Monday, November 24, 2014

One chai-half-caf-triple-foam-hemp-latte please.

Just like in the western world, the people make the office. The people at Nest and Loom to Luxury are simply amazing. The crazy thing is that the outside world is as different as it possibly can be, but inside the office walls the drive, talent, creativity, and general conversations sound similar to that of a fashion firm in NYC.

The office is a short rickshaw or moto drive from my hotel. My hotel by the way is in Asi ghaat (main ghaat – or door to the river) on the Ganges and the views are impressive. Look past the cows, goats and monkeys and you have the holy Ganga.

Digressing. Back to the office.

It’s incredible what a global view the owner, Jitendra and the Nest consultant focusing on growing L2L into a sustainable business, Sara, have despite being thousands of miles away from their target customer. That’s not to say that everyone is yelling at the newest interns to get their half-calf-skinny-almond-latte-hold-the-foam starbucks orders (not familiar or anything, ha!), there are quite a few differences….

  • You must remove your shoes upon entering the office.
  • Chanting from the temple next door regularly disrupts meetings.
  • A very nice man serving chai and other goodies is bringing treats all day long.
  • The lot next door is not another fashion house but a huge empty lot that’s turned into a garbage dump where cows, pigs and dogs hang out.
  • Hand-woven silk is being hand-dyed in the room next to the meeting room.
  • Intricate silk prints are being hand sketched in the following room.
  • Lunch is eaten sitting on the floor and with your hands (still not very graceful with that)
  • Only two on the team (Jitendra and Sara) are college educated.

But once you see past these cultural details you see a dedicated and determined brand creating true luxury product to the tippy top of the luxury brand market. These silks are uniquely beautiful and of the highest quality. They are all hand-woven in a traditional way but the designers, weavers, consultants and owners want to be clear that they aren’t a one-trick “ethnic” pony and that they can compete with the western brands in the western world. An extremely difficult feat even for brands located a few blocks away from their target customers in NYC. But they can definitely talk the talk and they’ve done their homework. They are up to date on the industry’s latest (trends, collections, editorials, you name it) and their main work room is covered by a mood board modern and forward enough to rival any of it’s NYC/Parisian competitors. This team is definitely driven and has the talent to back it up.

I love getting these reminders/slaps in the face to just never judge a book by its cover or have a pre-conceived idea of what success looks like from the outside.

Just because you have a b*tchy scowl, perfected your air kiss, wear the perfect phoebe philo inspired normcore ponytail, and have a green juice in hand doesn’t mean you know what the beep you’re talking about, or that you’ll even make it in this industry for that matter. Barefoot and adorned in henna is looking a lot more like success to me these days.

PS hopefully going to the village to see the weavers at work today or tomorrow, so pics to come :)

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