While India was marking time for its concept of ‘leather care’, a young leader was brewing the framework.
Today, she proudly holds the label of being the pacesetter of Leather care centers in India.
Inspired by the aphorism of constantly striving to innovate and improvise,
Mallika Sharma cruised her entrepreneurial voyage, as a second-generation entrepreneur, with the embodiment of The Leather Laundry.
A post-graduate in Finance and Investment, Mallika signs in from a family of entrepreneurs.
His father, a first-generation entrepreneur, who has been the guiding light throughout her way to success, is the founder of one of India’s leading manufacturers and exporters of leather apparel and accessories.
A certified professional leather care technician, Mallika has trained with the globally reputed leather care company, LTT, United Kingdom, one of the most coveted leather care brands in the world today.
There she learnt everything, from adopting the best practices to clean and care for all types of leather to colour mixing, repairing and leather restoration and recolouring.
The Leather Laundry brought a paradigm shift in the Indian market and now, the country’s first-of-its-kind one-stop-shop for leather care needs.
Mallika’s entrepreneurial venture, The Leather Laundry offers professional cleaning, colouring, repairing and restoration services for everything leather- from your shoes to bags and garments as well.
Besides laundry services, the company also provides customization services including embossing of names, initials, one-liners etc.
The quality here is an expression of the team’s dedication and it is what, it takes pride in.
Let’s bask in Mallika’s entrepreneurial journey, through her words.
Tell us your story
The Leather Laundry is my brainchild! What floated as a casual idea over an evening coffee, soon started taking the shape of a full-blown venture.
Followed by a lot of thorough research and meticulous planning, The Leather Laundry was thus conceived.
“We are not a profit-hungry initiative! Our primary focus will always be to offer immaculate ‘quality’.
We are looking to cater to a niche segment of educated and discerning consumers who seek quality and practise ethical consumerism! We intend on building up a culture of leather care in India! We take absolute pride in restoring/preserving precious leather gear (of high sentimental value) from people’s grandparents’ time! We are not selling a service; we are selling a lifestyle :)”
What steps did you take to get things going in the beginning?
First things first, I had to work a lot to assemble the right team at all levels! I feel having a good team and the right talent onboard is sometimes more important than marketing and sales itself.
Once the team was in order, I worked towards direct forms of marketing to create brand awareness! I did not spend much on commercial marketing in the first few years at all! Growth was purely organic and through word of mouth! I guess a great service speaks for itself.
What has been the best moments in your professional life?
Some of the best moments would be people expressing their deepest gratitude for restoring items that they have an emotional attachment to! Getting big-ticket upholstery cleaning orders from 5-star hotels have also been great moments! Being featured in notable magazines like vogue and harper’s bazaar was also a wonderful feeling.
How different it is to be a woman in the business world?
I feel it is just a stereotype! Or maybe the nature of my business is such! I have not been taken seriously on account of being a woman both by my customers as well as my colleagues! I, however, this one time had a terrible experience working with someone who did not think much of me, owing to my gender! But outliers are always there! I feel a lot of men will also not be taken seriously or paid well if they don’t know their job. So, I believe competency and self-confidence matter more than gender!
Also Read: Young Leader Mallika Sharma: who gave India its first one-stop-shop for all its Leather, Suede and Fur care calls
What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
Hiring has been the biggest challenge! Hiring and retaining the right kind of people has been the hardest part of running my company! I guess experience gives you a heads up on this front as you learn to gauge and retain people well with time and through trials and errors! Managing a blue-collar workforce has also been a challenge! How I overcame this was to ensure that I always have a number 2 for each worker so that we are never short of staff during a peak season or if a worker leaves the job abruptly
Can you tell us about any habits you have/things you do, which set up success every day?
Absolutely! I start my day with a mix of yoga, breathing exercises and meditation for about half an hour! I then play tennis for one hour! This self-care routine gears me up for the challenges of a typical workday I also read god text for about half an hour before hitting the bed! I maintain a daily to-do list and plan my next day in the evening of the previous day itself! I seriously take time off work over weekends, to unwind and recharge myself.
What has been your greatest inspiration?
My father has been my biggest inspiration! He is a first-generation entrepreneur who started his own business from scratch! He is super successful yet the kindest and the most humble person I have ever known! He is always full of great vision and big dreams! He has always encouraged me to think big. My mother always envisioned her daughters to work well and be on their own feet! My mother has been way ahead of her times and she inspires me to be kind and to give something back to the community!
What advice would you give to aspiring business people?
I would give a few pearls of wisdom to aspiring entrepreneurs – forgiving, magnanimity in thoughts and deeds, humility, patience, no anger, no ego, no quitting – if one adheres to these simple of pearls of wisdom, they will win always!
What would you like to do in your free time?
Gardening, painting, connecting with near and dear ones, going for a walk in nature
Who were the mentors that encouraged you?
My father and my mother
What podcasts do you listen to inspire or learn from?
Business wars on Spotify, Sadhguru podcast
What impact do you want to have in the world?
I want the world to be a safer, kinder and a friendlier place to live in! I want people to be happy healthy and productive
When I face a big challenge, I sleep over it. Tomorrow is a new day, a new beginning
The most courageous thing I’ve ever done as an entrepreneur is…Accepted a big claim
If I could go back in time to when I started my business, I would tell myself, Rome was not built in a day. Also, to be more patient and accepting of other people’s imperfections
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is Never be intimidated if you feel you have not done anything wrong
My favourite business tool/resource/book/podcast is My notebook
My favourite quote is Challenges make life interesting; you have to be in it to win it
Why do we need code like #MeToo, #EqualPay for raising our voice as women?
Because of the long-existing inequality! I also feel that it’s very imp for women to speak up if they feel that there is any injustice happening.
Sadly, women are not socially conditioned to voice their opinions and have their needs met healthily!
Are there still any hurdles faced by today’s businesswomen?
Yes, I feel women are still not taken seriously, I still feel there is no parity in pay!
What are your plans?
I want to kill it at The Leather Laundry! I want to make it big in this space for the next 5 years and then plan an exit while being on the company’s board! I want to expand and scale up in terms of volumes, revenues, targeted geographies and service offerings.