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NAYALI - Out of Africa

Posted by Shilpa Rajpara on

The concept of NAYALI started in Mombasa, Kenya in 2012.  We were on a family trip to Africa. My father was born in Mombasa, but hadn't been back there in 42 years.  We had always heard stories of his upbringing in Kenya. However our winter breaks and summer vacations ended up with my mother's side of the family in India.  So it was a special experience to spend time in Africa with my dad, and my whole family.

We got to know the place in which he had his childhood. The stunning vast landscapes, the food stalls (now taken over by the 2nd and 3rd generations of the original owners) where he used to eat, the bays in which he swam every morning before school with the great white sharks (not out of being bold, but more out of ignorance), seeing his old home, and watching him speak in his mother tounge. Finding your roots is transformative. 

The place I was most excited to see was where my family's old shop, Mayfair, used to be. My Grandfather had left Africa for Europe during the war. He traveled and adventured, and along the way learned the classic art of European tailoring. When he returned to colonized Kenya, this skill set afforded him to start Mayfair, an upscale clothing store in Mombasa.  The business employed much of the family in Africa and created stability. Years later, when my grandfather, "Dada," migrated to the US in the late 1970's, this same set of skills allowed him to build his version of the American Dream. He worked as a pattern maker at a Uniform factory: he cut, he sewed, he tailored, he created. I was always infatuated at a young age on what projects he would be making next. 

So on this trip to Africa, it was amazing to see where the passion for art and design in my family first came to fruition. I felt connected to Kenya. The culture, the people, the humor, the kindness. I had never been there before, but I knew a part of my of heart was there.  

On this same trip, we went to the nearby Nyali Beach. I loved the name. I started doing some research and found in different cultures it means things like, "Love or I love You" & "Femininity" & "Courage". It was perfect. It was going to be my future baby name. But as I started development for this line, I knew the name had to be given to this brand I was building: NAYALI, meaning feminine courage. 

Though it is a fashion brand, my concept and messaging has always been about acceptance. Accepting the body you are given, and taking good care of her. Accepting the life you have, and living in it fully. Accepting the places you come from, but knowing you have the freedom to choose where you go. Accepting the person that you are, and knowing that you control your own story. No one should set your standards. Have the feminine courage to set your own destiny. 


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