In the early 90’s, when entrepreneurship and startups were novel terms in the Indian society, this woman entrepreneur decided to make trendy, designer bags at affordable prices for the Indian woman. Twenty-five years back the market was unorganized. While there was a need for trendy, smart handbags at an affordable price, there were not many sellers.
Nina Lekhi founded Baggit in 1990 and has built it inch-by-inch to one of the largest selling brand of bags in India.
“It was my passion for designing and the zest I possessed for life that led me to start creating bags of my own. I have always believed that passion is the ability to follow your dream when things are going well and even when you have challenges to face. Inspired by a variety of sources- both Indian and international- and armed with my own unique aesthetic, I started experimenting with canvas, faux leather and other materials to create handbags in my very own signature styles. Since I loved color, I selected vibrant hues to express my artistic vision and reflect my colorful personality, Nina said.
Being an entrepreneur in the 90s
The biggest challenge was taking the first step and starting the business and the second one was when I started my first store in Atria, Mumbai, although I had a better proposition in Malad, but travelling so far was not feasible because I had a family to take care of. Not knowing what kind of sale I would do, knowing that the rentals were high, I took the risk and followed what I was passionate for. Despite various issues, my vision and main goal was clear. Automatically the right doors opened up which eventually led me to open more stores. After the first success there was no looking back,” she said.
The inspiration behind the idea of Baggit
“Three decades ago I realized that my friends and I did not have funky and contemporary bags to buy in India. In those times we used to get T-shirts with simple slogans on it which led us to think that like T-shirts, why don't we have bags? That's when I thought of making bags & my zest for painting and art inspired me to take up two art courses - one in textile and another in interior decoration. The design background had developed an urge in me to create extraordinary handbags for the fashionable woman. I picked up the tools of the trade and started the Baggit journey,” she said.
Fighting international and traditional competition
India has seen a great influx of foreign brands over the last couple of years. In a situation like this, it becomes increasingly difficult for local brands to compete with international, marquee labels.
“India as a country has always been very conscious on meeting high fashion standards. With the entry of international brands in India, there has been a huge gap which cannot be filled because of the competition in the fashion industry, especially in the bags and accessories sector. The market in India is becoming more organized and the market potential for branded players in this segment has augmented. The competition is within to live up to the standards and provide luxury at reasonable prices. Baggit’s strength lies in delivering a product which is superior, in terms of functionality as well as design. The acceptance among all age groups and our large variety of skills helps us to retain and grow market-share,” Nina said.
Maintaining the brand status on an e-commerce platform
Baggit today sells its products on different e-commerce platforms. While some industry experts believe this could lead to a brand getting lost in the jungle of e-commerce, Nina looks at the brighter side of this opportunity!
“We have seen a significant shift in the retail business with the introduction of the ecommerce platform. E-tailers have made it easy for today’s consumers to shop by providing them with plenty of choices, better pricing, return policy, free shipment and so much more. E-tailers have also set the bar high in customer servicing-no questions asked exchange policy, free reverse pick up – has definitely gained respect for them among the consumers- something physical retailers have to play catch-up with. E-tailers clearly win in use of analytics and suggesting products that are of similar interest to the customer who visits again. Selling on an ecommerce platform attracts more consumers which ensure greater reach, higher brand awareness and increased revenues. I believe if you have created solid brand imagery, consumers tend to have brand recall and become aware of what they are actually looking for in the market.”
Currently the company has 47 exclusive Baggit stores and retail through leading 1000+ large format stores and multi-brand outlets, and other online retailers, spread across different cities in India. But Nina plans to open a lot more outlets in every city in India, especially targeting in metros & mini metros. Internationally, she wants the brand to spread its wings in other countries too. “I would love to see Baggit as a leading international fashion brand,” she added