For the young founder of Zillionaire, Raghav Goyal this is just the beginning. From a brand that began as a lockdown project by two 16-year-olds, Raghav Goyal and Aaditya Fatehpuriya; to a fashion statement dictating the cool quotient in Gen Z jewellery, Lifestyle Asia catches up with the entrepreneur to decode the rise and rise of Zillionaire and its growing international presence.
Zillionaire burst into the Indian fashion scene with their chunky iced-out designs, aimed at showcasing a lifestyle of luxury flexing. The Hip Hop movement of the 1990s saw an increasing number of rappers and artists adding chunky iced-out jewellery to their streetwear fashion aesthetic. These pieces were often custom-made and were used as a form of expression or rather as a ‘flex’ by the rappers. The expensive bling and expressive designs represented an artist’s self which is what Zillionaire presented to the Indian audience. “I’m buying a Cuban chain and a Cuban chain is heavy. It’s flashy and it’s expensive. So iced-out jewellery is for people who are bold, who want to stand out, be the centre of attention, and also to show that, yes, I have succeeded in my life. I’ve come out from adversity, you know, I’ve done something cool,” says Raghav Goyal as we talk about how Zillionaire brings together Hip Hop culture and jewellery as a form of expression in today’s market.
Banking on the pandemic’s boredom plague as a marketing strategy the brand saw exponential growth in the next three years, establishing their bling in India’s fashion game with their stint on Shark Tank India that garnered a whooping ₹1 crore investment as well. From Indian hip-hop artists like King and MC Stan repping their jewellery to international sensation’s like Ckay, Zillionaire’s next stepping stone is to spread their iced-out fashion movement to the global markets as well as a possible foray into clothing. Raghav Goyal tells us exactly what’s going on with the brand going global, their ideology, what to expect and a pinch of insight.
Raghav Goyal on jewellery label Zillionaire’s growth and going global
What motivated you to create Zillionaire? How was the brand born? How did you turn an idea into reality?
So, when we were 16 years old in the first COVID lockdown, you know, we had nothing to do. Like we were school-going kids and it was lockdown. So Aditya and I were inspired by the hip hop music industry, you know, these flashy chains, rappers wear like Future, Lil Baby, Gunna. We were fascinated by the lifestyle, the clothing, and the jewellery. So I wanted to get something similar for myself, but upon doing some market research, I couldn’t find anything like it. The little that was available was either very expensive or had poor-quality craftsmanship.
I couldn’t find a brand I’d like to wear. So, we decided to make some pieces at a manufacturing unit belonging to Aditya’s family. We made some designs and we took pictures from my iPhone and we just uploaded it on our Instagram. And we like, you know, we also realized that in India, jewellery is usually traditional, treated as something traditional. It’s associated mainly with women and people think funky about clothes and shoes, sneaker culture, and clothing culture, but with jewellery, everything I saw was like really plain and boring.
Did you imagine Zillionaire would reach such heights as a new global brand when you initially created the brand? Was this the envisioned goal all along?
So when I started Zillionaire, we started this very casually. Like, I think during the first few months, like first few weeks, we were just trying to have fun, you know? And like An interesting story is that earlier it was called drip drop. We just made the logo on Snapchat. I made the logo on Snapchat, took a screenshot and just made it our Instagram DP. We had no website, no, like just the two of us, We made the jewellery at the factory and just uploaded it on the Instagram page and took orders through DM.
But you know, like I always thought that, this is the Gen Z culture, this is gonna grow, this is the new India. All the jewellery brands we see in India and even outside the world are quite boring. So slowly, like after the first year, I knew that if we did this properly, this could become a global brand because our designs were very unique. Our marketing is unique. Like no one is marketing the jewellery the way we are doing. And you know, like it all just came together and definitely, I thought, like if I take this full time, then this is a global brand and I give my all in for it.
You both are very young, almost the same age as me. How does it feel to achieve so much, at so young? Does it get overwhelming heading to something so big?
I don’t think it gets overwhelming. We think we’re quite small right now. There’s a long way to go. Like Zillionaire, even though it appeared on Shark Tank and it’s famous, we still think it’s a small brand. Like, you know, we’ve just taken the step one. We have come out there, but right now our journey has started. So, I don’t think it gets to our head or it’s like a very super-duper feeling. It’s quite normal. We work normally and live normally. And I think it’s just the beginning.
What part do you think the lockdown has to play in Zillionaire’s success, seeing that that was when the brand came into action?
I think firstly the lockdown gave us a lot of free time. There was no school and fortunately even my exams, my IB main exams got cancelled. I got really lucky there. So, I had nothing to do. of course, I was free throughout the day.
Plus, I think social media and Instagram marketing, reels, even trending reels came like, you know, a lot of brands which had already existed, prospered during COVID times. And I noticed that like a lot of digital cultures coming up, trending music, first Instagram just had static pictures during lockdown, and the reels came up.
And you know, I was aware that I knew that the brands that already exist be it clothing, FNB, anything are going to do well through digital marketing. Like whatever brands are online and people are also bored. Like our customers are bored. They want to stimulate their mind. So, they will buy something. I think the COVID helped us that way.
How does Zillionaire bring Hip Hop culture and jewellery together? How has the Gen Z crowd and the world as a whole received what the brand has to offer?
