Deepa Lakhani stepped into the big bad world of entrepreneurship with her husband Jay Lakhani as a young woman fresh out of design school. With manufacturing in India, an office in New York and retailing around the world, the process of creating the brand has been a journey uniquely her own. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we spoke to Deepa about what it means to a woman finding and establishing herself in the world as a person, designer and entrepreneur.
What is the significance of International Women’s Day to you?
In an ideal world, we would not have a special day set to celebrate women, because that would be happening everyday. Unfortunately, we live in an unequal society and it is important to have this day set aside to recognize all that has been achieved in the journey of equality for women, which is of course far from over.
What have been your biggest challenges as a woman entrepreneur?
I work in an industry where mainly everyone I interact with including the embroiderers and manufacturers are men. In a country like India, as in many parts of the world, a woman in a place of authority is not taken seriously. You have to work that much harder just to have yourself heard.
How would you describe the Deepa Gurnani woman?
As a deeply spiritual person, I resonate with the qualities of a woman who is free spirited, well read, thoughtful in her choices, travels the world and understands the importance of accessories that makes a statement while also being comfortable, long lasting and lightweight.
Who are biggest female idols in fashion and otherwise?
Marchesa Luisa Casati has been my biggest idol. I admire her for always having the guts to express herself and having a mind of her own. Oprah is someone who has always been an inspiration. Also I feel, Melinda Gates and her partnership with Bill Gates brings so much positive change in the world.
What advice would you give to young budding female entrepreneurs and designers?
Always believe in yourself and do not give up. As a woman your journey will be more complicated but you have to keep going.
What does femininity mean to you?
It means power to me. In fact, the Hindi word for the female divine energy is Shakti which literally translates to power. The fact that a woman can nurture life and give birth is the most powerful thing.