"I'm from Kanpur, the largest city in Uttar Pradesh, renowned for its unique leather work. I'm heir to a family tradition that goes back several generations. My family has always specialized in leather...
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"I'm from Kanpur, the largest city in Uttar Pradesh, renowned for its unique leather work. I'm heir to a family tradition that goes back several generations. My family has always specialized in leather footwear and I would assist my father when I was in college. I've always enjoyed designing and though I never took any formal classes, my brother Sarfaz was there to guide me and encourage me. However, my interests differ from that of my family's: I'm more interested in designing leather bags, not shoes.
"I first began designing bags during my free time, and everyone loved them. My brother helped me put a small collection of my bag designs together and we displayed them in an exhibition in Mumbai. The response was so great and it gave me a good boost!
"In 2007 my family moved to Delhi for good and I really wanted to start designing full time. So along with my brother Sarfaz we started a small design studio. I want to give a special mention to my brother, because he has been with me throughout this and it's such a great feeling to be working together.
"Beauty, be it in words, texture, sound, design, nature, inspires me. I am a creative person and to me, creativity is about linkages and free thinking. I have not studied design in a school or a college; instead my education in this field has come from my love for beautiful things. For me, fashion is about enjoying and exploring beauty.
"My brother and I work with a core team of karigars,
that is master craftsmen with a long experience in their respective fields. For my bags, I use traditional treatments like quilting, weaving and embroidery with today's design sensibilities. Each day I learn something new about making handbags from my team. It's a collaborative process and I am learning and growing with each new style of bag we make. The head craftsman, Masterji, develops the patterns for my designs and initially we make mocks to test them. A lot of thought goes into choosing the type of leathers according to the style, and sometimes it takes more than a couple of days for the first bag to be made. There is a lot of respect for each other in our team, for we all bring something different to the table. A penchant for quality and a keenness to learn are the chief criteria to be part of our team.
"My brother taught me that knowledge can be gained only when the desire is there, and that most important of all, we should take pride in our work. In fact, that is my goal: to make beautifully crafted and premium quality bags here in India.
"My wish is that through our work, our India become synonymous with quality and design. That is my inspiration and that is my goal. I don't want India to be known as a low-cost producer of mediocre bags. India has a proud tradition of leather crafts and our design sensibilities are as good as Italy or Spain, and I want to make handbags that convey this to our customers.
"For me, a woman should feel good about carrying one of my bags – it's as simple as that. In fact, my designer label is 'beautiful girl' because I feel there is a beautiful girl inside every woman. And my bags are designed to complement each woman’s beauty. Besides, they don't discriminate against size, we don't need to be model size to enjoy the latest trend in handbags."