The Weekend Leader - How Raghav Kapoor Built Finelines with Rs 10 Lakh to a Rs 7 Crore Turnover Leather Brand

The Kanpur Lad’s Great Leap from a Rs 12,000 Call Centre Job to a Rs 7 Crore Turnover Leather Designer Brand

Shyla F   |  


Vol 15 | Issue 27

Raghav Kapoor's transformation from a young man who quit his studies after Class 12 to becoming the founder of a successful leather designer brand has been a journey of grit and determination.

His first job was at a call centre, but soon his creative abilities got him an opportunity to design leather products for his brother-in-law’s equestrian sports goods business. His eight-year stint there eventually led him to start his own leather designer brand, Finelines.

Raghav Kapoor launched Finelines in 2016 with Rs 10 lakh (Photos: Special Arrangement) 

Raghav, a self-taught designer with no formal training, founded Finelines in 2016 with a personal investment of Rs. 10 lakh. Today, Finelines boasts a turnover of Rs. 7 crore and operates out of Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.

The brand offers a wide range of products, including laptop bags, wallets, stationery pouches, pet products, travel bags, sling bags, belt bags, handbags, and tote bags. The Mila Sling Bag is their best-selling product.

Raghav, now 35, was born and raised in Kanpur. His father owned a shoe store, while his mother was a housewife. However, when Raghav was in Class 3, his father’s business faced losses, leading to the closure of the store and the sale of their house to manage the financial crisis.

To overcome the financial debacle, Raghav’s mother, along with his father, started a ladies' fashion boutique from a 200 sq ft shop in Kanpur’s Gomti Nagar. They designed and stitched various kinds of women's attire.

Named Her’s Fashion, the boutique is still run by his parents from the same location, though it has now expanded to 500 sq ft.

Throughout his school years, Raghav struggled with academics but excelled in arts, always curious about making drawings and patterns. He completed his Class 12 from Puranchandra Vidyaniketan, Kanpur, in 2008.

Raghav's first job was at a call centre where he took a salary of Rs 12,000

"After finishing school, I realised that my friends who were good at studies were joining colleges for higher education. And I used to think, what will I do? I thought it would be a waste of time for me to go for higher studies as I had no interest in it,” says Raghav.

So, after Class 12, Raghav joined a call centre, kicking off his career. “It all began with a job at a call centre, where the ringing phones and late-night shifts offered a stark contrast to the quiet and peaceful life. I was living with my parents then,” he recalls.

“My salary of Rs. 12,000 seemed like a fortune to me back then. But it was not easy; I used to ask myself if I made the right choice. Seeing my plight, my brother-in-law Varun offered me a chance to work at his small business—a modest equestrian export house.”

Varun’s business, Text Horse, produced a variety of goods related to horse riding and sports, catering to customers in Europe. The company made bridles, girths, halters, half chaps, saddles, saddle pads, horse rugs, and other stable accessories.

Raghav’s inclination towards design led him to create patterns and designs of saddles and bridles at Text Horse. “For eight years, I dedicated myself to learning the intricacies of the trade, sometimes working 14-16 hours a day. My parents, aware of my academic struggles, did not stop me from joining Text Horse,” Raghav recalls.

"I gained knowledge of how basic leather is transformed into beautiful designs and patterns at this place," he says. The business was located in Sarojini Nagar, Kanpur.

After almost eight years as a designer at Text Horse, a small incident in 2016 inspired Raghav to start his leather bag brand.

"One of our customers, Celine, was visiting from Europe for the Text Horse business. She also planned to visit a factory that made leather bags. I took her to the factory, but upon arrival, she discovered that the samples were not ready, and there was nothing to show her," Raghav recalls.

Raghav continues to be associated with Text Horse as a designer

Celine was upset by this unpreparedness, as she had travelled specifically to see the products. "She asked me, ‘Why don’t you make bags?’ Her simple question became my inspiration to start the bag brand," shares Raghav.

He immediately set to work, creating 50-60 bag designs on paper every day during her stay in India. Celine was impressed and encouraged him to make the bags.

Later, Raghav sent some samples to her office in France, which she liked and approved. With the confidence gained from designing products and securing orders from Celine, Raghav started Finelines. His brother-in-law Varun joined him in the new venture.

Raghav is the Creative Head of Finelines, overseeing all aspects of design, while Varun serves as the Director, handling finance and management. Despite launching his own brand, Raghav remains associated with Text Horse as a designer and receives a salary from them.

Finelines began in a small 600 sq ft area within Varun’s manufacturing unit in Sarojini Nagar, a centrally located area in Kanpur.

"I created around 10 designs of women's bags and initially made around 300 pieces. We began with a team of 20, including workers and pattern makers,” says Raghav.

Today, the two businesses together employ around 300 people. Among them, 220 are into manufacturing, 10 into marketing, and the rest are into packaging designing and various other tasks.

Finelines now offers 70 SKUs and manufactures around 5,000 pieces per month. As a B2C brand, it operates solely through its website, with 80% of sales coming from India and 20% from European countries.

Raghav claims that, unlike other leather brands, they use 100% French leather, known for its quality and long life. The least expensive product at Finelines is a wallet or travel bag costing Rs. 1500, while the most expensive is a duffle bag priced at Rs. 20,000.

A leather laptop bag from Finelines

Raghav lives in a joint family with his parents and family in Kanpur. He is married to Komal Kapoor, a banker with Bank of Baroda, Kanpur. They have a two-year-old daughter, Milana Kapoor. His elder sister, Sonam Jolly, runs a salon named PQ in Swaroop Nagar, Kanpur.

A passionate traveller, Raghav has explored almost the entire Europe. He loves mountains and keeps traveling alone and sometimes with his family in India or abroad.

His advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is, “Believe in what you are doing. Don't give up easily as good things take time to build up. Give time to your product, stay focused, and be patient.” - ©TWL

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