THE KARNIVAL KULTURE
Sneha Arora and Bhavish Choksi chat with us about Karnival, the Korean wave in India, and why it matters.
Karnival has been a blessing in disguise in this lockdown; we wanted to know the creators behind this whole idea. We were very fortunate to have an exclusive tete-a-tete with the co-founders of Karnival and talk about their love for Korean culture, their dreams, and future plans.
- Pratyusha Dash (Team Karnival)
Q. Can you tell our Karnibelles/beaus – how did your love affair with K begin?
Bhavish: It all began when I first saw the Korean community with Sneha. I was intrigued by how strong the bond is between people and how united the community is! As I started digging more into it I realized that it had a lot more to offer and that’s how I sincerely fell in love with the entire Hallyu wave.
Sneha: For me, my journey started back in the days when, I used to sit on YouTube for hours at end, exploring whole different avenues into the beauty world to broaden my horizons and it is when I discovered K-beauty, which was a fairly new concept to Indians back then. In my 10th grade, I watched my first Korean Drama Boys over Flowers, and voila! The “Lee Min Ho Magic”. I then started branching out for whole other opportunities in this field and found a lot of different genres; yet to be explored here in India such as K-pop, K-Culture, and even their language. Girls Generation was my first ever K-pop Group and I fell in love with their song GEE and eventually, I discovered third-gen boy groups such as BTS, EXO. The culture attracted me the most (pop culture being the center of it) and I started digging deep into it. Slowly and steadily my love for this wholesome community blossomed and Karnival was born. We started with a conceptual idea of being a Korean beauty subscription service now turned into a whole new platform, which by harnessing the power of the community intends to marry content and commerce providing everything that Korean culture holistically has to offer. I was lucky to have a reliable partner like Bhavish to help me and eventually the team grew into its current strength and we are happy to have everyone on-board.
Q. What does Karnival as an entity stand for?
Sneha: Karnival, as an entity I believe stands for celebration. It is an embracement platform where we take pride in what we do. It’s all about community, togetherness, and the connection we have with each other. It’s all about care and culture.
Bhavish: For me, I would like to abide by our tagline “Your only destination for everything South Korean”. We want to provide you with everything that you want to know about K and we even go with our hashtag “EmbraceYourK” which I think pretty much sums it up.
Sneha: I agree with you, we here at Karnival don’t believe in boundaries and always believe in exploring and expanding.
Q. Karnival intends to marry content with commerce. Can you tell us about Karnival's unique offering - Shop Karnival?
Bhavish: Karnival has two initiatives to offer, that is Love Karnival and Shop Karnival. As we always say, we intend to marry content to commerce, Content represented by Love Karnival and Commerce by Shop Karnival. We intend to provide people with the art of K which they can keep with them forever through our commerce initiative. We are offering all our community, cute and likable designer merchandise that immortalizes your love for K.
Sneha: Absolutely, before Karnival even happened we have always believed in two very roots of our foundation- first being, always try to add value in people’s lives and second is to either solve a problem that people are facing or delight them with a surprise. I have noticed that the problem people face while buying Korean merchandise was that the prices were very high and the marketing and distribution channels in our country were limited. We wanted to be the first-ever platform to launch designer merchandise “Inspired by K” and as Bhavish mentioned we wanted it to be super affordable so that you can take a bit of K wherever you go without burning a hole in your pockets and not compromising on the quality. We believe in co-creating products with inputs from the team and the community instead of working in isolation.
Q. What was the big, driving factor that prompted you to start this initiative?
Sneha: I always had a passion for this particular community. Today I read a quote from Jeff Bezos that goes “One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. You don't choose your passion; your passion chooses you.” and that pretty much sums up the process. I never thought that we will be able to conceive this plan, of launching Karnival amidst this coronavirus situation but instead of waiting we decided to act upon this opportunity and worked on it. We are trying to challenge the system from the outside, who look down upon us and our community as a whole, and trying to influence more and more people into it to create an impact and bring a change.
