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Started Carpet Making Business At Home, Today Exports To 85 Countries, The Story Of The Rug Republic

Aditya Gupta’s parents started Sharda Exports in 1983 by carpeting at their home in Meerut. Today, it has an export business spread across 85 countries and has also started its ecommerce business.

Started carpet making business at home, today exports to 85 countries credityatra

Ever since he was growing up, Aditya Gupta remained a witness to the carpet industry. Her parents, JK Gupta and Meenakshi Gupta, started carpeting at their home in Meerut in 1983, when Aditya was studying in eighth grade. He joined Delhi-based business with his brother Ashish Gupta after completing his education from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee and Faculty of Management Studies (FMS). Later the company came to be known as Sharda Exports.

Since then the business has been steadily growing, Aditya says, “My parents worked hard to get something on the ground. They moved the business from zero to five, which is the most important phase. “

The business was selling to a large quantity in the domestic market. The opportunity to expand came when he got a chance to show his collection at one of the exhibitions in Germany, entering the global market in 1991. Aditya says that the beginning was small but still, it contributed significantly in the coming years. His first international clients include Swedish furniture giant IKEA and UK-based household goods brand Habitat.

Started carpet making business at home credityatra

Power of Branding

Even though the company has been operating for a long time, the year 2013 was a turning point when the company decided to leverage the power of branding. Between 2013–2014, the company was branded and renamed The Rug Republic. He says, “Branding becomes the holy cup for any manufacturer,” noting that branding not only adds value to the business, but also makes the business model a bit more secure.

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The company came up with catalogs and started creating content for its customers. He mentioned that “The handmade carpet industry is not so crowded with brands in India. If we consider ourselves right then we have an opportunity here.”

Today, The Rug Republic manufactures half a million carpets every year and exports to 85 countries around the world. Aditya has not disclosed the business, but says the company’s growth rate is about 20 percent year-on-year. The business has a specialty in Delhi stores and has more than 10,000 retail touchpoints worldwide.

Quality Carpeting

The main manufacturing unit of The Rug Republic is located in Meerut. It has also tied up with several units located in the Rug Belt of Panipat, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The business offers a mix of sustainable and other raw material options for the manufacture of carpets.

Aditya elaborated, “The manufacturing process begins with thread sourcing, and sometimes even before that. For example, for our PET (rug) range, plastic bottles are first converted to yarn through some chemical and mechanical processes. More than 300 plastic bottles are recycled to make a rug.”

Materials such as cotton and wool (used to make rugs) are also locally taken from farms and converted into threads.

He further states that recycled materials such as denim, silk sarees, etc. are sourced from all over the world, which are then cleaned, and made into carpets.

After the initial processes, the threads are possibly dyed in different colors. Meanwhile, a team of designers come up with innumerable designs. Rugs are then prepared using three main methods – hand knotted and hand woven. In the final stages, they are further eliminated after undergoing several quality checks, designs or other refinements.

Aditya says these carpets can generally be used for up to 10 years. Three factors affecting the durability of carpets include – cleanliness, a humidity-free and dust-free environment, and avoidance of wear and tear.

Indian Carpet Industry

India is known for its elegant craftsmanship, and for making sophisticated carpet designs. The industry also brings significant foreign exchange to the country. According to a report by research platform IBEF, Indian exports of carpets stood at $ 1.37 billion in FY15. India is home to many carpet companies including YAK, Saif Carpets, Insigne Carpets and Obeetee.

Aditya says that most of the company’s business comes from the international market, and only two percent comes from the domestic market. He added that the scale and opportunities in the global carpet market are “much larger than in the domestic market.”

Also he says that ironically in India, the country despite being a carpet-manufacturing center, still imports a lot of carpets.

He says, “The younger generation is not bothered about whether the carpet is handmade or not and whether it will last for 20 years.” He says that in today’s time carpet is a fashion item and consumers are fine with him which will last for one or two years.

“Most of the carpets are being imported from countries where they have been made using machines. Machine-made carpets are tough and do well in the Indian environment.”

In addition, the Covid-19 that brought the entire world to a standstill and disrupted businesses around the world also brought some forecasts for the company, particularly on the supply side – but overall demand has increased.

He says, “People are spending more time at home and that is why the entire epidemic situation has really given a boost to the domestic fashion business worldwide.”

Raghav Gupta, Director of Ecommerce, The Rag Republic credityatra
Raghav Gupta, Director of Ecommerce, The Rag Republic

Future Plans

Going forward, Aditya is betting big on the ecommerce business, which is being run by Raghav Gupta. Aditya’s son who joined the business earlier this year. Aditya predicts, “Ecommerce will expand our domestic business and there will also be a healthy push on profitability.” The Rug Republic is listed on Amazon, Pepperfry and some other marketplaces. It is also selling through its website.

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The father-son duo is also planning to expand business in the European market. They have already established an office in the Netherlands and are listed on local online platforms. Raghav is also creating an augmented reality platform so that consumers can see what a carpet (rug) looks like in their homes before purchasing.

Brand building and ecommerce will stabilize the business and boost its growth, Aditya concluded.

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