either Or has always been about the heart, with the heart and for the heart. The only thing I knew was that it was an outpouring of deep love for all that is India and a sense of celebration. The rest would all be the logistics of living that experience.”

The Challenges & Pressures I Came Across..

“Pune is a price-sensitive environment. Open minded yet unsure of itself, it never aspired to be more than a lovely sweet town, so to excite people to accept unusual fare was a slow process.  But the advantage of it has been the faith of the city in accepting all kinds of ideas without judgment.

Thankfully we have been the first movers of expressing India in its new avatar.  So the delight factor and the unusuality quotient was very high. It is the nature of our business that we appeal to a distinct sensibility, so whoever relates to this found us. Over the years, we have established ourselves as the founders of the experience. The challenge that was of finding acceptance had today made our alternative expression so mainstream that it is all over in every aspect of Indian life…be it movies,  fashion, art , design , food.”

There is pressure as there is a constant expectation to bring in something new. Like a new Friday release and creativity cannot be churned out, but it’s a good thing as it keeps us dancing and not spinning.

These Are The Products We Have Been Stocking..

“We house a huge range of products, from traditional craft to contemporary design in all aspects of lifestyle be in garments, home , accessories, fun products , toys , books, etc for  all age groups and aesthetics. Our focus is to provide handcrafted, sustainable, eco-sensitive, happy Indian stories emerging from diverse possibilities. Be it NGO’s, craft groups, designers, artisans, or even imaginative householders. Our focus is to showcase the handcrafted products, to celebrate the materials which are natural, organic , and as eco-sensitive as they can be. Our focus is to create opportunities for consumers to have an exposure to the beauty of the handmade and heart made.”

We Have A Sales Channel To Grow The Business..

“We are a very intimate space and the quality of experience offered is almost like being in a private tete a tete. Hence, all our sales efforts are personal, we do use Facebook and other social media to engage and dialogue, but the philosophy of Either Or is to celebrate the customer not “sell and berate” the individual. Our inspiration is mother-nature, offer with love not overfeed and hard sell.

Our presence has been marked with a strong loyal customer base who expresses it’s love by seeing us as their family. Unfortunately, that puts a pressure on us to love them back and not strategize.  Our growth has been sustained by a constant and consistent effort to communicate as well as bring newer and renewed recycled experiences. Over the last sixteen years, we have constantly added newer facets to the brand expression which has brought more and more like minded people in.”

Overwhelmed With Our Status Quo..

“Either Or stands as a multifaceted space which exemplifies the joys of India and its love for all that is positive, endearing and happy. We are a single store in Pune. But we always say you go to Agra to see Taj Mahal, you come to Pune to see Either Or.”

And This Is How We Came Up With Our Brand Name..

“Life is not about choosing either and or but the in between and beyond! We have two ends of a spectrum only to see the incompleteness of it. So that it takes us towards completeness. And in the chaos that is India, there is also the possibility of emptiness. We like people to question, wonder, introspect as well as laugh about the madness of it all.”

As A Team, We Work Together..

“We have an effective team that undertakes independent action. But we all like to work together as it enables us to learn more. We can today be in any part of the world as we fulfil all the necessary fodder for making people smile everywhere.”

We Like Being Ethical..

“By being ethical. If you think you can, you will. Honestly speaking by using newspaper bags for the last 16 years, for example, is not to make a style statement, we just wanted to be eco-friendly. You don’t do charity and talk about it!”

We Have Two (Stores) For Joy..

“It’s an interesting experience to offer two distinct flavours in one area …it’s easy for us and an exercise for the clients. At least we keep them a little fit by making them walk to both. Our audiences are very varied. Due to the diversity presented by us, we are special to an eclectic Base who enjoy the alternative and subscribe to options other than the mainstream. We are hugely popular with the Indian diaspora and foreign clientele and our interaction is at par with any international brand.  We are happy to have had the opportunity to engage with a most interesting set of human joys from across the world.”

We Have A ‘Fresh’ Mantra..

“We see ourselves as partners in every single contributor’s success. To celebrate and enjoy the creative, new expression of any one of our lot is adding freshness. And when one’s spirit is organic. One naturally veers towards the sunlight. The nature of the human experience right now is to be constantly bored and say what next. It is the wisdom of the same human experience to also understand that every moment is already fresh, only if we change perspective. Advertising aims at doing that, retailing often tends to manipulate it. We aim to help one rediscover one’s journey over and over, the client comes to us knowing he will walk out happy.”

We Have Future Plans Too..

“To keep the spirit of celebration and exploration. The difference is in the experience and perspective. Somethings have to be tasted and savoured! We are one of them! We are always introducing designers, artists , agencies, but there are so many. We are a collaboration …that is our essence.”

My Advice To Budding Entrepreneurs: “Love who you are and what you do. And keep at it, with faith and patience.”

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