Nappa Dori’s first shop was established in Delhi, India in 2010 by Gautam Sinha, a fashion design graduate of NIFT. Inspired by his Indian heritage and local craftspeople, Gautam created a contemporary brand of luggage, bags and leather accessories, evocative of glamorous travel from a bygone era. Since that first Delhi shop, Nappa Dori has expanded to include seven stores in India, opening in Gurgaon, Bombay and Bangalore as well as Delhi, and a destination store in a resort island in the Maldives. Gautum shares his story with The Shopkeepers.
What motivated you to open Nappa Dori? A brick & mortar presence is essential to establish a sense of connect with the customer. To really experience the brand in its entirety, a shop not only serves as a point of sale but also as a narration of an entire story.
Is there a meaning behind the name ‘Nappa Dori’? Nappa Dori – essentially means “Leather & Thread” Nappa being a soft leather and Dori meaning Thread in the hindi dialect. The two materials are muse to everything I design.
Who designed the shop? I did it myself.
What is Nappa Dori best known for? Our metal trunks and handbags.
Where are the products made? We make everything by hand in our own studio with the help of about 30-35 local artisans.
What makes Nappa Dori unique? The fact that we manufacture all the products and fixtures ourselves and try to embed the essence of the brand in all the things we do, from the music “old jazz n blues” to the coffee we offer, Indian roasts from Indian farmed coffee. And we are also pet friendly with a simple pet menu, such as carrot cake and scramble eggs, for your pets. The entire store experience is to make one feel at home.
Who are your customers? Our main clientele is well travelled, health conscious, design lover, with a love for nostalgia, could be of any age group, but we mainly have customers in their 20’s and 30’s.
How has the internet impacted your business? Internet is an amazing tool to reach out to a wider audience, but I feel the brick & mortar stores are here to stay, it’s the sense of community that they build which an online portal could never do.
Gautam Sinha, the shopkeeper at Nappa Dori
Who inspires you? Coco Chanel.
What inspires you? The love for vintage, evoking a sense of nostalgia in my designs. If a product makes you feel emotionally connected to it, that’s when you know you have done something right. And travel, it’s the best education one can give themselves.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I … designed for a Scandinavian company making fashion accessories for them.
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? Dealing with people who always have a negative point of view towards things, trusting people too much.
What task do you like to delegate? I usually like to overlook everything. Unless and until its asking someone to make a cup of tea. “ I only drink coffee J “
The best lesson you have learned opening a shop? The joy of actual interaction, and a sense of community building.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? Be true to yourself, And don’t wait.
Which famous person would you like to visit your shop? Sir Paul Smith came to our store, he was one of the people who inspired me to design.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? An interior designer.
What is your perfect day off? Nice cup of coffee, a book and ocean breeze.
Your favorite neighborhood coffee shop? Monmouth Coffee Roasters in London.
On the Future of Retail
“I feel the corner shop concept for retail will come back, the world is a lot more conscious of what they consume and where it comes from, and hence smaller independent enterprises will make a huge impact on things.”