Suman Suresh, Managing Director of Krishnan Nair and Sons (KNS) Jewellers and Watch Dealers

Thiruvananthapuram: One would hardly miss ‘Daddy’s Girl’, the proclamation of affection tattooed on her right forearm near the wrist. For Suman Suresh, the Managing Director of Krishnan Nair and Sons (KNS) at East Fort in Thiruvananthapuram, her entry into the family business is deeply linked to the admiration she has for her father Suresh K Nair, who is no more with her in this world.

During her school days, whenever there was a students’ agitation boycotting classes, Suman’s father used to bring her to their erstwhile jewellery showroom at Pulimoodu in the city. Savouring a cadbury, little Suman would curiously watch what her father was doing there. As she grew up, it became a routine for her to be in the shop on Saturdays. The young girl would be asked to familiarise herself with the stock and learn how to count cash and bundle it up.

“I never felt bored. Actually, my father’s intention then was to show me the work he did and the way the family earned its income. Secondly, he wanted me to understand that money was hard-earned. Since my childhood, my father was my role model,” says Suman, a fifth generation entrepreneur, who is running the business with her mother Brinda Suresh and younger sister Sunanda Suresh.

Suman’s great grandfather, N Krishnan Nair who himself was a watchmaker, launched Krishnan Nair and Sons watch store at Kottayam district way back in 1911. All his seven children were into the family business then. My grandfather, Kunju Krishnan Nair, shifted to Thiruvananthapuram after his marriage and opened Krishnan Nair and Sons jewellery showroom at Pulimoodu in 1956. Later, in 1986, her father started the present shop with jewellery on the ground floor and an international watch showroom and service centre on the first floor.

After completing MBA, Suman got herself involved in the business. “I was asked to look after the watch business segment. My father readily accepted my suggestions to introduce customer feed-back forms and uniform for the employees. But he followed a conservative approach in stock maintenance and investment. I hardly had a say in such things. He did what he believed was right and safest from his experience. Also, he had deliberately kept business and family separate. Even I had to mark my attendance and was not paid whenever I took leave. He used to deduct the money from my salary when I picked an ornament for myself,” remembers Suman, recollecting the stories her father used to tell when they returned home every night after the day’s business.

However, the sudden demise of Suresh in 2013 was a big blow to the family. “We had two choices – to run the business ourselves or to rope in investors and professionals to run it. We opted for the first and decided not to sell anything that our father had created. Both showrooms were renovated. We launched diamond and silver jewellery sections. The logo was redesigned and we started to rebrand the business in a small way,” says Suman, who also did her graduation in Gemology from International Gemological Institute (IGI), Mumbai.

According to Suman, the challenge before her was to satisfy traditional customers and to cater to the needs of the new generation at the same time. “Being a traditional business, we enjoyed the patronage of the older generation. In fact, they trusted only us. However, the younger generation is different. No matter how accommodative we are, they do not develop that kind of a brand loyalty,” she adds.

‘’Five years from now,’’ Suman says, “we will not branch out for sure. My ambition is to bring out something unique in jewellery. When we visit international fairs, we realise that a major shift has happened in jewellery in terms of design, colour of the metal and the like. I would love to launch a showroom like that. As far as watch business is concerned, our role is limited to being a dealer and hence, there is hardly any scope for innovation other than adding more brands. In terms of revenue, income from watch business is more or less steady throughout the year while for jewellery, it varies depending on fluctuations in gold price and festival seasons.”

Being a woman entrepreneur, Suman Suresh strongly believes that today nothing can stop women from achieving what they want in their life. “There should be nothing that stops them from rising to the top. Women are not in bondage anywhere. Success depends purely on one’s attitude and what one wants,” she says.

So, what has changed in jewellery business in the last few decades? “Unhealthy practices have increased. Now competition is very high because of selfishness. Earlier, there was no monopoly. And, of course, for the customers, options are plenty and the purchasing power has also gone up,” says Suman, who has a passion for cars and loves spending time penning stories in her diary.