Women Of Worth 2015

Earthy optimist

Here's how a setback in her early days spurred Nina Lekhi to create one of India's most successful accessory brands, Baggit

Soumik Kar

As the founder of a brand as popular as Baggit, you would expect Nina Lekhi to be running on a tight schedule, with hardly any time for interviews. But unlike most entrepreneurs, Lekhi juggles work and media interactions with meditation sessions, cycling or swimming trips with her daughter.

“What is the point of Baggit being worth ₹400 crore or ₹4,000 crore if I can’t spend time with my daughter and be happy,” she asks. It is this attitude that sets Lekhi apart from her peers. The perfect example of a woman with grit, determination and endless energy, 48-year-old Lekhi is just like the bags her brand makes — cool and trendy. Be it running Baggit, taking care of her daughter, attending silence camps or doing adventure sports, Lekhi takes on every responsibility with a smile and enthusiasm that is almost contagious. And it is all these qualities that helped her start the accessory brand 30 years ago and build it to what it is today — a ₹75-crore company with 40 exclusive outlets and over 300 multi-brand stores in 128 cities across the country. 

It all started with a jolt — one that Lekhi received when she failed the first year of her arts course at Sophia Polytechnic in Mumbai. “For someone who has always been the teacher’s favourite, this came as a rude shock. And it was not a complicated programme where the course was very tough — it was a painting course. And I got so caught up with enjoying college life that I failed my first year. That was when I started taking things seriously. I felt like I had to prove to myself and to the world that I wasn’t stupid,” Lekhi reminisces.

With a year’s time at hand before she could give her exams again, Lekhi took up part-time courses — screen printing and interior design — at her college and two other part-time jobs as a salesgirl. It was in 1985 that she started making bags at home and selling them at stores, realising there was growing demand for trendy, yet functional handbags. Given that the family was very protective of their only daughter, Lekhi’s parents supported her throughout. 

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