Tell us a bit about yourself.
I did my masters from JNU in Spanish Languages, simultaneously learning French at Alliances Française, here in Delhi. However, realising the few career options available post that in India at the time, I decided to pursue an MBA from IMT, Ghaziabad, followed by a long career designing furniture and textiles for the international market. So I am a completely self-taught designer but with a dose that keeps me going.
How did Serendipity happen?
My journey to opening Serendipity happened totally by chance. Almost a decade ago, I landed in Morocco—in the middle of the night, finding myself alone in a country that was very new to tourism back then. As I walked through the narrow dark deserted lanes of Fez to my hotel—it was past 1 in the morning—with the cabby who offered to escort me as I wouldn’t have found it otherwise, I was quite nervous. But what awaited me as we rang the bell and the door was opened by this young American guy was worth all the effort. Dar Seffarine was a jewel in the middle of the old walled city of Fez...beautiful and just so breathtaking. Lovingly restored by Norwegian graphic designer Kate Kvalvik and her husband, Iraqi architect Alaa Said—it really felt like home away from home, and it had this amazing vibe which just embraced you instantly. I think this experience stayed with me, as it’s what really happened with our store Serendipity which launched in March 2014.
The haveli is in Jonapur, in Delhi's Chattarpur area in a village which unlike the so many urban villages of Delhi, is very calm and untouched. You need to drive up to it as there is very limited public transportation available. We were renting the space for a long time as did many others before us for our textile business, however when we first set our eyes on it 8 years ago we knew somewhere deep down what could come of the neglect the place had seen, with its age-weathered structure, large courtyard and big gates. The place was massive, a warren of tiny rooms and dug up central courtyard where trucks would roll in for loading and unloading (you should see pictures of the place before its transformation—quite unbelievable).
It didn’t happen for a long time as it was never a priority then, but having been in the textile and design world for the last 15 years, I just needed another creative outlet for myself. We decided to put to use our vision of years, of what this place could be turned into and pretty much gutted down the place leaving the structure intact. After more than a year of restoration, the haveli finally got back some of its lost glory. We thought of opening a regular store in it, but as we starting working on doing up the interiors, we realised the place could not be a regular store—it had to be something more.