Pratiti basu Sarkar
Face behind: CIMA Design, on the fourth floor of Forum at Elgin Road.
Credentials: No formal training in design but an “arty atmosphere” since childhood “trained” her eyes well.
How it came about: “We found that a limited number of people were coming to our art gallery and so CIMA Design was born to break the fear of entering a gallery. Also, my sister Rakhi and I have a passion for Indian craft and textile and when we used to go out to stores to shop, we found nothing authentic or even remotely tempting to buy'”
USP: High quality of Indian craft, be it textile or decorative pieces. “The store is a bit like India, you need to explore the layers to appreciate its beauty. It is stylish and not aspirational,” says she.
Where Pratiti shops: Hugli and Weavers Studio, apart from CIMA Design.
Celeb clients: Jogen Chowdhury, Ganesh Pyne, Aparna Sen, Konkona, Dimple Kapadia, Twinkle and Rinkie Khanna, Rituparno Ghosh, Prosenjit, Rituparna Sengupta, Koena Mitra, June, Koel Mullick, Sunil Advani, Russi Mody, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Jason Lowe, Vincent Edwards and diplomats.
Dream client: Betty Liu, manager of Design Harper Collins, USA, who has already visited the store. “She stood at the entrance and said ‘aha’ and CIMA Design is all about such great ‘aha’ moments,” smiles Pratiti.
Shalini Nopany and Pooja Goenka
Faces behind: 85 Lansdowne, near the Hazra Road crossing.
Credentials: Shalini is an MBA from Pittsburg University and runs a charity school called Tree of Hope while Pooja is a homemaker.
How it came about: It all began during a casual conversation and the “need” to provide Calcutta with a multi-designer outlet.
USP: “Unbeatable prices”, because 85 Lansdowne sells ensembles without any mark-up. Also, the presence of 24 labels displayed in an old Calcutta home makes for a great shopping experience.
Where Shalini and Pooja shop: Nowhere else since 85 Lansdowne opened, says Pooja. Shalini loves Karma in Delhi.
Celeb clients: Designers Meera and Muzaffar Ali, Sanjiv Goenka. Bharati Deveshwar, Madhu Neotia...
Dream client: Calcutta. “To have the entire city flocking here and finishing the stock,” they smile.
Ajay and Sheena Rawla
Faces behind: Cocoon, at 28/2, Shakespeare Sarani.
Credentials: Ten years in the fashion industry through export to big fashion and cosmetic houses like L’Oreal, Saks Fifth Avenue and Elizabeth Arden.
How it came about: “We missed a shopping experience in the city and hence saw an opportunity. Our overseas exposure encouraged us further to set up this venture,” says Ajay.
USP: A melange of products all the way from Bali, Turkey and also the interiors of Rajasthan. The ambience at Cocoon, with an ethno-contemporary theme, is an eclectic mix of old and new.
Where Ajay and Sheena shop: Crate and Barrel in the US; pottery and ceramics from Jengala in Bali.
Celeb clients: Deepti Naval and Moon Moon Sen, Rituparno Ghosh and Goutam Ghose, Kiran Uttam Ghosh, and “leading interior designers” of the city.
Dream client: Architect and lifestyle designer Phillipe Starck. “We would love him to soak in the ambience and pick up one of our old Afghani carpets,” they gush.
Purnima Chawla and Sangita Kejriwal
Faces behind: Espee, at 37, Shakespeare Sarani.
Credentials: Purnima has done a course in textile designing from Delhi Polytechnic while Sangita is a graduate from Bangalore.
How it came about: “It came out of a hobby and a sheer interest in good clothes, something that was not available in Calcutta at that point,” says Purnima.
USP: One of the first high fashion stores to open in Calcutta, Espee stocks both stylish as well as experimental ensembles. “We also take pride in setting trends in the city,” adds Sangita.
Where Purnima and Sangita shop: Karma, Ensemble and Kimaya in Delhi, Aza and Kimaya in Mumbai, and various stores in Europe.
Celeb clients: Johnty Rhodes and Sourav Ganguly, Shabana Azmi and Dolly Thakore, Manisha Koirala and Tabu, Twinkle and Rinkie Khanna...
Dream client: Jennifer Lopez. “We would love her to buy an in-house design sari. Something trendy to go with her persona yet screaming out India loud,” they feel.
Face behind: Prana, at 13/3, Ballygunge Circular Road.
Credentials: No background in this industry but a “keen eye for style”.
How it came about: The kids had grown up and Kavita was ready to begin a project. She found this place and then developed it on the lines of a large lifestyle store.
USP: With elaborate sections on designer garments, home decor and jewellery, “there is something for everyone”, claims Kavita.
Where Kavita shops: 85 Lansdowne, Espee and Zenon.
Celeb clients: Calcutta models.
Dream client: Abhishek Bachchan (her daughter’s favourite actor). “I would love him to pick up some jewellery for his to-be wife,” smiles Kavita.
Face behind: Hugli in Hastings Court.
Credentials: A Masters in English, was “aesthetically-inclined” from a very young age.
How it came about: Various trips to Southeast Asia made her realise that there was no place to shop for such handicrafts in Calcutta. “That was when Hugli was born,” she recalls.
USP: The collection that “like a river is ever-changing”, is personally handpicked by Madhulika.
Where Madhulika shops: Santushti Complex in New Delhi and Good Earth stores in Mumbai and Delhi.
Celeb clients: Meera Nair and Shyam Benegal’s wife.
Dream client: “Anyone/everyone.”