In tête-à-tête with Apurva Hiten Turakhia and Divya Apurva Turakhia on their family business, TURAKHIA OPTICIANS
Turakhia is synonymous with eyewear in the optical industry. Backed by decades of profound optical know-how, Turakhia has now over eight de cades recorded a loyal customer base. The passion to deliver exceptional products and service to their patients and clients is a part of their DNA. Apurva Turakhia and his wife Divya, are the fourth generation to carry forward the legacy of the family-owned business.
How did the business and brand start and expand to where it stands today?
Apurva: The business was established in Chennai by my great grandfather Himmatlal M. Turakhia, who then brought in his brother Jagjivandas in the business. Later, Himmatlal shifted base to Bombay and the younger brother took over the operations in Chennai and expanded further into retail operations and the later generations made it what it is today.
H.M. Turakhia’s elder son, my grandfather, Manharlal H. Turakhia, being enterprising and dynamic in nature, ventured into Goa in 1961 and set up a manufacturing base for spectacle frames, after successfully setting up manufacturing units in Mumbai and Gujarat, as well.
The factory was based in Kakora Industrial estate and named as M/s. Vita Industries which was the first small scale industry registered with GCCI, post liberation. Later, my father, Hiten M. Turakhia, who completed his industrial training from Germany, took over the manufacturing reins in the early 1980s. We would export frames to the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region and Russia. We used to manufacture eyewear according to European and Hong Kong standards; which were and are even today considered the benchmark for manufacturing eyewear in terms of great quality.
We were into manufacturing frames full time and then in 1994 my father, ventured into retail and opened our first store in Margao. The factory was shut down in 2004, due to the influx of low cost, high volume Chinese goods and increase in import duties.
The retail showroom was the first of its kind optical store which was designed, keeping the comfort of the customer in mind. We were able to provide exclusive frames at competitive prices, due to which we received an excellent response to products. This in turn made us venture and start the second store in Margao at Osia Mall in 2009, exhibiting designer labels from across the world and providing professional optometry and eyecare related services, as operations were handled by me.
I had entered the business in 2008 after completing my Bachelors in Clinical Optometry from Bharati Vidyapeeth School of Optometry, Pune followed by internship from the world renowned L. V. Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad.
What made the company venture and expand operations in Panjim?
Divya: We felt what we offer in Margao has helped build our reputation over the years and we had many clients coming in from Panjim. We make sure to deliver the best of service when it comes to lenses and prescriptions, given that Apurva and I are qualified optometrists. Plus, our loyal customer base in Panjim had been asking us as to when we would open up a store in the city, so it was about time we took that leap.
Apurva: All our three outlets in Goa, are stocked with frames starting from `500 to `90,000. We believe in providing eyecare and eyewear to the people who need them the most, to provide good vision to all.
We have nine stores in Mumbai, three stores in Goa and six stores in Chennai. It is a huge family tree managed by different generations of uncles and cousins and we go by the same name.
Turakhia was the first to bring Essilor lenses into India. In Chennai, my uncle had a surfacing lab, where they prepare the lenses. The lab was then sold to Essilor for strategic partnership.
As far as marketing strategies are concerned, Turakhia primarily goes by word of mouth. Turakhia is a brand in itself, because we handle every piece of eyewear, whether it is an entry level spectacle frame or an expensive one, with equal passion and finesse. It is just not about selling glasses, but providing the right recommendation depending on every individual’s prescription, visual needs, lifestyle and hobbies. Everyone has a different set of demands for their visual needs. If you were to go to Margao we are the number one choice amongst most of the doctors, for dispensing prescription glasses.
Divya: If people are under-privileged, be it health wise or for monetary reasons and they need a test done at home, we facilitate that. We do home visits on a prior appointment basis and we deliver everything at home right on the doorstep of the customer.”
Apurva: Being optometrists, it is about the art of dispensing and not only about sales of the eyewear. “We deal in eye wear, sunglasses, and contact lenses, along with having eye exercises for children having a squint or lazy eye.
We also provide low vision devices where in you need magnifiers or telescopes. I would say it is a full umbrella where a host of services are provided. We also have contact lenses for pathological or clinical conditions, where regular lenses do not work. We provide prosthetic contact lenses wherein scarring is cosmetically or aesthetically visible, can be covered.”
What were the difficulties faced in business due to covid-19?
Divya: One was the delay of almost eight months in opening the new outlet at Panjim.
Apurva: As far as our Margao stores go, we had decent footfall as being allied health professionals, people did need to get eyewear and eye test and other related services, spectacles being an essential item; especially with the WFH culture setting in.
What are your future plans?
Apurva: We try to consolidate our resources in one place, have our resources and processes set up fully and carry on from there. Our staff is trained well by us and we like to give personal attention to our customers. The personal rapport that both of us and our staff share with each of our clients and patients is what makes this special.
Divya: This profession needs our attention and expertise. We can guide our patients on how to go about things related to what is best for them – whether it is frames, lenses or any other queries which they may have.
The store has some of the best brands when it comes to sunglasses like Ray-Ban, Oakley, Hugo Boss, Emporio Armani, Maui Jim, Gucci, Mont Blanc, and high end brands like Cartier, Maybach, Moscot, Bolon, Jimmy Choo, Balenciaga, can be made available if a customer wants them. Right now, we are testing the demands and needs of their walk-ins and planning to bring in further brands and add more services accordingly.
What sets you apart from your competitors and what is the USP of your brand?
Apurva: It is not easy to be in industry and carry on for eight decades and over four generations in a family-owned business. We have been able to do so purely because we have evolved with times and made sure to maintain the ethos and ethics of our company instilled in us since the business was started by our forefathers.
The mantra is – the final choice rests with the customer. We do not believe in pushy sales talk and do not force our customers into buying something that they won’t be happy with. And also, we see to it that the same percolates down to our colleagues and staff as well on a constant basis.
What atrributes of business and entrepreneurship inspire you?
Divya: One has to be patient. Patience is the key to success in any business. You have to sit and work hard for whatever you want in life. Hard work is something that we have always been proud of doing and I think that what you sow is what you reap. Be a voracious reader; keep up with trends in your industry and outside your industry as well. Expand one’s horizons and mindset for a broader outlook of the market.
Apurva: Along with hard work, perseverance is also very important. Do not give up half way. Have the will power to push on, day in and day out. Get out of bed, show up at work, on time, every time. No one will come and motivate you. Self-motivation is the key. And lastly, just be yourself and conquer