It began as a hobby for Dilip Kapur in 1978. He set up a shot with just one worker and lesser insight on what the future would hold.
Forty years later, Hidesign is spread across 25 countries.
Kapur’s leather-crafting passion diversified into handbags, briefcases, laptop bags, travel bags, wallets and accessories ranging from `4,000 to `35,000. More recently, Hidesign added shoes and sunglasses to its portfolio. The company now has five manufacturing facilities located in Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, two in Puducherry and a tannery in Chennai.
Despite price pressures that have forced many to introduce sub-brands using synthetic leather, Hidesign and Kapur continue to use the centuries-old skill of tanning with natural seeds and barks. As of March 31, 2018, Hidesign’s revenue is nearly 160 crore with nearly a fifth of its sales coming from India itself.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
Nithya: Hidesign is a shining beacon of the “Make In India” campaign. We are at the heart of where it all began, in Puducherry. Can you talk to us really of what gave birth to the brand?
Dilip: I came back to Auroville from America with a PHD in ‘pretty useless’ International Affairs. I was getting bored. So, I got one more person on board and started creating leather products. I really like working with my hands, so it my way of being artistic. Then, people started buying the things I made, which was quite a surprise and it kept growing.
Nithya: It is not a typical factory, it’s not like there are men everywhere like a typical factory, but it is all women here. So what is the strength you have over here and was it a conscious decision made here at the Puducherry facility?
Dilip: Nine of 10 workers at this factory are women. People in Puducherry are educated so we started hiring girls with a high school degree and we trained them.
Nithya: How has the retail footprint been for the company?
Dilip: I once asked Yves Carcelle, president, Louis Vuitton, “Where should I be?” He said, “Why do you ask me that, you should be where your customer is.” The answer was simple, that’s why airports make sense. We love travel, we love careers.
Nithya: What fuels your passion after 35-40 years, and say it’s a brand new day at Hidesign?
Dilip: The values don’t change. New ideas keep bouncing over your head and that’s how we stay relevant. Customers still think of us as a natural and ecological brand.
Watch the complete episode here
to find out more about Hidesign's successful journey as CNBC-TV18’s Disruptors.