If you’re in India and can even mildly relate to the idea of traveling like a local or collecting actual travel experiences instead of photos for your Instagram, chances are that you’re already very much familiar with White Collar Hippie.
White Collar Hippie is a one-of-a-kind company that offers alternative travel experiences and aims to take the tourism out of travel. One fine summer evening we caught up with Vikrant Chheda – the brain behind the brand that’s quenching everyone’s wanderlust, on his journey so far.
“I wanted to change the way people planned their trips, get them out of their comfort zones and discover something new about themselves,” says Vikrant. As most great ideas do, White Collar Hippie was also started purely as a passion project. Vikrant explains, “I realised how much the trips I took in my life changed the way I looked at a lot of things, be it business, the idea of profits and the meaning of success. I found that after every big trip there was a big change in how I looked at every relationship. That was the idea behind White Collar Hippie – to facilitate these kinds of experiences for others.”
What started off as a fun project, grew bigger organically. The next obvious step for Vikrant was to turn this into a full-time venture. But, what truly sets White Collar Hippie apart? He shares, “It is unique because our experiences and ideas come from very unique people. For us, it’s not about the right package, cheap deals or seeing everything a place has to offer. It’s about seeing a place from someone’s personal perspective – whether that’s a local or someone who shares a special connection with a place. You’re able to experience a place more than just as a tourist.” Surely, turning a passion into something full-time and sustainable comes with its own challenges. Vikrant agrees, “The greatest challenge is to turn your idea into something of which you can make a livelihood. We have to constantly focus on maintaining the balance in the things we do and whether they align with the brand’s core values and ethos". So, how does he stay on track? “It’s all about experimenting and constantly evolving from what worked and what didn’t,” Vikrant shares, elaborating on White Collar Hippie’s most successful project – BandCamp, “Bandcamp was started to build and maintain a continuous and lasting relationship with our audience. We found that while we planned only big trips, the gap between one person taking two trips with us was as long as a year. We wanted to engage with them regularly, and that’s how the idea of hosting overnight camps just outside Mumbai was born.” Today, Bandcamp has grown to become a self-sustained model that’s doing better than all of WCH’s trips combined. It also gives Vikrant plenty of breathing room to innovate with the bigger trips.
Speaking of, how does a guy who helps everyone unwind for a living, really unwind? “It’s a mix of things – I usually take off on solo trips. If I’m in the city, what I do when I meet my friends matters – because you can’t build great experiences and relationships out of doing the same thing every time. So, we attend a great gig, go bowling or stay in for a night of board games.,” Vikrant muses.
Where does wellness and skincare fit into Vikrant’s on-the-move schedule? “Skincare is something I want to do, but unfortunately never end up doing!”, he grins, “but my mom is always experimenting some home remedies on me. Her most popular one is rubbing Aloe Vera gel on the face.” Given Vikrant’s schedule and lifestyle, he prefers keeping things simple, minimal and fuss-free. He says, “The only thing I manage to do diligently is use a face wash. So, I make sure I use one that can multitask – reverse sun damage, deep clean, moisturise etc.” Vikrant also believes in the power of a good facial, “I try to get a deep cleaning facial at least once every two months!” And of course, the ultimate superfood – WATER, “It’s the only thing I do. And it has helped my skin and overall health!” he grins.
Skincare, for far too long and most unfortunately, has been seen as feminine activity. But, is it reserved only for the women? His reply is thoughtful, “I think men today have become more aware of skincare. Now, it’s become a part of presentation and grooming. Your skincare routine tells a lot about your personality and how you want people to perceive you.” Now there’s a thought we can get behind.