Nina Lekhi, the name associated with Baggit, a designer handbag label. Her story of starting her entrepreneurial venture is worth sharing here, when we have created this platform Women in Business with the sole intention of providing support and encouragement to women to start their home-based business.
Nina Lekhi always had a passion for painting which made her pursue a diploma foundation art course at Sophia’s Polytechnique in Mumbai. But, unfortunately she failed in her first year. This did not broke her down and instead was a blessings in disguise as she pursued two different courses which paved her destiny.
While studying, she started working at Amarson’s shop floor where she actually learnt the art of bag making. Her thrill of creation along with a sense of ownership and responsibility propelled an entrepreneurial instinct in her and she decided to start her own business. She was just 18 years of age that time. With full support from her mother, she started designing bags, and initially she sold her products at Amarson’s shop and in exhibitions only, and later on in few retail stores.
She started with an initial investment of Rs. 7000 from her mother. In order to make her bags different from other handbags, she started using eco-friendly materials. This was the first lesson she learned on her own. She says, “For a brand to be successful and be driven by passion, the founder needs to believe and own it completely!”
Today, she is known as the founder and CEO of Baggit, one of the leading Indian brands in handbags, also referred as “cruelty-free” bags. Today, she sells over a thousand bags in 1,000 outlets spread all across the country. She and her team is into full fledged designing and manufacturing of slings, handbags, clutches, shoulder bags, purses, wallets, totes, and satchels using innovative eco-friendly fabrics suitable for the modern Indian woman. Its not that she was very successful from the very beginning. She faced failures too. She lost more than 100 percent of the money invested, but this did not stopped her. She continued working hard. Investing and reinvesting the money thus earned from her sales, Nina built her brand and today is indeed an inspiration for other women entrepreneurs.
It is a rule for all her employees to start their day with meditation and interactive sessions. Every 3-6 months, she and her team attend 3-day residential silence camps at the gurukul in Katarkhadak, near Pune. She feels that such a practice makes way for more innovative ideas for her and her team and also enable everyone to lead a healthy life.
Today, she wants to make Baggit a leading international fashion brand and is working on it. And in India, she is targetting each city of India, especially metros and mini-metros. She has also launched the online portal to cater to a larger market. Nina was conferred Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the Entrepreneur India Awards 2015.
Her fundamental guidelines for women entrepreneurs
- Her failure was just the beginning and not the end.
- She evaluated her skills and competence in terms of the efforts given and not in terms of the number of years
- She created that product which she wanted to buy.
- She was not concerned about sales initially. So she started on a small scale
- She took the climb one step at a time
- She treats her employees more like a family
- She has an inherent desire to achieve more in life