Vidhu Purkayastha: It’s all in the bag

Vidhu Purkayastha, director, Viari
Vidhu Purkayastha, director, Viari

Who doesn’t love classic, well-made handbags? Shopping for handbags is a very intimate experience for a woman. It’s almost erotic. After all, a woman’s handbag is something that defines her, turns her on. Something that stays close to her body, something that fits in her arm like a lover, something she can slip her hand into and find nirvana.

Forgive us, we digress. But a browse through the Viari website would take anyone into fantasy-land. So enamoured were we of these sleek leather beauties that we decided to get to the root of the matter and speak to the woman at the top herself. She’s Vidhu Purkayastha, director and co-founder of Viari.

Born and brought up in Delhi, Purkayastha studied at Lady Irwin School during its prime. “You can imagine how we thrived in that environment by just extending one thought process – we did not have a school uniform imposed on us so we ‘could bloom like colourful flowers and butterflies’ in our principal’s words!” she recalls. Realizing she wasn’t good enough for the usual medical or engineering courses or cut out for the hard work required for pure sciences, she went in for Statistics Honours from Hindu College, Delhi University, followed by post-graduation in Operational Research. “It suited me just fine with the right mix of academics, friends, college and other avocations.”

Sailors Kit NaturalWith family experience in exporting to the quality-conscious European market for 25 years, Viari the retail brand was launched in June 2013 with the idea of bridging global and Indian sensibilities. UK-based designer Silas Grant has collaborated with the production team in Chennai, India, to bring out eight collections launched so far. “Each collection echoes the ethos of the place the collection is named after. The oh-so-cool Santorini conjures the Mediterranean and as does the suave Wall Street for the alpha man,” says Purkayastha. “Colours, neat lines, absence of bling, high selection of leathers with nickel-free trims and the ability of a work bag to morph into a day or evening bag is the USP of our brand, which lives up to the promise of its tagline ‘works for me’,” she adds.

Okay, enough of the brand, let’s find out more about the woman.

Top item on the morning’s to-do list?
Translate a to-do list on paper which starts forming in my subconscious even before waking up! The thrill of striking off a job done gives me a high.

EOD hobbies?
Music and books are like water and breathe for me. Spending time with family is food for my soul.

Books at your bedside:
Business Sutra by Devdutt Patnaik, Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, and Revisiting Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, depending on my mood.

Yo mama always said:
My mother was my Osho and Gandhi all rolled into one. I never had to look outside for inspiration. It is difficult to quote just one bit of advice!

Backpack Bag Green FVSpecial daddy moments:
The video my sister captured recently on her phone when he received my letter! He wasn’t aware that her camera was on and it’s a documented evidence of his gamut of emotions. It moves me to see that our parents are so happy with even the littlest we do for them.

When work and family pull you in opposite directions, what do you do?
Aah, my Indra Nooyi moment! I let the priority at that point of time take priority. Also help is always at hand — husband on one and son on the other!

Marriage is…
… what two companions build.

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