Designer Monica Shah founded the Chanakya School of Craft to help “empower women from underprivileged backgrounds with the right resources, knowledge, and skills, as well as to help sustain Indian arts and crafts”.
She hopes to pass unique arts and crafts to the future artisans of India, while also helping them sustain it and forge viable livelihoods out of it.
IANSlife in a conversation with Shah, co-founder of label Jade which recently opened a new store in Los Angeles:
Q: Why did you think of opening a store in LA amid the pandemic?
A: We have always had an international clientele, mostly from the US. Over the course of the past few years, we realized there was a greater need to bring the JADE experience to these brides, closer to where they are, rather than having it entirely online or them having to fly down to Indian just for their bridal ensembles. It’s one key step towards being a truly global brand. We felt like LA was a great location to start off. And we also found the perfect team in LA to represent our brand.
Q: How do you aim to support Indian craftsmanship?
A: Celebrating and sustaining Indian crafts and techniques have always been at the heart of all the work we do. We believe that each of us, no matter where in the world we are, are ambassadors of India’s artisanal heritage and custodians of craft.
We make sure our ensembles are crafted using traditional techniques by hand and adapted to the modern perspective, to show that these crafts may be traditional but they’re still very relevant.
Q: Tell us about Chanakya School and the work Jade does.
A: Two years ago we opened an NGO/a one-of-a-kind school called the Chanakya School of Craft to help empower women from underprivileged backgrounds with the right resources, knowledge, and skills, as well as to help sustain Indian arts and crafts. The school is a very special thing for us. We hope to pass the torch of our country’s unique arts and crafts to the future artisans of India, while also helping them sustain it and forge viable livelihoods out of it.
Q: What’s the theme and thought behind your latest collection?
A: JADE’s latest collection is called ‘Shubhra’ and is inspired by heirloom silver. The ensembles carry a soft ethereal silvery sheen that’s equal parts elegant and glamorous, without being too over the top. The collection is perfect for the modern bride as it brings together contemporary as well as traditional aesthetics. We’ve used regal yet elegant colours like Blush Pink, Champagne Gold, Pewter, Aegean Blue, and Garnet Red. The inspiration behind the collection is silver and its versatility. We have always been fascinated by silver crafts done by the communities in Kutch and Rajasthan. So much so that it’s become a part of our personal style too. We wanted to celebrate this magical beauty of silver through couture.
Q: Twelve years in the industry, how has your journey been?
A: It has been an incredible journey. We have learned so much, grown so much, adapted to and thrived through an unprecedented time, and still have a long way to go! We’re very excited to see where this journey leads us!
Q: Any expansion plans?
A: We have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline. We can’t wait to announce it at the right time!