In honor of Father’s Day, we sit down with N.K. Chaudhary, founder of the Chaudhary Family of Brands and world-renowned social entrepreneur, to get his words of infinite wisdom on Jaipur Living and Jaipur Rugs business practices, giving back to artisan communities through the Jaipur Rugs Foundation, and his hopes for the future for his five children.
You founded the idea for the Chaudhary Family of Brands—which encompasses Jaipur Rugs, Jaipur Living, and the Jaipur Rugs Foundation—more than four decades ago. What started as a humble operation with nine artisans on two looms in your family home has become an award-winning business with worldwide reach. What does that immense growth mean to you?
I started this business based on my passion. I didn’t do it for anybody but myself. It has helped me find the meaning of my existence. The growth, the revenues that we have achieved are a part of the business, but not the whole purpose. The purpose has always been to be happy and satisfied with whatever life brings along. The objective is to discover my inner self. Therefore, for me, the growth is just the byproduct of me living my journey wholeheartedly.
See also: In Conversation With Archana Chaudhary
Jaipur Living and Jaipur Rugs were built on the principles of dignity, fairness, and love, and that same ethos continues to drive the Chaudhary Family of Brands. How did your unique business model achieve such global success?
There are two kinds of businesses: One is driven by insecurity and inferiority complex and another is driven by compassion. The business that is driven by the insecurity of losing power, money, or profits gives rise to an environment full of commands and control. On the other hand, a business driven by compassion creates a collaborative and nurturing environment. All the success we have achieved is the result of this positive environment that we have built in our office and for our weavers in the villages in which we function.
Was there ever a time when you feared your business model would not be well received?
I have never feared anything that’s outside me. I have a strong belief that the only thing that can lead you to failure is yourself. All the strength and failures that I have come across in my life have been within me. When you are going through something, how you’re feeling inside matters much more than things that are happening in the outside world. So, honestly, how anybody would respond to my business model has always been the least of my concerns.
“Businesses will become whole through what they are missing: love, compassion, and healing. They are whole when the artisan and customer are connected, completing the ecosystem.” —N.K. Chaudhary, Chaudhary Family of Brands Founder
Artisans are the heart of the Chaudhary Family of Brands, with more than 40,000 weavers—85% of whom are women—across over 600 villages in India receiving a livable wage, access to health care, education opportunities, and leadership training schemes. How significant are those numbers?
Numbers don’t really matter to me. What matters is the value that is being added to an individual’s life through this business. Be it a weaver, an employee, or a customer for that matter, my aim is to offer something meaningful enough for them to add to their existence.
It’s never about the quantity, but the quality of the work. What difference does it make to one’s sensibilities and one’s quality of life holds much more significance than any number.
By employing so-called “untouchables,” setting a regular pay schedule for weavers, and removing the middleman from the businesses’ founding, you transformed the rug industry, and today, you are known as a social entrepreneur. What does it mean to bear such a powerful title?
Titles are something that pull you back in life. All the talk around brand names, titles, and the data about our impact puts me on a pedestal that I see as a barrier in life. These kinds of identities tend to create a false image inside a person’s mind that eventually leads toward self destruction. I try to save myself from it and work exactly the way I did in my initial days. I don’t see myself as some social entrepreneur or an industry leader, but just as a human being who wants to give back what he has earned from society. This is what makes me happy.
For more on Jaipur Living’s founding and principles, read our story.
As a father, what level of pride do you feel as you witness your children—all of whom are active participants in the Chaudhary Family of Brands—carry on your social and business legacies?
I am extremely proud of each one of them. Business skills can be acquired easily, but the values that they have acquired from me is what makes me the happiest. They are as grounded and connected to the grassroots as I am. They have been able to recognize and acknowledge my understanding of the grassroots and the people. I am eagerly looking forward to seeing them taking this legacy forward.
In 2008, your daughters Asha and Archana founded Jaipur Living—the Chaudhary Family of Brands counterpart in the Americas. What do you hope they will achieve as CEO and COO, respectively, of Jaipur Living?
Asha and Archana have both achieved great heights as CEO and COO of Jaipur Living. They have given shape to our global dream in the most beautiful manner. There’s nothing that I expect more from them in terms of business. On a personal level, the one thing I would love to see Asha working on is emotional intelligence. And for Archana, it is teamwork. Being an introvert, she prefers working and spending time alone. I would love to see her communicate more and give more time to the people around her.
What is the piece of advice you would give to any aspiring entrepreneur?
Not only to an aspiring entrepreneur, but to every person in the world, my one advice would always be to indulge in self introspection. The journey to know your inner self is the journey worth taking. Monitoring your own actions and working upon your flaws is of utmost importance. Self analysis is the ultimate key to growth—further leading to happiness.
“Just love what you do and the people involved. It is enough if you’re seeking peace and happiness in life.” —N.K. Chaudhary, Chaudhary Family of Brands Founder
Your positive impact on the rug industry is undeniable. What do you see for the future of human-centric businesses?
With the advent of artificial intelligence, humankind is moving toward a world full of machines. Everything a person uses their brain for would be done by machines and robots. In a world like this, any business with a touch of humanity would flourish left, right, and center. Creativity and empathy are two things that drive any business toward prosperity. Therefore, human-centric businesses are undoubtedly the future that we should collectively build on.