Hide and sleek: He engineered a career in design and leather accessoriesSharmila Ail
This is a journey of an engineer who became a self-taught designer by following his passion. Read his #PassionToPaycheck story here.
His name is bespoke in the world of interior design in Delhi. The clean, sleek spaces designed by him have an international appeal. One would have expected Vriksh Verma, raised in the small town of Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh, to follow the usual career path. But the seeds were sown early on when, as a kid, he was always to be found outside the classroom, participating in debates and sporting events. But for a while, he did what lakhs of others did: graduated as an electronics and communication engineer.
Bling and accessories too
But, after trying his hand at various engineering jobs, Vriksh finally decided to follow his heart, and in 2013, he started experimenting with interior designing. “I love grand spaces and design. A friend of mine, Sailex, who is also a celebrity designer, got me my first big project of doing the entire interiors for Foodmill, in Hauz Khas Village.”
Jittery initially, Vriksh took up the challenge and completed it with flying colours. “It was while designing Foodmill that I discovered my love for leather as a medium for design.”
Sailex generously encouraged him to explore his passion. He went beyond interiors, into bling and accessories too. “At that time, there were not many home grown labels for handbags and clutches. It was easy to penetrate the market by offering the best quality product. I put my aesthetic sense to use and employed the best craftspersons. Since then there has been no looking back.” The advantage of being a self-taught designer, according to Vrish, is that he gives free rein to his curiosity and experimentation.
One of a kind
“The only challenge, and one that I feel very strongly about, is safeguarding my original concepts. You see, the market ruthlessly replicates [other people’s work] at breakneck speed. We, as a brand, believe in slow, handcrafted, ethical fashion, and as such, our designs would never be 'fast' or cheaply made. While we are proud of this, we suffer when a lot of new 'brands' try to plagiarise our work. But maybe, as they say, imitation is the best form of flattery!”
Vriksh’s integrity and commitment have earned the trust of his customers and they have been very loyal to him. “My closest clients are the ones who have bought from me earlier. They know quality and original ideas when they see them. I personally make sure I keep them happy and ensure complete transparency in processes.”
All of his products are 100% handcrafted in his studio in New Delhi. Due to the unique nature and texture of leather, no two products are alike. In effect, that means that each offering is one of its kind. Vriksh himself is inspired by the late Alexander McQueen’s work. “His ideas are larger than life and do not shy away from bordering on otherworldly, even grotesque. I love the darker tones in his work.”
Extraordinary crafting talents
And, just like his designs, there are no two similar days at the Vriksh Verma office. In fact, most of his work days are spent on the road, looking for the perfect materials, fixtures, surfaces and inspirations. “Design and development are just a part of the big picture, and [this aspect] takes up about 60% of our studio time. The remaining time we spend updating ourselves with what's happening around us. I am blessed with a super-imaginative team and a set of extraordinary craftsmen who make our collective vision come to life. Hence, by supporting us, you support the diminishing, age-old tribe of hand-craftsmen of India.”
Summing up his serendipitous career, Vriksh says, “It has been quite a journey for me: coming from a small town in UP to this big, glamorous bubble that Delhi is. Being an outsider to the fashion and design world as well, I am really thrilled about how far we have come with our label in such a short span of time. We are very lucky to get so much love from our customers. I have no regrets about quitting engineering. Designing is what I wake up to every morning and what makes me happy.”
Eye on the global market
Having made a name for himself in India, Vriksh has his eyes set on the global market. He has been regularly showcasing his products at various international exhibitions and hopes to make a mark there too.
With grit, hard work and focus in his DNA, and a never-say-never attitude, he lives by the axiom, ‘Do your best, God will do the rest.’