How Nurturing Relationships Helped This Travel Accessories Brand Thrive In the Pandemic

Cravar bucked the trend in an unloved industry

Cravar’s Jakarta outlet. Photo from Cravar’s Instagram page. Used with permission from Cravar.

1. Cravar developed genuine personal connections with its customers

Building strong customer relationships sounds cliched. No business will attribute their success to treating their customers like dirt.

The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.

Nevertheless, as a start-up lacking the product development and marketing firepower of the big brands, Yoki recognised the real risk that some of their products could fall flat with their customers.

Humanize your company

Educate about change

Assure stability

Revolutionise offerings

Tackle the future

Yoki attributes the human relationships he built with his customers kept Cravar afloat throughout the pandemic. The late-night chats he’d had with his customers over the years created a sense of reciprocity in his customers.

Collage of Cravar bags taken by appreciating customers. Photo from Cravar’s Instagram page. Used with permission from Cravar.

2. Yoki treated the production team as a family

Most of Cravar’s production team came from a single village with generations of leathermaking traditions. Many on the production team knew one another from back home, if not directly, indirectly through family ties.

The Cravar production team. Photo from Cravar’s Instagram page. Used with permission from Cravar.

3. Cravar secured an investor whose values were 100% aligned

Cravar’s search for external investors began in 2016 when Yoki and the founding partners realised they needed a fresh infusion of funds to accelerate Cravar’s development. The search for the right investor took Yoki and his partners some years.

Better to have a smaller slice of a big pie than a big slice of a small pie if it means more pie at the end for everybody.

The pandemic proved to be the trial by fire for the investor relationship. Yoki knew that COVID-19 could be an existential threat to Cravar. The investor would stand to lose his entire investment if things went south.

Final Thoughts

Cravar’s entry into an industry in which consumers associate “made in Indonesia” products as affordable but not high-quality was a gutsy play. Nevertheless, Cravar’s experience shows that building social capital meticulously over the years has allowed them to grow at rates that would be the envy of fashion brands anywhere in the world.

I write about business, finance, and freelancing life. | More insights at my free newsletter: https://uming.substack.com/

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