Jaipur Rugs: An inspiring story of local empowerment

Jaipur Rugs: An inspiring story of local empowerment

SME Inspirations

GlobalLinker Staff

GlobalLinker Staff

23 Apr 2016, 10:30 — 9 min read

Jaipur Rugs, a world-renowned brand of beautiful, bespoke, hand woven carpets made by artisans from across India, was founded by N.K. Chaudhary (NKC) in 1978. Driven by a passion for stellar craftsmanship and a strong commitment towards the betterment of the weavers behind such work, he was focused on ensuring that these local artisans received the due that they deserved, through his enterprise. With a modest  beginning comprising two looms at his home, he went on to establish a flourishing business. NKC believed in associating directly with the weavers and doing away with the unnecessary middlemen, thus ensuring both, the timely supply of materials and prompt remuneration, on a monthly basis.

This legacy of building an organisation with a genuine social allegiance has been inherited by his son Yogesh Chaudhary, who has carried forward this legacy, ever since he took over in 2006, ensuring that expanding a successful enterprise with an underlying social message, never gets diluted. With a decade-long stint at the helm of Jaipur Rugs, Yogesh has seen the business expand its wings to over 60 countries, while being instrumental in creating an organisation that brings the weavers’ stories to the fore.

In a candid conversation with GlobalLinker (GL), Yogesh shares the extraordinary journey of Jaipur Rugs and his belief in selling not just exquisite carpets, but also sharing the blessings and goodwill of the artisans of India.

GL: Tell us about your business.

 My father started the business in 1978 from Churu in Rajasthan. My grandfather had a shoe shop, but there was a lot of competition so my father decided to shut it down and look at other options instead. One of his British friends suggested the opportunity presented by intricate carpet weaving. This drove him to Jaipur, where he approached a carpet-manufacturer to understand the basics of the trade. He returned home, installed two looms and employed local weavers to kick-start his enterprise. He developed a deep bond with the weavers and worked with them closely to understand their craft. Since he always put an emphasis on quality, exporters loved his product which helped the business flourish.

I joined the business in 2006.
Jaipur Rugs is a for-profit enterprise with an underlying social commitment to the artisans. We have over 40,000 artisans associated with the business.

GL: How does your business empower the artisans of India?

My father broke the long chain that existed between the exporter and the weaver. He did away with the middlemen and worked directly with the artisans instead. This ensured a better understanding with the weavers and translated into a direct improvement in their compensation to the tune of 50%-200% as compared to the scenario involving unnecessary exploitative contractors and middlemen. Working conditions for the artisans also witnessed a marked improvement as raw material collection and delivery logistics became more streamlined.

What my father did extremely well, was treating weavers the same way as he would treat customers. If a colour ran short, he insisted that it was delivered to the artisans within 48 hours ensuring that the work did not suffer. Instead of the weavers getting paid at the completion of the carpet, he started paying them on a monthly basis. Thus, when the weavers started working for us, they did not have to leave home. They received both the raw material as well as the payment, at their doorstep. This helped build a robust, loyal relationship and ensured that we could churn out superior quality carpets and propel the business forward. He believed in the social element of his enterprise and desired the benefit of every individual involved therein.

This social consciousness is the very fabric of our business and we make sure to always have a participative outlook, even in today’s times.

GL: What has your contribution been, in growing the business?

When I started off in 2006, we would, at most, export to one country. Today, we export to over 50 countries. I have been able to expand the global outreach of the business significantly.

A lot of operation and IT systems have been instituted during my tenure. We take pride in being an IT savvy company. We place a lot of emphasis on our
website, our technology and the way we portray the company to the outside world. We have always positioned ourselves as a world class, socially conscious, international company.

Despite having a social angle to our business, we take pride in the superiority of our products. This is evidenced by our revenue numbers that have increased ten-fold in the last decade, an excellent benchmark and a resounding proof of a highly profitable business model with an underlying social fabric.

Growing the business in the carpet industry can be challenge of sorts, owing to the type of manpower, distribution and the scale that is required. But it’s been a lot of fun. My whole family and the people who work with us are deeply passionate about the business. In my opinion, there is a feeling of fulfillment in finding a sense of purpose in life. The awareness that we can make a change in the way our industry functions and the society, as a whole, is extremely rewarding.  

GL: What is the core philosophy of Jaipur Rugs?

The world is changing rapidly. People are increasingly dissatisfied with their lives. At Jaipur Rugs, we are trying very hard to create an environment where it’s not about one single person but about a group, and society, in general. We have the Jaipur Rugs’ Foundation that works tirelessly for the upliftment and education of the artisans. Recently, we went to a village with an Australian client who had partly funded the education initiative in that village. While there, a woman approached me and said that after 45 years, she was finally able to read. That statement was much more valuable to me than all the riches in the world. There are hundreds of such inspiring stories and that’s the real strength and treasure of our organisation.

We take our employees to villages and make them meet and spend time with the weavers, to help them establish the “connect” that is so critical for us as an organisation.  Our ultimate aim is to create a happy community. When you try to create happiness for others, the joy you derive from work is unmatched.

GL: Are you involved in training the artisans?

The Jaipur Rugs Foundation trains thousands of new artisans every year. Since inception, my father has invested time and resources in training weavers, thus ensuring the craft is kept alive. Our foundation has empowered and trained hundreds of tribal women.

GL: How important, do you feel, a platform like GlobalLinker is, that serves to connect SMEs?

I think it’s extremely critical since through GlobalLinker, small businesses are finding the right contacts. They are able to create a collaborative community with people who face similar business challenges and are hungry to explore mutually productive avenues to grow. It presents a platform to exchange great ideas and knowledge, contributing to tremendous value-add, both to fledgling concerns and to established businesses. 

GL: What is your message to an aspiring entrepreneur?

Yogesh: You must be ready to weather a lot of struggles through the first few years of establishing a business. I know a lot of people who quit when faced with the first set of problems, and move on to something else. However, the right mentality demands that you hang in there through the rough patches, as long as you believe in what you are doing and give the business a fair chance to fructify. I am fortunate to be able to draw inspiration from my father’s remarkable journey that saw him face troubles head-on, yet move ahead with conviction. I value this tenacity and it continues to stand me in good stead through my journey.

Disclaimer: This article is based solely on the inputs shared by the featured member. GlobalLinker does not necessarily endorse the views, opinions & facts stated by the member.

Jaipur Rugs: An inspiring story of local empowerment


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