How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
Ashwin: We have a big Indian clientele, and we’re one of the few jewelers in our area with an inventory for weddings and religious occasions. But a lot of our clientele has assimilated to the U.S. and also wants different things. We have Indian pieces, fusion pieces, and more contemporary-style pieces. We were the first jewelry store in this area. When we started out, it was us, a grocery store, and a clothing store; that was considered Little India. Now we have four stores: Artesia, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Glendale, Calif.
What’s the best idea you’ve ever come up with for your stores?
Ashwin: The new inventory system. We worked with a company that has a system for wholesale and we convinced them to make it for us for retail. Now we can scan a bar code with an iPhone and a picture of the product comes up. That photo can be sent to a customer or used in a sale. The system also provides us with analytics…and it shows us what styles are performing. The other beautiful thing about it is we can bring up inventory for all of our stores on an iPad and not have to bother a single soul.
What is your single best money-saving initiative?
Sanat: We do a lot of manufacturing contract work. We have our own design team…and rather than buying ready-made jewelry, we work with manufacturers to create our own product. Everything is a one-of-a-kind piece.
What nightmare scenario did you turn around to save the day?
Sanat: I was showing loose diamonds to a customer who was also a good friend of mine. He decided to buy a 2 carat stone, but my employee gave the wrong diamond to the workshop to be set into an engagement ring. Luckily, we have a systematic way of inventorying loose stones every night, and realized right away what happened. My friend was on his way to Las Vegas to propose, and I called him and said, “Look man, I cannot let you propose with that ring.” I paid for his plane ticket back to L.A. and I redid the setting. Then I bought him another ticket back to Vegas for the next morning, and he went and proposed. He was a little ruffled, but two weeks later came back and bought some earrings for his fiancée’s birthday.
What has been your most memorable sale?
Ashwin: Our grandfather, who was a big part of the company, recently passed away—he still liked to be on-site until his last few months. Before he passed away, one of our bridal customers came in with her mother and grandmother, and our grandfather was in the store. We realized that not only did the bride’s mother purchase her wedding ring from our father, but her grandmother bought her ring from our grandfather. All six people were there. It was quite a beautiful moment. All three ladies were crying. Bhindi had become a part of their family’s rituals.
Ashwin and Sanat “Sunny” Bhindi of Bhindi Jewellers
Photographs by Natasha Lee