We interviewed our friend, collaborator and founder of Lekha, Trishala Bhansali. Explore our newest Travel Pouch to experience Lekha for yourself.
What inspired you to create Lekha?
When I was a kid, I used to design a lot of my own clothes, traveling fabric stalls with my dad in Mumbai and working alongside our family tailor to make a vision come to life. It was something that brought me joy, but certainly not something I ever thought I’d make into a career. After a decade in New York working in fashion and textiles, largely with Indian vendors, I decided I wanted to be closer to family, the New Orleans community, as well as learn more about my heritage in India. It prompted me to quit my job and take a year exploring craft traditions in India. Once that began, I was introduced to so many incredible organizations that inspire and empower - and knew it was something I wanted to advocate for.
How do your inspirations from New Orleans and India present themselves in your work?
Predominantly, the climate of both worlds lends itself to easy, soft, and lightweight fabrics. I knew I wanted to work with handloomed mulmul, a fabric I remembered with fondness from my youth in India. It is featherweight, but has durability and really lasts. With each season, Lekha has incorporated more patterns, textile variations, and color, largely because I am continually exposed to the mecca of sensory inputs in both locations. Lastly, I am constantly inspired by my community, what they’re wearing, and how they respond to my clothes - and as such, design accordingly!
What do you want to be remembered for?
I named my company after my trailblazing grandmother, and I’d love to see her legacy continue in future generations.
What were some of your challenges in the beginning and how have you grown from them?
Managing production and logistics overseas was definitely the biggest obstacle starting out. Coming from a corporate fashion background where deliveries adhered strictly to a traditional retail calendar, I felt that my collections needed to arrive within certain time frames, and didn’t quite understand all that went into designing, sampling, and producing a season. Countless sleepless nights leading up to high-spring and fall would have me feverishly texting my partners at three and four AM asking for tracking numbers. It continues to be a point of frustration sometimes, but during the pandemic we realized that Lekha is seasonless for the most part, and the fluidity and flexibility of deliveries with our workshops is part of the way we operate. I know that I can’t micromanage everything, and having patience is part of the collaborative spirit of my artisan partnerships.
If we were to take a trip to India, where would we go to experience the rich culture that inspired Lekha?
Number one on my list for first time visitors is Jaipur. You get heritage, you get color, you get architecture and design, plus some of the best shopping that India has to offer. The colors of Jaipur are definitely inspirational, and, unpopular opinion, I absolutely love wandering the market stalls during the dry heat there before summer. Between City Palace, Amer Fort, Rambagh, and Hawa Mahal, Jaipur is a feast for the senses, and you can easily spend a week there soaking up everything that it has to offer.
What are some of your favorite ingredients to cook with in your perfect meal?
Fun question! I can never have enough cumin. I put cumin in EVERYTHING - Indian food (obviously), American, Mexican - you name it. Other favorite ingredients are avocado and feta. Not as versatile, but I do incorporate them a lot when I’m preparing a meal for friends or family. And I LOVE dill.