A year back I got a chance to interview this charming designer who has a thing for leather and thread and as Forbes magazine says, is now taking this Indian craftsmanship to a global audience with international clientele like Naomi Watts and Eva Longoria among many other, Gautam Sinha, the creative mind behind the handmade leather brand, Nappa Dori.
R – What is Nappa Dori all about? What’s your success story?
G – Nappa Dori is about doing what you love, it’s about having a vision and making it happen. It’s not about number crunching or doing market studies. I feel we are just starting, there are a lot of things to do before the definition of success comes into play.
R – Why and How did you come up with the idea of starting Nappa Dori ? What inspired you?
G – Nappa Dori means Leather & thread , they are the two things I use almost everyday. hence i felt it defined the brand the best and it came out of a need to do things which I felt made me happy , it was not about selling , it was about creating . and I know it sounds very cliche but I was genuinely frustrated with how things were going and wanted to vent my creative energy into something I loved, which was design.
R – How is Nappa Dori different from other leather product brands?
G – We just don’t go on trends, we make things that make us happy. It’s not sales driven. But, yes we do need to sell to survive , hence the things we make have a utilitarian function to them.
R – What is design according to you and how do you incorporate design and usability in your creations? How do you read market sentiments for design development?
G – The one most important thing that everyone should know is , design is not fashion! I think most people combine the two but they are very different in their DNA , we design things which are very utilitarian and serves a purpose. Yes things need to look nice or else no one will end up buying them, hence a certain amount of aesthetics has to be there and it’s not about reading market sentiments it’s about delivering something which people will appreciate and respect. people are very focused these days, they know what they are looking for and can easily tell whats not worth their time. I feel if a company stays true to their ground rules and gives a quality product time after time, people will be drawn to that the most.
R – What’s your favorite shade of leather? Do you incorporate that shade in all of your creations?
G – I love the natural hues of leather , tans , browns. I use tan the most in my products, I feel it carries a certain sense of heritage and richness in it. I love playing around with different mediums , like wood , iron , fabric for brighter colors , but with leather I keep up the natural color charts.
R – What is your bestseller? Did you know it would sell that well?
G – I think its the Laptop bag. No, I had no clue about how many pieces I would sell or if it would sell at all, I think that’s the beauty in creating something new, you never know how it would be received by the customers, there are certain products which people told me not to make, as they would not sell at all for example, the trunks but, once we made them and kept them in the stores, we were astonished at the amount of response we got, and unknowingly tapped into a market segment which we did not know existed.
R – Who is a loyal Nappa Dori customer according to you?
G – Well, loyalty is earned over a period of time, I think we are too young at the moment to have loyal customers, I do hope we do have some, but yes, we believe someone who has a strong personal lifestyle does intend to shop with us, someone who knows a quality product.
R – Do you like travelling? if yes, then what inspires you to travel? (apart from your work) and What is your favorite place in India?
G – I love traveling, I think it’s the best way to grow and evolve. It gives you so much to learn from. It also gives you enough time to unwind and reboot all your senses. I always come back from my travels with so many fresh ideas, feeling inspired. I think meeting new people, and visiting new places has made me know myself better, the person that I am. My favorite place in India would be Udaipur .
R – What is the most funniest or the most scariest thing that has ever happened to you on any of your trips and the most craziest thing you have ever done?
G – The scariest thing that I have done would be sky diving, over palm Dubai, it was actually scary sitting and waiting for the jump to happen rather than the real fall and the craziest thing I have done, it would be on one of my trips to New York, when I was traveling alone, I ended up going for a bachelors party of a friend’s friend who I had never met and I would a mix of scary and crazy would be when this one time I bought a ticket to Puerto Rico for the weekend for a flight which was leaving in the next 4 hours .
R – If you had to pack your life in one your classy trunks, what would you pack and why?
G – All my basics, my phone, camera, my dog and if the trunk is big enough to fit my bike that definitely my bike as well.
R – Lastly what is that one thing, just one that you cannot travel without?
G – Mint ! you never know who you are going to meet 🙂
PS: You can buy the amazing leather products by Nappa Dori here – http://www.nappadori.com/