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From Jaipur with Love

Posted by Scott James on

From Jaipur with Love | Living Deep

For Nitesh Chaudhary textiles are a way of life. As the current Director of Innovation at Jaipur Living, a family-owned textile manufacturing business, Chaudhary oversees technology and supply chain for the growing company which produces handmade, ethically made rugs as well as pillows, and home decor. For an ethically sourced luxury brand, scaling on a global level while maintaining ethical integrity is a difficult task, yet Jaipur Living’s  approach to growth has largely gone unchanged since the company's inception in 1978. Raised in Rajasthan, India, Chaudhary, the youngest of five siblings, would follow his father, Nand Kishore Chaudhary (founder of Jaipur Living), to rural areas of the country where he sought to expand the business by supporting small communities through recruiting and training individuals to become professional and financially dependent weavers of ethically sourced rugs. Jaipur Living’s approach to culture is rooted in community and focused on employee education and empowerment with an ethos they illustrate in one succinct statement, “Let love prevail in business, and success will follow.”  Through an operations model they have coined The Jaipur System, Jaipur Living has managed to vertically integrate their entire supply chain, a feat that is rare to see, especially in the rug weaving industry. Living Deep sat down with Chaudhary to discuss what it means to maintain a long-standing family business and what other growing companies can learn from Jaipur Living’s unique approach.

Ethically sourced wool being weighed for Jaipur Living hand woven rugs   Weavers of ethical handmade rugs who work from home in India
Ethical area rug by Jaipur Living in luxury living room   Ethically made rug with pattern of geometric shapes in rows   Ethical area rug by Jaipur Living in luxury dining room

LD: What is the most impactful memory you have of your father Nand Kishore Chaudhary (NKC)?

NC: I remember traveling to rural villages with my father when he was setting up the business and meeting the local people there. Before my dad went there other people told him, “don't go there because they (the local residents) don't like people from the city and they will just kill you if you go there.”  My father still had the courage and he went there and then understood clearly what the issue was. He realized that the reason they did not like people from the city is because anyone from the city who went there only exploited them. What my dad realized was these people, they need love. They need respect. They need dignity… So my father got right in the chain saying that, “I'm trying to build a business to feed my family but it's not at the cost to you… My family gets paid only when you make money.” That's our business model and over time we recruited over 10,000 people.

LD: Can you tell us how NKC’s employment of those who others deemed as  “untouchables” relates to the ethos of the company?

NC: Our company has an open door policy where people at all levels receive an equal level of respect. Every employee in our company has a chance to grow regardless of their background or academic qualifications... Sometimes in places where people used to have rug weaving skills and no longer do or if they have some hand skills but not for rug weaving, our foundation will partner with governments and other funding agencies to provide training to these artisans for weaving. It's usually a 4-to-6 month course. Once they do that, they get pretty familiar with rug weaving and then the business side of our company takes over to get the artisans involved in our  system whereby working for us they become financially independent.

LD: What is the ‘Jaipur System’?

NC: The Jaipur System is about connecting the artisans and the customer by eliminating all the middlemen in the process. With the Jaipur system what we like to say is that “the only thing that we do not own is the sheep”…We make our own fibers and it's all done by hand. So from that point all the way until the rug gets delivered to the customer's home, we are pretty much vertically integrated and we call it the jaipur system because we’re basically eliminating the middlemen in the supply chain. 

LD: What was the approach to scaling the business? And how has that changed now?

NC: We are working hard to preserve the 1,000+ years old art of rug weaving… Our production still pretty much operates the same way as it did 45 years ago when my father started the company. It’s still the exact same looms that we use and the exact same system. When he started he went into people's homes and that's where the looms were set up. And even today all of the products we are known for are still made in people's homes. I would say the only thing that has changed from 40 years ago to today is that before my father started with two looms and now we have a few thousand looms.

LD: What do you cherish the most about being part of a family-run business?

NC: The business is part of our lives and all of us have seen the business grow over the past few decades. The love and care that we share in the family is the same way we operate the business.  

LD: What does Living Deep mean to you? 

NC: Living deep to me means living life with a purpose.

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