We’ve always wanted to do something different.
Something that was fun, something that we loved. Well Hello Chumbak :)
It’s honestly quite a simple story :) We loved to travel all over and that’s what brought us together. Each time we travelled, we would shop for souvenirs, especially fridge magnets. Being on really small budgets, fridge magnets made amazing and affordable gifts to friends and family back home. For some strange reason, we could never find fun fridge magnets right here in India. So in 2004, we started doing some initial research and life just took over and we weren’t able to get anywhere. Finally in 2009, we got our act together and spent a good six months on researching ( seriously this time around) various products. We narrowed down to a bunch of fun things that we’d have loved to buy and use :)
While thinking of a brand name, we thought we should name it after the first initial idea. Vivek asked Shubhra what magnet meant in Hindi and she said ‘Chumbak’ ! We fell in love with the name immediately and within an hour had registered the domain name. Facebook didn’t have pages those days and we were on our way !
Chumbak actually has an interesting etymology :)
When we dug deeper, we found out that Chumbak is broken into 2 words: Chumma and Bak ! We all know what Chumma Means. Bak means Stones. So Kissing + Stones = Magnets. How epic is that?
“Now or Never”
Towards the end of 2009, we finally had all the samples and they looked lovely! We showed them around to friends and family and were really encouraged by their support and response :)
Now the time had come to place the orders with the various manufacturers. With not much money in the bank we had to figure out where to raise money from. It was late 2009, we figured it had actually become a ‘Now or Never’ thing. The only asset we had was an apartment which we had bought a few years ago. It took us all of 15 mins to decide to sell it. We felt it was only money and we’d get it back in a couple of years time. It took us 6 months :)
With products in manufacturing, we had reached a point of no return. We didn’t have a single order in hand and no one had a clue what Chumbak was :) Finally in March 2010, Chumbak was launched with just 3 stores selling our stuff. The rest of the story we’ll save for another day :) To cut things short, here we are. All grown up. Still making mistakes, still learning fast and still loving what we do. We’re a bit funny, a bit silly and fully Mad about India.
We love design. It’s what we do. Sometimes we look back and wonder, “What the hell were we thinking..” but most of the time we’re really proud of what we do. We’re always thinking of more silly stuff to do, better briefs to come up with and a million topics and trends passing through our heads :) Our inspiration comes from just looking all around us. India is full of amazing sights, sounds and smells :) We look at the most random things and come up with what we do. We keep tweaking our designs till we’re happy. A single product typically goes through many many iterations. For something to become a Chumbak product, we typically cover the Chumbak logo and have it go through the design test. 9/10 people should recognize it as a Chumbak product without seeing the logo. We then know that we’re consistent :)
We design and make products that we love to use ourselves. Sometimes we make random stuff, but that’s us trying stuff out :) We’re always experimenting with both design and product. Honestly, for every 10 new categories we come up with, we release only 3 or 4 of them. The rest get put into cold storage and we revisit them from time to time :) Today we have over 30 categories of products including fridge magnets, keychains, bobble heads, tshirts and boxer shorts, coffee mugs, phone cases, laptop sleeves and a whole bunch more ! And to think, there a lot more from where that came from !
We started out working in at home. Like most startups, we worked and lived in the same place, enjoying the fun of working in boxer shorts. We’d have work meetings at home and have meetings where suddenly you’d be taking to a partner about something really important and our then 2 year old would come and sit on your lap and starting singing rhymes :) We graduated from our home to an aunts place to a duplex apartment and within a year finally to a warehouse. It was 1000sqft and housed all of us ( 7 people ) and then we outgrew that and asked the landlord to build 2 floors above us. This was home till 4 months ago :) Today we work out of The Chumbak Studio :) Our home :) It’s an integrated office and warehouse. It took us 5 months to build and we’re quite thrilled with the huge space that we have :)
If you’re passing this side of town, do drop in. We’d love to say Hello !
We’re a really small team. Young, mad, silly and extremely talented bunch of people :) We honestly hire the very best. We always meet people and get to know them before even looking at what kind of role they’d like at Chumbak. We do so much masti, but at the same time we work our butts off. We laugh a lot at each others random jokes, make fun of people who eat noodles everyday for lunch and sing out really loud on birthdays :) We’re based out of namma Bengaluru with teams in Bombay and Delhi as well.