Founded by: Nina Lekhi
Baggit was founded in 1985 by Nina Lekhi. It is an Indian company manufacturing handbags and other related non-leather accessories for men and women. Nina started the business in a small scale mainly working from home but always worked towards making it big. Due to her attitude of never giving up, creativity in design and presentation of products the brand grew to become the foremost brand in the fashion bag and its accessories category with an annual revenue of Rupees 160 crores in 2018.
Baggit produces about 150,000 products per month with plans of further increase with the demand growing in its market. The brand operates through fifty exclusive retail outlets and is also available in nearly 1,000 large format stores spread all over India. Nina was also the winner of the prestigious Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2015 at the Entrepreneur India Awards.
How it All Started
Nina Lekhi was a meritorious student during her school days. She was always interested in designing and creativity, so she decided to pursue a course in textile designing at a young age. She was focused on achieving something in her life and was eager to test herself in the professional field of garment designing.
She started working in various temporary positions under well-known designers like Mike Kripalani and Shyam Ahuja to learn the basics of business and creative designing.
She also completed a part time course in interior designing and screen printing during this period. Another important milestone in her professional career was landing the job of a sales girl in Amarsons during 1984, a popular departmental store in Mumbai. Here she saw the rising demand of handbags and similar accessories among the customers visiting the store.
This realization coupled with the self-belief that she can succeed in entrepreneurial ventures led her to launch “Baggit’ in 1985. She mainly operated from home, designed and crafted the products herself, employed untrained staff like the liftman and security guard of her apartment building. Her parents were extremely supportive throughout the difficult initial formation period.
Nina even borrowed the initial investment amount of Rupees seven thousand from her mother. She was industrious and was not afraid of the hard grind that was required during the starting phase of her business. Her positive attitude and the ability to bounce back from failures kept her moving forward. She managed ‘Baggit’ almost single-handedly, from using Denims as base materials to patching discarded military badges to her handbags; she was innately creative which helped popularize her products.
She visited wholesalers all over the city and pitched her products at the sale counters. Nina also believed in interacting directly with her customers and taking positive measures to act on their feedback and suggestions, which she followed throughout her rise in the business scene of the country.
The Journey to Success
Baggit began its journey to the pinnacle of handbag and related accessories from the humble surroundings of Nina Lekhi’s home in 1985. With the help of the close friend and associate Mona, she started her business venture with minimum capital and resources, but had the confidence and self-belief to succeed in her enterprise.
Her designs were fresh and unique; she used a wide variety of materials in her creative process and sourced all the components personally during the initial phase of her business. Her product made appearances in the counters of Amarsons and Kripalani with whom she had contacts during her earlier working days as a salesgirl and trainee.
She landed a fixed contract with Amarsons which provided the crucial cash flow to keep the business going during the initial struggling phase. She also took the initiative and organized many exhibitions to further popularize her products. She opened her first “shop-within-a-shop” store in the Oberoi Hotel shop floor in 1989.
All the concerted effort and struggle finally started to show dividends during the 1990s as increased demand for her products prompted her to shift operations to the Lalbaug Industrial Estate in Mumbai during the year 1990. She always encourage raw talents to work for her and even hired freshers in her business. Nina Lehki opened her first stand alone retail outlet, INXS, at the Kemp’s Corner in Mumbai during the year 1992.
Currently, the brand has twenty one exclusive retail outlets in the city of Mumbai alone, while it is also sold from counters at well-known reailers like Shopper’s Stop and Lifestyle all over the country.
Nina expanded her business steadily throughout the 1990s and only took a break for three years after the birth of her daughter in during the year 2000. Her brother also became actively involved in the business of Baggit which helped her greatly, so that she could concentrate more on expansion and increase of sales rather than managing daily operations of the company.
Marketing Strategies and Promotions
Baggit is a privately owned and managed business till date in spite of its fairly large scale of operations and ever-increasing demand for its products in the country. The entire process of manufacturing, weaving, printing and even labeling of its products is managed directly by the company employees. This helps to control the inventory, expenditure, product quality while meeting manufacturing deadlines in the best possible manner. The research and development of new product lines and designs is also taken care of by Nina Lekhi and her team.
Baggit as a brand has been conscious of the possible environmental impact of the handbag manufacturing business. Nina Lekhi has strongly advocated the fact since the beginning and her company uses only synthetic and environmentally friendly raw materials in the manufacturing process.
This initiative has helped to further popularize her products among the sensitive customers and the company also gained appreciation from the social activists in the category.
Apart from the signature ‘Baggit’ handbags, the company has invested in manufacturing of wallets, belts, caps, scarves and mobile pouches to compliment its primary product. Nina Lekhi and her management team strive to create a productive working environment where all the employees feel responsible for the company. They are encouraged to work in a creative and fulfilling environment where they contribute in towards the success of the business as a whole to the best of their abilities.
Consequently, they are empowered to consider themselves as shareholders of the business and its success is a direct reflection of their hard work and sincere efforts.
Thus, Nina Lehki’s ‘Baggit’ company is a prime example of women empowerment in the country. It is a shining beacon to all the enterprising persons to show them that positive attitude, hard work and not quitting after repeated failures or hardships can result in ultimate success after sustained effort. Baggit currently occupies the top position among indigenous handbag brands in the country with huge potential of further international expansion and higher business revenues in near future.