Jungle Book Knox Kids Bed by Takshaka
Jungle Book Knox Kids Bed by Takshaka

The shape of simplicity

Jaipur-based furniture designer Bhalendra Gupta launches a new collection for children.

You read about older people having interesting second careers post-retirement or middle-aged people suddenly feeling the need for something eadically. But what do you say about a farming consultant-turned-furniture maker, who is all of 29? We’d say he’s enterprising, creative and doing rather well in his second innings.

After getting a Master’s degree in Agriculture in 2018, Jaipur-based Bhalendra Gupta was working with local farmers, helping them improve their practices and output. But then, a volleyball injury prevented him from going into the field: an impediment for anyone associated with farming.

Looking around for an alternate career, Gupta got interested in furniture. “Though Rajasthan is full of manufacturers making solid wood furniture, the products invariably go out of the state. In Jaipur, all I could find was furniture made of plywood and fibreboard or bulky, old-fashioned wooden pieces. I didn’t want either, and I knew there were others like me. So, I decided to get into the business myself. I tried trading first, but it didn’t work. Then, I changed track and set up my own manufacturing unit. I had a little money saved from my farming days; my father, who is a government servant, also chipped in, and I started my business with Rs 5 lakh.”

Starship shelf by Takshaka
Starship shelf by Takshaka

Gupta’s initial clients were all exporters. That worked well for him, as it gave him an appreciation and understanding of quality and put him in touch with vendors selling raw material. But less than two years later, the pandemic struck. The exporters disappeared, leaving him with a huge inventory. “Online selling was the only option. I managed to offload most of my stock on Amazon and Flipkart.”

Though it was scary, the experience made Gupta confident that there was a market for his products. Once the second wave of Covid was over, he established his own brand Woodworm, and started retailing from his website. All the furniture was made in-house.

All the pieces have straight legs and clean lines and are made of rosewood, acacia or mango wood. The simple, functional designs give the furniture an almost Scandinavian aesthetic. But the only foreign component is the Malaysian cane that Gupta loves for its “small weave and neat look”.

The quality and workmanship aside, Woodworm’s big selling point is its competitive pricing. “We set out to provide clients with quality products at honest prices. And we’ve succeeded. We don’t cut corners, use shoddy material or tolerate poor workmanship. Instead, we look for innovative ways to offer more value,” says Gupta.

The entrepreneur’s newest offering is the Jungle Book range of children’s furniture, under the Takshaka brandname, which Gupta uses to sell eco-friendly home and kitchen products. This is a personal venture for the entrepreneur: his designers created a baby chair and rocker when his son was born. He loved both and decided to create a full line for kids. “We decided to create all the pieces in mango wood. It’s a soft wood, which is light in colour and doesn’t need polishing. That makes it perfect for children,” explains Gupta. It took more than a year for the company to design, test and create the full range, and the first sale happened in December 2023.

Bhalendra Gupta in his Jaipur factory
Bhalendra Gupta in his Jaipur factory

So far, the line has only 20 products. There are cute chairs (with bunny ears and bear faces), bookshelves shaped like a rocket, beds with Mickey Mouse headboards, toy chests and table chair sets. But Gupta has big plans for the line.

He could be right. January 2024 saw a lightning order from Jamnagar for 40 tables and 80 chairs. He made the delivery in 10 days. The orders haven’t stopped coming since.

The New Indian Express