Zillionaire has started, you know, this is, we started with hip hop jewellery, iced out jewellery. So hip hop and iced-out jewellery come together in multiple ways, like, it’s a symbol of success. It’s a symbol of flexing, like, I’ve made it.
I’m buying a Cuban chain and a Cuban chain is really heavy. It’s flashy and it’s expensive. So iced-out jewellery is for people who are bold, who want to stand out, be the centre of attention, and also to show that, yes, I have succeeded in my life. I’ve come out from adversity, you know, I’ve done something cool. And it’s a measure of expression because if you see pendants and so many other products, there are multiple symbols of things we see around the world, a star, emojis, flash, religious symbols, trishul, om, marijuana, a dumbbell, a champagne bottle, butterfly.
So like people are expressing themselves, they’re feeling their identity through jewellery. So this is how I think the culture and jewellery come together. We’ve also launched a new collection called the Punkzster. It’s made in recycled metal alloy and it’s a really good collection, I feel personally. Like the themes are Victorian goth and modern punk, like ACDC or Ozzy Osborne, like very gothic clothing.
How do you think Shark Tank and Anupam Mittal’s ₹1 crore investment worked for Zillionaire? How much has that experience helped the brand reach greater heights?
Shark Tank gave us massive publicity. I think a lot of people watched the show and got to know about our story and our brand. And Anupam Mittal has of course, like you know, whenever we are facing technical issues regarding shipping, website, or integrations, he helps us in that case.
And of course, with funds, we launched the Punkzster Collection. We did an insane shoot of the Punkzster Collection with the funds we got, it’s a unisex collection. So, I think the funds were really helpful because we did a shoot in Bombay and it was really expensive. Like we couldn’t do that shoot out of our profit. So it’s a world-class shoot, an international shoot, insane styling, insane curation. So the funds helped us that way. Anupam Mittal helped us in technical problems and Shark Tank gave us publicity.
On Shark Tank, Raghav you said that you plan on making Zillionaire a lifestyle brand, catering to more than just jewellery; any updates on that front? Any new plans in the execution?
So, when I talk about a lifestyle brand, Zillionaire has already started doing whatever it can concerning jewellery. So, we’ve started making sculptures. If you see there’s an iced-out Jordan video on our Instagram with like 5 million views. It’s a life-size iced-out Jordan shoe, like a sculpture. And it’s like really heavy like a 4kg sculpture, which we made for a club in Jaipur. And we’ve made other sculptures as well, iced out basketball, headphones, a champagne bottle for that club. And we’ve made like two or three other pieces for home decor for customers. And we are thinking of doing leather belts like iced-out logos on belts and clothing soon. Right now our focus is to scale jewellery further with various collections. Like I already spoke about punk stuff. We’re thinking of doing another collection in the summer. We are experimenting with clothing sculptures and home decor. If anyone wants to give an order, we are also doing custom pieces.
And when I say lifestyle brand, it also means that if you see our marketing, we’re showing the vibe, the lifestyle of a person who we expect to buy from us. We’re not showing a clear picture of the product like other jewellery brands too. We’re showing a lifestyle, a cool guy, a cool girl wearing cool clothes, wearing our jewellery, walking inside a club as you know with lights, attitude. So that’s where the lifestyle and the culture part come in.
What’s the next stepping stone for Zillionaire? How does the future look?
So, the next stepping stone for Zillionaire is to scale our sales further. I think we need to scale our sales further with various collections. Punkzster is a big part of that mission and we want to launch clothing also. We want to experiment with clothing.
But more than that, we aim to globalize to have a certain sale from the global website. So I forgot to mention we’ve launched a new website, www.zillionaire.global That’s for the entire globe except India. We’ve received orders from Dubai, Japan, Australia, US. Not a lot. We’re not marketing heavily because it’s expensive marketing outside India. But the next stepping stone is that we have at least $20,000 -25,000 worth of sales coming from the states or coming from the global website.
So, globalizing and scaling up sales. Right now, I just want to scale up sales further. And I think I also want to open a store in Delhi or Bombay. I think that’ll be a very big stepping stone for Zillionaire. Opening a store. That’s my dream to open just one store and then open a few more. But that first store is like I want to do that soon.
How have you grown as a businessman and as an individual through this process, considering the huge change you went through in your formative years and already having a business background? How is the you now, different from the you then?
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from business is that stress less, You know, for me a failure is an outcome that is unexpected and I face multiple small failures every day. Like a parcel reach reaches a customer two hours late. There’s some slight issue with jewellery, the website is down. You know, like small, small failures, small, small unexpected things happen every day.
I’ve learned to take things neutrally. I think I see things neutrally now. I don’t see good or bad. Stress less about these small, small things, Life’s big, there are 8 billion people on this earth, and so many people stress about their businesses or small, small things, it’s not worth it. And I’ve learned how to take, in these, take these failures well, just be happy. I’ve started appreciating the small pleasures, the simple things in life. I started spending less on myself, first I used to wear branded clothes and all, but now I wear the same clothes every day.
Now I don’t care what people think of me or how they perceive me, I just want to chill. I don’t socialize much apart from business, I don’t want to. I’m happier because I think I have a goal in life, and I think one should always have a goal in life, and it can be anything, like a creative goal or, a fitness goal, it gives you a purpose, I have more meaning, and I started enjoying things.
Hero and Feature image: Courtesy Zillionaire