Every month, Charanjeev Salva carefully packs a one-of-a-kind subscription box for his customers. It contains a pre-washed turban, beard grooming and turban styling products like the salai (turban pin), and a mini style guide. “If it’s a wine-coloured turban, we specify what it can be teamed with,” he says. Salva is the founder of singhstyled.com, a website that sells turbans in every hue (think fern green and tangerine), and beard grooming products like cleansers, oils, special brushes and combs.
The idea for Singh Styled struck the Mumbai-based enterpreneur last year. “Getting trendy turbans was always an issue. Even beard oils had to be picked up during foreign trips,” he says. While Sikhs have used Fixo (a beard-setting gel) through the decades, Salva sought less harsh options. “After you bathe, beards lose moisture and get itchy. Oils solve that problem,” he states, adding that he roped in a dermatologist friend to assemble the catalogue.
While Singh Styled is the first Indian website to cater to these products, there are others around the globe that have been fulfilling the styling needs of the 30-million strong community. US-based turbanandbeard.com started out as an Instagram page in December 2014, and now retails moustache waxes, beard oils, and brushes. Others, like UK-based sikhistore.com, have gone a step further by offering children’s books, comics, games, and turbans in a range of fabrics like malmal, voile and rubia. “We wanted to make these items easily accessible. Our first order was from Israel and we now serve in more than 20 countries,” says co-founder Gurjeet Singh.
Steering clear of unimaginative Santa-Banta gags, newer options are changing the game for Sikhs looking to revel in a unique cultural identity. Singhstreetstyle.com, the popular blog by UK-based Pardeep Singh Bahra that features stylish Sikh men on the streets of London, has a retail offshoot selling quirky T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies. Their Christmas collection includes turbaned snowmen, Santa Claus and elves, while Star Wars finds its way in the form of Darth Singh and Jedi Singh, with lightsabers to boot.
As the market for these products expands, Salva is set to extend his catalogue. In the three months since Singh Styled’s inception, they have shipped 290 orders to 132 cities worldwide. Tigerstyle, a popular Glasgow-based Bhangra act and record label, and actress Gul Panag are regular customers. Salva says, “Many non-Sikhs buy our products, as they make for great gifting options.”
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From HT Brunch, January 3, 2016
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