Handbags, made in India? What names pop up? Hidesign is numero uno. Then there is Baggit and Caprese. If it is a leather bag, I go for Hidesign; their bags are absolutely the best and for formal wear, nothing is classier than leather.
What about non-leather? For a long time, I didn’t find anything I liked. And then one day, I was in our Mumbai office and saw my colleague carrying this white and gold checkered hobo bag; I couldn’t take my eyes off it. The gold was shimmering and the white looked so elegant; I managed to sneak a peek into the label: Baggit. The name stuck and since then I wanted to get my hands on one. It was a long wait, back in Kerala, there were no outlets retailing Baggit.
And then I got one, my first Baggit was a dark olive green tote, not exactly a beauty, more on the functional side; I liked the shape, the textured design. I loved the bag – it was light weight, sturdy, carried my world and it just wouldn’t give in. I still have it.
Since then, I have bought more Baggit bags than Hidesign bags – casual, colourful, funky, functional and incredibly durable. They are vegan bags, but am amazed at their durability; so far I believed that only leather bags lasted long, I was wrong.
So who makes these amazing bags? And now I know – a lady by the name Nina Lekhi; her book was on sale and I wanted to read her story.
Nina started making bags aged 18 from her father’s apartment in Mumbai and grew it into a 100 cr business. Hailing from a Sindhi business family and marrying into a Punjabi business family; her education began early from the dinner table conversations at home. She began making bags to rid her mind from the guilt of an academic failure she knew she could have averted. She was smart, had an insatiable ability to learn and was hands on in all aspects of the business – a deadly combination that open doors to success.
She could have stopped the hobby of making bags after marriage; but she persisted. She employed members of her family in the business and this has it’s ups and down, detailed in the book. The book is not a riveting saga of building a business empire, but more like an interview with Nina Lekhi where she divulges bits and pieces of her entrepreneurial journey- there was no history of bag making in the family, she worked from her instincts. She reveals the secret behind the name Baggit – inspired by Michael Jackson’s hit song Beat It. And then there is the aspect of spirituality via the Siddha Samadhi Yoga (SSY) which she has incorporated into her personal and professional life.
The business was not without challenges – contract workers copying designs for cheaper lookalikes, fighting the onslaught of cheaper Chinese bags, ensuring safety of workers and production during the communal riots in Mumbai, managing the business while taking care of her daughter, scaling the business and many others.
As a woman heading a business she has made changes – “There are no uniform clad boys in my office. My sari-clad angels do it all – whether it is photocopying, serving pre-lunch salad or tea or even packing cartons.”
There are colourful pictures in the book detailing her story. Among her business fundas, she outlines the Eat the Frog concept by Brian Tracy – “Every work day can be broken down into smaller steps…the day can be broken into 10 important tasks to be achieved. Out of those 10 things, I push myself to complete the worst one first.”
“If the first thing you do when you wake up is the morning is eat a live frog, then nothing worse can happen for the rest of the day.” says Brian Tracy.
I love the bags she has created and am delighted to put a face to this amazing brand.