YEDaily: Sheetal Gupta

Sheetal Gupta is the Owner and Manager of Vancouver’s by-appointment only boutique Maharani Jewels, specializing in bridal jewelry handcrafted by some of the world’s finest craftsmen. What was the inspiration for her career route? Find out in today’s YEDaily…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I own and manage Maharani Jewels, which is a by-appointment only boutique located in Vancouver’s downtown core. We specialize in bridal jewelry, including engagement rings and wedding bands for him and her, diamond solitaires and fancy coloured diamonds, custom jewelry, as well as unique, one-of-a-kind fine jewelry that is handcrafted by the world’s finest craftsmen. What sets us apart is our unique consultative process with our clients in which we educate them on our product using professional gemological equipment, as well as our complete transparency and no-pressure environment. 

Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
I was born into a family of clothing retailers, and from very young age I developed a very astute understanding of business. After graduating from UBC, I had the opportunity to expand the product lines in our family-owned stores by incorporating higher-end product. Being a passionate admirer of jewelry and luxury products from a young age, I decided to incorporate diamonds and semi-precious jewelry. The product did astoundingly well, and I learned that I was a natural at selling these high-ticketed items. To get a better understanding of the jewelry business, I sought a position at Birks Jewelers’ Vancouver flagship store, where I was promoted to the Store Director position within three months of working there. I was extremely successful at taking the store to new heights, and after two years I decided to move to New York to study gemology at the world’s most renowned gemological institution, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).  I was then hired in New York by a renowned diamond manufacturing firm as their Regional Director, and was dealing with diamonds that were individually valued from $50,000 to over $8-million, and was selling to some of the world’s most prestigious jewelry and auction houses. After three years in that role, I decided to study Jewelry Design in GIA’s Carlsbad, California campus. I then moved back to Vancouver and was immediately recruited by Spence Diamonds as the General Manager of their Vancouver flagship store. After only six months, I realized that for me, business wasn’t about making a transaction. Rather, it was about building lasting relationships with clients and providing exceptional customer service, both of which were lacking in my experience at traditional retail stores. This is what became my inspiration to start Maharani Jewels.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of my business is my interaction with my clients. I feel humbled and honoured when an individual chooses to come to me when they want to find an exquisite piece of jewelry to celebrate a special time in their lives. Hearing the stories of how a couple first met, or how wonderful the past 25 years of the marriage were, or how excited they are about the arrival of a first child, is all what makes me love what I do.   I also feel that my own core values are the very same core values of my business, so Maharani Jewels is simply an extension of me. 

Though every challenge to me is another opportunity to grow and learn, I would say that the most difficult part is being able to educate my clients that they get luxury service and product with Maharani Jewels, but at exceptional value. This is a rare concept, because in a city like Vancouver, in order to get luxury product and service, it is expected that one must pay a big ticket price. And distinction is truly what sets Maharani apart.

Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
In 5 years I would like to see Maharani Jewels in a flagship location in downtown Vancouver, with an active and bustling e-commerce website. Furthermore, I would like Maharani Jewels as a household name in Vancouver, and as a brand that represents the ultimate in luxury, uniqueness, quality, and value

What does success look like to you?
Success to me is when my clients tell me that I have exceeded their expectations when it comes to customer service, value, quality, and overall experience.  Success to me is also when my clients return to me for more jewels, and when they refer me to all their friends and family. And above all, success to me is being able to see the impact that my business has made in people’s lives through Maharani’s charitable contributions.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
The most memorable milestone in my career is when I sold a $350,000 diamond to a very dear client.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
My advice to young professionals is to follow your passion and be true to who you are in all that you do.  There are no shortcuts in life, but with hard work and integrity, anything is possible. 

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Giving back to the community that has given me everything and made me who I am today is one of the five founding principles of Maharani Jewels. I find it my personal responsibility to share my success with those that are in need. In just 15 months, Maharani Jewels has donated close to $40,000 of jewels and profits to a number of charities and non-profit organizations around the world, including the Big Sisters, Children’s Hospital, the St. Vincent’s Hospital, and many more. I am fortunate that through my business I am able to contribute in the small way that I can.

What is Notable to you?
Notable to me is a current and trendsetting online publication that recognizes young talent and does so with a purpose. I love that Notable keeps such a healthy balance between it’s social responsibility as well as its philanthropic responsibility, and both of these traits are exactly the pillars on which Maharani Jewels is built on – so I am thrilled to be a part of this!

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone all the way!

How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
The dazzling diamonds I am surrounded with everyday definitely help to keep me vibrant and energetic! However, keeping active is a priority for me, and I practice meditation, yoga, and some form of cardio such as running on a daily basis.