SELLING paper bags may not have sounded like a great business idea to many five years ago, but Kamal Kapoor instinctively jumped into it. Kapoor, who had a steady advertising and event management business, had always been interested in the packaging industry. But his decision to actually switch over happened when close friend, Vinay Chopra, of the well-known Bandra-based Casuals boutique, mentioned that he preferred paper to plastic bags at his store.
"Vinay wanted to give his customer somethin classy, environment-friendly and reusable; after all a bag is a mobile advertisement for its store. He showed me a few bags given away by foreign brands and said he'd been looking around for someone who would manufacture something similar for him in India."
Kapoor, who known a good opportunity when he sees one, immediately set about gathering information about the industry and within a few months, Ecosense, his very own paper bag factory was set up. And though he wasn't the first to manufacture paper bags in the city he is definitely a veteran in the business. Today his clients include lifestyle stores and well-known brands like Levis and pape.
What started off in the West as a trend to promote fashion labels has now become a virtual style statement in India. Reusing paper bags, especially those that flash brand names, is something every discerning shopper does - there's no room for plastic here. Wannabes who want to be perceived as environment conscious are those who have made the conversion to paper. The recent anti-plastic brigade has also served to heighten awareness of consumers and retailers alike to the environment-friendly nature of paper bags--and increased business for Kapoor.
Sitting in his 5,000 sq. ft. office cum factory at Chembur today, kapoor is a man with a mission: his aim is to brings down the increased production.
His factory currently manufactures nearly 5 lakh bags a month--all painstakingly handmade. But after a recent trip to Japan, Kapoor has ordered for a new machine that will help him take that number to 25 lakh a month. According to him, a plastic bag costs Rs six whereas a paper one, Rs four so finding new customers shouldnt be hard.
"Four years back we couldn't dream of selling paper bags for Rs four or even replacing plastic. Tomorrow we'll see people carrying vegetable in brown bags,' he promises.
Courtesy: The Times of India
Date: 3rd October 2001.
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