Anita Lal is founder and creative director of Good Earth, a luxury home decor company. She is also the co-founder of Paro. She speaks to Guardian 20 about her career and inspirations that drive her creativity.
Q. What helped shape your creative tendencies?
A. I actually don’t like to talk about myself. I find it a bit awkward. The thing that pushed me to do what I do today was the love of my country and the land that we have received. I was midnight’s child. I grew up with my father teaching English to young cadets at the National Defence Academy (NDA). He was also a visiting professor at Harvard University. I did my Masters in psychology in fact.
Q. You opened the first Good Earth store in 1995 at Kemps Corner, Mumbai. Today it is a global “Made in India” brand. Tell us about its journey.
A. It was interesting how the first Good Earth store opened in Mumbai. The property belonged to a friend and he offered my husband to put his bikes in the showroom. I jumped in impulsively and asked my husband if I could use a little corner. I had been travelling internationally a lot with my husband and had been to a lot of various beautifully presented and showcased stores. What came to my mind at that point was that it should be an experience unforgettable when you enter a store. It wasn’t necessarily about buying though. And even though I have a very indulgent and supportive husband, I did not have a business plan at that time. It unfolded and Kemps Corner store is magical even today. 24 years ago it was first-of-its-kind.
Q. Good Earth is appealing in its reach and offerings. Where do you derive your source of inspiration and artistic ethos?
A. Rumi is my guiding light. One of his sayings defines me: “I want to sing like the birds, sing not worrying who listens and what they think.” This is my guiding principle. For me it’s about research, research and more research…from anywhere and everywhere. I look at our country, I look at Soneva Maldives, I look at the Silk Route, which serve as sources of inspiration. The Himalayas and their beautiful flowers, Garden of Kashmir, the whole Deccan, Golkunda. We visit, we pick up patterns and design elements from each place. We actually get into the details of its history, culture and craft. We then take out a comprehensive design journal as well, of each collection that we have done.
Q. You started Paro along with your daughter Simrin. How has that experience been?
A. My daughter Simrin and I share the same values, aesthetics, concerns, feelings and excitement of the cultural design and heritage of India. Paro is about Ayurveda, Vedanta, spirituality, tantra and the sharing of knowledge. With the workshops we bring to life monthly at our store, this has been Simrin’s baby. She wanted a space where we could engage in talks and discourses of our civilisation, culture, heritage and explore our roots at every level. My love in Paro is botanical. And at Paro it is about the purity of materials we offer, ranging from saris, fabrics, brassware, pillows, bed covers, cushions etc.
Q. You are a woman with an iconic career. Share your words of wisdom with us.
A. The most important thing is that you have to clear your intent. Must be a no agenda one and pure. Everything starts with your intent and then the universe finds a way to help you out. The opportunities start coming to you and you must allow it to flow. I also feel strongly that we owe a lot of debt and gratitude to our ancestors. We must be aware of our civilisation and our roots. The wisdom of our Vedas, Ayurveda and Buddhist thoughts are what has guided us and we need to take it forward. It’s very important to embrace our heritage.