Bhavish: Great! For me, I realized that more than a million people were working within this community who in one way or the other were associated with K and for us, this was a gold mine untapped into. We wanted to provide the people with a community to interact and communicate with each other for this wave of Hallyu to grow and expand its roots. We provided them with Love Karnival where we gifted them the knowledge they wanted through our content and Shop Karnival where we provided them with a little bit of K to keep with them forever.
Q. How does Shop Karnival intend to be different from its competitor platforms?
Bhavish: For me, I believe that we are the first designer based platform where the merchandise designs that we use are curated by our own in-house graphic designing team and is not taken from the Internet. We believe in delivering originality and that is what makes us different.
Sneha: We don’t believe we have direct competition in the market because; what we offer is unique. I just want to highlight that whatever we are creating is the combination of different elements where we take inputs from not only us but our community, our team, and our fandom as well. I believe that our approach is way too different than others, our initiative, the type of content that we curate, all of this combined shapes us and our family here at Karnival as a whole, giving us a distinctive aspect.
Q. We have noticed a lot of stationery-based items (notebooks, diaries, and planners) any specific reason for that?
Bhavish: One of the main reasons for that was our research, through a survey conducted for 500 participants as our sample size; we discovered that the K-community was inclined towards stationery, they wanted things on which they can write, to store ideas, keep tracks, etc. and that motivated us to launch the products that we have now.
Sneha: Just adding on to that, we noticed that there were a lot of generic shops selling apparels, we as a platform wanted to do something diverse. We wanted to become the backbone of a community that was into Fan-arts, or journaling. In-fact we are the first ones in the country to launch a “K-drama tracker/planner mystical notepad” which can be used to keep a track of your K-drama journey. We as founders wanted to be unique in our approach and wanted to bring a sense of comfort along with a sense of relativeness for our target audience that is students. As we have experience in that field we knew we can use this strength and divert it towards the greater untapped part of our society and to create an impact on people’s lives.
Q. The designs are very creative and unique, what was the thought behind it?
Sneha: We as a team believe in adding value to people’s lives through our creations. Hence for designs, we keep every pointer in mind that we discuss through many brainstorming sessions and use them to create aesthetically pleasing, creative beautiful designs so that our audience is satisfied with it. I work extensively in tandem with our in-house graphic design team to provide the finest quality material to the community which leaves our customers smiling.
Bhavish: The designs are designed, keeping in mind the thought process of our buyers by putting myself in their shoes. If I as a buyer am spending money on something then do I find that product catering to my needs? Questions like that are always kept in mind while creating our designs and products to provide satisfaction to our consumers.
Q. In a young country like ours, with an ever-growing love for Korean culture amongst the youth. What are your plans for Shop Karnival?
Bhavish: For us, the sky is the limit. We plan to hold a lot more initiatives such as Flagship events where we will have the opportunity to interact with you guys more. We will be hosting various events and we are planning on expanding our merchandise to apparels, shoes, bags, etc. you just name it we will have it! We want that when you think of Korea you think of Karnival that’s our future.
Sneha: We are very dynamic and are very flexible towards change here at Karnival. Depending, on what is trending and how we can connect with our consumers more, keeping those factors in mind we plan to expand into more avenues and hosting events like “artist spotlight” and collaborating with entrepreneurs on Instagram that create fan-arts and things like that. Maybe hosting events by collaborating with other platforms or maybe create India’s largest Korean culture fest. There are a lot of possibilities, let’s see where our team and time leads us.
Q. Any final message for our Karnibelles and Karnibeaus?
Sneha: For our beautiful community members, just know that we love you with all our heart's and the hard work the team does is entirely for you guys. So just keep embracing you K, keep loving each other, and always be with us, Karnival and we hope that every day with us is a celebration with you.
Bhavish: We Saranghae you guys. Thank you for supporting us all this while. The growth, where we are today, it’s all because of you guys. Your support and your feedbacks are what keeps us growing and improving. We exist because you exist. Thank you for making so special. Once again we Saranghae you!
For more information visit:
Love Karnival: https://www.instagram.com/lovekarnival
Shop Karnival: https://www.instagram.com/shopkarnival
Phone/Whatsapp: +91 8356881051