RITZ met Nina Lekhi, the charismatic MD & Chief Design Curator, Baggit and got her to share her interesting story of success behind her handbag brands, that’s making waves across the country
- How did the idea of getting into making bags come about? What was the turning point when you decided to become an entrepreneur?
Three decades ago I realised that my friends and I did not have funky and contemporary bags to buy in India. My design background helped me start off with one bag then. I sold at exhibitions, supplied exclusively in my initial years to a few retail stores in South Mumbai. My designs and my commitment to not using leather have been appreciated and bought by the Indian woman of all age groups and that gave me the impetus then, and even today to continuously have the growth in numbers for last 26 years.
- You have written a book called Bag it All. How did you get into writing this book? What was that moment when you decided that you wanted to pen down your journey?
We were celebrating our 26th year of business and I realised there was so much I wished to share with the world right from business to my life. There is this belief that women cannot have it all but given my experiences, I strongly believe that women can have it all if they are determined, disciplined and have that fire in the belly to make it work. I am hoping that with this book, I will be able to inspire many more entrepreneurs and women to expect and get more out of life.
- What were some of the challenges that came across? How has the journey been?I was always creatively inclined and life led me towards a path where I had the opportunity to realise my dream. When I started the business, one of the biggest challenges I faced was industry know how. I started when I was fresh out of college and was fuelled only by my passion. But thankfully, I am a quick learner. I picked up the tricks of the trade along the way and in a few years was set to take my business ahead in a more structured manner. Today we are one of the leading handbag brands in the country. The journey of Baggit had been exciting, one that I am proud of. During the span of the last 26 years, Baggit has grown at a healthy pace that has made it a market leader consistently. We started with one store in Mumbai and today in 2017, Baggit retails at 90 cities and around 1000 plus stores including 48 exclusive Baggit outlets, and we are expanding on a month-on- month basis. Baggit incorporates eco-friendly values to it’s all products, brand’s strong belief in ‘Fashion without cruelty’ that won it a PETA Proggy award in 2013. In the same year Baggit added another feather to its cap by bagging Shopper’s Stop Best Brand Award in the Bags & Accessories Category for consecutive three times. Also Baggit has bagged few awards from leading malls & online portals. I count each one as an accomplishment, as each one presented a different challenge and growth prospect.
- What have been some of your biggest indulgences?
I believe in work-life balance. I have a policy of working only for three days a week at my work place. This three day work rule has me even more intensely focused on my work objectives. I take out three days for myself and visit the Gurukulam in Katarkhadak that my husband and I have adopted in the outskirts of Pune. I make sure to involve myself in reading, thinking and analysing when I am here. What I do for these three days can vary from week to week. It is really a stress buster to go back to the kids and my own daughter who stays at the Gurukulam. Being a fitness freak, I go cycling, swimming, trekking, which are some of my favorite pastimes.
- What are your future plans?
We have a plan to open 20 new stores by the end of this year, especially targeting in Metros & Mini Metros. As the purchasing power of Indian consumers is increasing, our major focus is to penetrate in different zones in tier II and III cities of India, through distribution network. Online retail is also showing positive signs to grow tremendous this year. Our long term target is to have presence in each city of India. We are also putting our plans together to grow internationally.
— As told to Namita Gupta.