Few objects can showcase success and achievement as well as a trophy does. And the owners of 100-year-old Dhobi Talao shop, Jhaveri Brothers and Company, couldn’t agree more. Last week, on June 27, the shop celebrated its diamond jubilee.
Eager to visit this unique city landmark, we dropped by only to spot trophies, plaques and mementoes of all shapes, sizes, colours and materials vying for elbowroom. We spotted displays of old advertisements, sepia photographs, bills, news articles, and products (like Mont Blanc pens, which were initially introduced by the company in the city) on display.
A projector constantly displayed historical photographs on the walls. Despite a property dispute between the landlord and the owners, which had reached the courts, there seemed to be a resolve in the air to ensure the celebrations continued.
How it started
Shyamdas Jhaveri founded Jhaveri Brothers and Company in 1914; his son Durlabh Jhaveri carried it forward, and today, his daughter Seyjhal Jhaverri runs the shop. The founder had made the rags-to-riches journey to Bombay from Bhavnagar when he was nine-years-old with just `9 in his pocket. He spent a few years working as a salesman. His boss at Narottam Bhau Jewellers (which sold novelties and gifts) spotted a spark in young Jhaveri and offered him a partnership.
Jhaveri was eventually approached by Narottam Bhau to take over the entire business for `1 lakh and that’s how Jhaveri Brothers and Company came into being. Jhaveri Brothers started at Crawford Market and moved to their present location in 1938 (it took two years, 1936-38, to install the glass panes for the showcase and shelves that were imported from Britain); they later opened a shop at Flora Fountain. Today, only the Dhobi Talao shop remains.
Apart from trophies and shields, the shop’s products became synonymous even with silver birth/marriage spoons (that etch the date of birth/wedding and other details) and silver coins (in demand for corporate milestones, weddings or other ceremonies). Seyjhal (42), present director of Jhaveri Brothers and Company, has been working at the shop for over 24 years.
She worked her way to her current role, from polishing the counters to taking orders, ideating and execution (it takes nearly 24 hours to make a trophy). While she would hang around the shop in her school days, it was always her aim to follow the vision of her grandfather and ensure that the store completed 100 years.
Such a long road
Speaking about their business mantra, which has helped them through the years, she says, “The focus has always been on customer-oriented service and offering a variety of products at reasonable prices. The goodwill of our customers has seen us through the years.” Initially, the shop sold novelties and gifts (imported from England and Germany) and then moved on to trophies.
Their client list is impressive. They have been visited by the likes of film stars such as Dilip Kumar and Nargis and have made trophies for film and corporate functions, be it the Rajiv Gandhi Award, coins to celebrate LIC’s 30-year anniversary and plaques for BCCI’s golden jubilee year. Royalty from the princely states of Bhavnagar, Kota and Indore, the CCI and companies such as Titan were also Jhaveri’s clients. Among the newer lot of clients are Reliance, Tata and the Bombay High Court.
They are open to suggestions and brainstorm for an appropriate design. They even have international customers who vouch for their creations. They churn out an average of 700 trophies a month with 7,000 designs available.
Move with the times
With the changing market scenario, Seyjhal states that the demand nowadays, is for crystal trophies aside from wooden and silver-plated ones. New technology including laser engraving is used and customers can browse through numerous catalogues before making a choice. “The challenge remains to ensure that despite the competition, our products are of the highest quality and customers also expect something new every time, so we have to be creative with each product. After-sales service is also key for the reputation of the company,” she emphasises.
Former director Dinesh Jhaveri (60) observes that while he was the director, he would travel and check out the trophies at shops across the world. “I was happy to note that we were on par with the best,” he states.
While being a woman who handles this family business raises eyebrows at times, Seyjhal admits that being a hands-on boss, who has learned the ropes by doing everything, means no one can take her for granted or expect to get away easy and the service speaks for itself. With her sister’s daughter, Urja, set to take over from her eventually, the journey ahead promises to be just as memorable as its sepia-tinted past.
At Jhaveri Bros & Co, Metro House, Dhobi Talao.
Log on to www.jhaveribros.com
One of a kind
In the 1960s, Jhaveri Bros & Co were the sole distributors of Mont Blanc pens. They also offered Stanley jugs, which they innovated and made more
India-friendly by changing its design.
Memories and memorabilia
This archival photograph showcases the Indian tricolour unfurled across Metro cinema and the surrounding shops on India’s Independence Day in 1947
How Dhobi Talao became a trophy hub
City historian Deepak Rao states that the presence of the undivided Esplanade, where locals played sports, ensured that the area became a trophy/sports shop hub. “Around 1920-25, the Bombay Native Infantry Battalion were moved to Colaba military station. There were clubs in the area, hence, there was a demand for trophies, shoes and more.”
Other trophy shops at Dhobi Talao
The decade-old Trophy House makes trophies for events related to sports and for other occasions. Run by Juze Retiwala and family, the trophies are made at their workshop. They also customise trophies.
At 82, Tyson House, Trinity Street, near Metro Cinema and Kit Kat
Restaurant, Dhobi Talao.
Log on to www.trophyhouse.co.in
Started in 1959, Richie Rich offers trophies in crystal, brass and other materials as well as medals. They have made trophies for prominent customers like BSNL and MTNL.
At 659 Jer Mahal, Metro Cinema, beside Kyani Bakery, JSS Road, Dhobi Talao.