MAKERS OF MUMBAI: AVINASH BHALERAO OF GRAIN
It’s the simplicity of Grain’s designs that make them stand out. Their bags, made of ahimsa leather, are handcrafted in founder Avinash Bhalerao’s elegant designs with clean lines and classic colours. We speak to Avinash about selling through social media, a typical day at the office, and what’s next for Grain.
The City Story: Why did you choose leather as the main material for your bags?
Avinash Bhalerao: Genuine leather lasts a life time. I wanted to make something that lasts long and looks better with age. Leather has a unique quality of getting better and younger every day. Grain bags are such that there is no other material in the inside lining, just leather. We keep it raw to have a natural look and finish, thus making them more premium. We may have roots in leather but are also open to other materials which will help us achieve our vision of making decent, minimal bags. We have already started experimenting with different cloth and canvas materials.
I'm involved in every stage of making the bags, right from sketching the designs to being present when the craftsmen do their thing, it is almost as if the distinction between the artisan and the designer vanishes and the sole point of it all is to make that one bag that would just leave you with immense amount of satisfaction and a smile on your face.
TCS: You don’t advertise. How do your customers find you?
AB: We have social media presence on both Facebook and Instagram where we share updates about our products, which helps us spread the word, but we also get lot of help from word of mouth where someone who has bought our products share their good experience with others and they directly reach out to us via phone or email. As of now we are happy with organic users we get from Facebook, Instagram, and word of mouth.
Our buyers get to see our entire catalogue on their email, and after detailed discussion with us they order their required product. All our consumers get a personal touch from us while deciding which product they want to buy. (Ed. Note: You can reach Grain at firstname.lastname@example.org or +91 98678 40439)
TCS: What does a typical day in the office look like for you?
AB: Working on new designs, managing the production floor, and making sure all orders are reaching consumers on time.
TCS: How does Mumbai feed a designer’s creativity? Has it had any influence on how you conceptualise/design products for Grain?
AB: Mumbai has given us both love and fame and good clientele list and response. We have started with a small thing and now we are growing larger. Mumbai is the best platform for creativity; everyone here welcomes your work and supports you.
TCS: On the flip side – does the city pose any challenges for a small business as it grows?
AB: Every business, small or big, faces challenges with increasing competitors and changing rules and regulations. As a business, we just make sure to keep working hard and to keep getting up whenever we fall.
TCS: If you had to pick just one thing, what is your favourite part of your job and why?
AB: Designing a new product is the best part, as designing is in my soul.
TCS: What’s your personal favourite Grain product and why?
AB: The Galloway backpack; it’s very minimal.
TCS: What’s next for Grain?
AB: We will soon have e-commerce website going live, so consumers will be able to check our catalogue online and directly buy the product they like from our website. We are also working on opening a Grain Shop soon, which will be located in one of the best locations in Mumbai for buyers who want to touch and feel our products before buying.
TCS: What’s your favourite thing to do in the city on your day off?