Not everyone gets an international award in their very first year of launch. Shivani Suhag’s brand new leather accessories label Avocadoe got off to a sparkling start when it won the 5th Annual Independent Handbag Designer Award in New York, soon after its launch in 2011.
She also bagged a six-month collaboration with American label Isabella Fiore selling through multi-brand retail outlets in New York and Los Angeles, before returning to India and starting her own studio in Delhi’s quaint Shahpur Jat market.
But before you rush to write it off as beginner’s luck, know this: Avocadoe won the Independent Handbag Designer Award in June 2017 for the second time and the winning bag was featured as the ‘it bag’ on fashion website instyle.com.
It’s obvious that there’s something very delicious about Avocadoe.
Brought up to enterprising parents – Shivani’s dad is ex-Army and now runs his own business; her mom has her own logistics company – Shivani completed her schooling from Delhi’s prestigious Vasant Valley School, and then headed to NIFT Chennai to study footwear and lifestyle accessories design. “They really make you work out there!” she laughs.
After a six-month exchange programme in the UK and a brief stint at an export house, she set off on her own. “Everyone advised me not to give up my stable job,” the 32-year-old smiles in recall. “But I wanted to do something of my own.”
Soon after her phenomenal first year as a bag designer, she headed to London to do her Master’s, leaving a strong team behind to take care of her production. On her return, she invested all her attention into her brand, working on developing its quality and unique hand-crafted, bright and funky character.
Most of her customers are expats who understand the value of quirky details and hand-made leather goods. “We do limited-edition pieces because we don’t want to kill the design in favour of mass production,” says the designer.
Priced in the range of Rs 5,000 to 35,000, the brand retails bags, small accessories, scarves and footwear from its online and offline store. Each piece, for example the ‘dhurrie and leather bag’, reflects the elements of its home country India: you’ll find the vivid colours of Indian textiles and time-tested weaves and fabrics.
Shivani handles all aspects of her brand’s production and marketing. “There will be lows when you’re an entrepreneur,” she admits, “But the key is not to give up; I have been consistent.” She’s in this for good, bag and baggage.
First published in the April 2018 issue of eShe magazine