With her eye set on the pulse of Indian design, 30-year-old Palak Shah presides over one of the most meticulously curated luxury brands in India: Ekaya. Over the last decade, Ekaya has grown to become synonymous with silk rooted in the culture and customs of Banaras. And while the brand’s ever-growing journey may seem refreshingly lucid, it is behind the scenes where Palak is perennially caught in the juggling act of being a young entrepreneur.
We spoke to her on a particularly busy Thursday morning about how a striped co-ord set from November Noon ended up with her in Maasai Mara and why her first love for silk has roots deeper than it may appear on the onset.
You Didn’t Have A Typical Meet-cute With November Noon. Was Your First Encounter Exciting?
It was! I first came across the brand when it was in the flux of being conceptualized. I love buying local but, I don’t necessarily want to look like that. I like to carry a little bit of India wherever I go, which shouldn’t always translate to standing out in a sari when it’s not required. November Noon (NN) fits the bill there!
Is there a piece from NN you can’t part with?
It would be the striped pant and halter neck co-ord set. I was carrying it with me on my holiday in Maasai Mara. It fit so well with the landscape and the culture there. I ended up wearing it again in Delhi. It’s beautiful yet versatile
Your style seems classic with no frills. How would you describe it?
I love to stand out in basics but always put an element of surprise to it.
Are there any clothes in your closet you’re more partial to?
All the pieces from Ekaya. I love hand-me-downs too, so many of my dad’s shirts and mum’s saris are very precious to me.
Do you have an eternal-style muse(s)?
Princess Diana. I love how Victoria Beckham dresses up. I like Olivia Palermo’s style. From the Gen Zers, I think Hailey Bieber dresses up well.
Speaking of style, can we rewind a bit and ask you about your very first tryst with silk?
Deepak kaka’s (the founder of November Noon) factory was close to our home. That’s where I collected katrans and used them to dress my barbies. In my adult life, it was the first time I wore a sari from Ekaya. It was a pink sari with a green blouse. I was scared but the minute I draped it, it felt like second skin. I felt a lot more beautiful and empowered than I feel in my usual clothes.
You have a life-long relationship with silk. Are there any myths associated with it that you would like to bust?
That it’s a winter fabric. That it’s heavy. It requires a lot of maintenance. It’s very Indian. All wrong.
Let’s talk a little about Ekaya. How do you see its future?
I started Ekaya at 21. Now, I’m all of 30. We’ve both come out of our cocoon and evolved together. As far as the future is concerned, I want to see it on the global luxury map. I want to launch an international store and create India’s very first global luxury brand.
If given a do-over, would you pick an alternate profession?
Growing up, there were many things I dabbled in. In class 10 I wanted to be a computer engineer. There were points in my life when I wanted to be a lawyer or a detective. I do want to start mentoring young entrepreneurs and help them set up their businesses. But, Ekaya is my true calling. There’s nothing else I’d rather do.