Welcome to the Emirates Man weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businessmen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.

This week we chat with Gautam Sinha, CEO and Creative Director of Nappa Dori, a leather good accessories brand that has taken fine craftsmanship to the next level. With nostalgic influences, the brand first opened its doors in Delhi and has now expanded to the UAE, in Dubai’s most creative hub at Alserkal Avenue.

With an array of leather goods including laptop bags, wallets, card holders, handbags and more, customers can craft their own bespoke item with the brand’s special engraving facilities.

To enhance the shopping experience, guests can also take a break at its Pan-European Café, Café Dori, which is inspired by French, English and East European cuisines, which is reflected in the menu and ambiance. There is an extensive menu for coffee lovers alongside iced and hot teas, kombucha, fresh juices & smoothies. It’s a pet-friendly café offering specially prepared food treats for dogs.

Known for its fine attention to detail, the brand has levelled up with its contemporary designs over the years and to delve into Sinha’s entrepreneurial success story, Emirates Man speaks to him.

What was your favorite subject in school?

I am severely dyslexic, hence anything visually stimulating used to always work for me. That’s why Geography used to be my favourite subject as I used to love looking at maps and weather systems. Anything that I could visually read was easy for me.

What was your first job?

My first job was to design Christmas ornaments, I did that for about two years, designing Christmas hangings for trees and other products mainly for the German market and absolutely loved it. I think Christmas is still my favourite time of the year.

What brought you to Dubai?

I feel the rapidly evolving design and cultural scene in Dubai is something that’s so fascinating and is not happening anywhere else in the world. One cannot be in design and ignore the Middle East and dubai is the pulse of the region.

What inspired you to get into the leather space and launch Nappa Dori?

The plan was not to get into the leather space, that just happened by chance, I was asked by someone to design leather belts for a Danish company and once I ended up doing the project, i absolutely fell in love with the material and how versatile it was. Nappa Dori happened years later as I was tired of designing for other people and wanted to do something that was truly my own creation and not a morphed version of something I wanted to do and something the client expected of me.

Talk us through the inspiration of the pieces.

I am a strong believer in timeless design and something that carries a nostalgic value to it. We at nappa dori have always played with classic silhouettes and the charm of travel, hence all the collections are in a way inspired by those elements.


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What are the key elements of your role ?

Well, when you are bootstrapped with a small business I guess you cannot really define a role, I am the creative head and every other role that comes my way, may it be designing the product, the language of the store and its visual representation, to doing the accounts at the end of the day, but the one thing I love about having your own business is that you have no one else to blame then yourself if you fail.

Nappa Dori

Talk us through your daily routine ?

Once thing I can say with definite confidence about my daily routine is that coffee is a big part of it. Coffee is the first thing I have once I get up, it’s the perfect kickstart to the day, and then once at work it’s mainly looking at how the new collections are shaping up, we are constantly creating new things, so there is always something new landing up on my table. One day it might be a bag collection and the same afternoon I might be looking at cafe menus and having meetings with the chefs. I feel the most boring part of the day for me is always taking account of sales or accounts. But I guess one needs to wear that hat as well if you really need to be commercially viable.

What advise do you have for someone looking to follow in your footsteps?

If I have to just give one piece of advice, that would be, that ignorance is really bliss, don’t over analyse your every more, go ahead and do things, most people fail before they even try out things in their lives, so make those mistakes, and trust your instinct. If I had listened to people around me, I wouldn’t have been able to create what I did, all logic said do not go down that road. But then again, what most do not realise is you are not going down any road but creating your own path.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

My elder brother once told me, “ if you are the smartest man in the room, you are in the wrong room”. Don’t be complacent and always look at surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you, it’s the best way to learn.


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A post shared by Nappa Dori (@nappadori)

What is the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

I would say educating the customer to understand the brand and the product. When you are trying to create a new segment in the market It’s always the most challenging part of the process.

What are the future plans for the brand?

Nappa Dori has grown over the past decade, from a leather goods brand to a lifestyle offering, we have a cafe now, and an experiential center, I feel the future is super exciting for us, as I would love for the brand to make its Foray into the hospitality segment. And make it a complete experience, where you have an immersive experience.

In addition to having flagship locations in India, the UAE, and the UK, Nappa Dori now sells its products online and through a number of renowned design retailers, including Fortnum & Mason, the Conran Shop, Selfridges along with its outlets in London,

For more information visit nappadori.ae

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Images: Supplied