When I last saw Shamma, in November 2011 in Mumbai, India, she caught up with me as I was having lunch at one of my favorite stores, Good Earth. We had not seen each other in a while since she had moved back to Mumbai the year before. We discussed her new business idea for a children’s line of clothing and accessories. Fast forward, a year and a half later, and she has not only launched her collection but it is now carried in the coolest spot for kids’ clothing: Bungalow 8 in Mumbai and two stores in New York City, YOYA and Lemonade. Shamma Fidaly was born in Madagascar, raised in Paris and educated in New York at Parsons. Her international background and work as a designer for various brands for twenty years prepared her well to launch her own line. She loves handcrafted textiles and found that living in India provides the perfect environment to find this type of work. The Spring – Summer 2013 collection presented by babalog makes extensive use of jamdani, an Indian brocade that is handwoven from fine cotton yarn. This weaving technique dates back to the 12th century in India and is incredibly time, labor and skill intensive. Unsurprisingly, jamdani fabric is one of the most sought-after artistic textiles in the world. Shamma herself divides her time between her former home, New York City, Mumbai and Paris where her family resides. As a result the collection is perfect for the mini jet-setter who travels between Paris, Goa or Istanbul. It features jamdani fabric handwoven and designed exclusively for babalog. The collection reflects Shamma’s mixed cultural heritage blending French and Indian influences into a chic, playful yet understated collection that remains comfortable and practical. Where does the name babalog come from you will ask? Well babalog is a noun. It is an Anglo-Indian turn of phrase and an affectionate term used for children. Etymologically speaking (if you really want to go there) baba = little and log = people, so little people. How cute is that?
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1. What do you love most about your job?
My creative freedom and the voyage of endless discovery.
2. If you did not live in Mumbai where would you live and why?
I guess New York where I don’t live anymore. Instead I call another manic island city -Mumbai, my home now.
3. When not working what do you enjoy doing?
Yoga and when I feel like treating myself, I submit to the whims of wanderlust.
4. What is your best memory from childhood?
One never realizes how precious childhood experiences are. My best memories are of long lazy afternoons in Madagascar – where innocence was cocooned within spectacular biodiversity.
5. What is your favorite holiday destination and why?
I don’t have a favorite holiday destination. It really depends on what sort of escape I am planning. My last holiday was at the fabulous Glenburn Tea Estate in Darjeeling – quite simply the most stunning place I have been to in India. The Himalaya does take your breath away !
6. Book or e-reader? Why and what are you currently reading?
I am still hooked on to books. I am currently enjoying The Harappa Files by Sarnath Banerjee. His illustrations combined with his wit makes it a must-read.
7. Which social media platform do you use and how did they impact your business?
I am loving Pinterest. I use it mostly to create my mood boards and get inspiration. Unfortunately, I am still not sure how it works from a business perspective.
8. What is a true luxury for you today?
That is such a philosophical question. Ultimately, true luxury is time.
But putting my creative hat on, I would say that artisanship from India is one of the true few luxury experiences in an increasingly commercialized world. It can be as simple as the feel of a jamdani sari against your body. Jamdani is Indian brocade that is handwoven from fine cotton yarn. This weaving technique dates back to the 12th century in Bengal, India and is incredibly time, labor and skill intensive. Unsurprisingly, jamdani fabric is one of the most sought-after artistic textiles in the world.
9. What is your biggest accomplishment to date? Why?
Accomplishment envisages pre-meditated action. I have always followed my passion – and have had a lot of fun along the way. Creating babalog – my line of kidswear has been particularly satisfying. The whole process of working with exceptionally talented weavers, dyers, jewelers and other artists – who channel training passed down through centuries – is an incredible experience. I can’t think any other place in the world where it can be replicated.
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