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Samyukta Nair on Dandelion DAY

‘Homage to sunshine, warm weather days spent in India’

Saionee Chakraborty   |   Published 29.11.21, 12:28 AM

Minutes into an adda with young food and fashion entrepreneur Samyukta Nair and we knew her favourite foods. “I am such a sucker for comfort, I don’t steer very far. I’ll have the usual things like a butter chicken, nalli, some raan... the only Indian dessert that I love is jalebi,” she said. When we said that we were salivating because our lunch menu was just egg curry, Samyukta got us salivating even more. “Every Sunday at home we do a south Indian version of the anda curry that we eat with appam and it’s actually no masala, very simple... it’s just coconut milk boiled with onions and a little bit of peas and carrots and then we just put eggs in and we eat it with an appam... salt, pepper and basic flavours,” she informed. Fish curry was the “hardest” dish to perfect, she felt. “Listen, do you eat meat? Then you must be making a really good maachher jhol.. that’s the hardest dish to make, you know that right because the mustard, the tempering and the flavouring... someone told me that the only way to make a maachher jhol is to make the sauce separately, simmer it and do the fish separately and then put it together. Then someone told me that you fry the fish with the masala because otherwise the fish doesn’t get enough time to soak in the masala. We used to have it on our menu in Jamavar (Mayfair, London) when it opened and it is the hardest dish to get right,” she said. We promptly forwarded an invitation to come to Calcutta. “I would love to come to Calcutta. Kookie Jar is the best. Tell them to open in Bombay,” she said. Lovey, are you listening?

Food talk had to take a break though because the reason we had called up Samyukta was to chat about Dandelion DAY, a new vertical from Dandelion of which she is the founder. And, Samyukta took us through the idea behind the range and more.

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Minutes into an adda with young food and fashion entrepreneur Samyukta Nair and we knew her favourite foods. “I am such a sucker for comfort, I don’t steer very far. I’ll have the usual things like a butter chicken, nalli, some raan... the only Indian dessert that I love is jalebi,” she said. When we said that we were salivating because our lunch menu was just egg curry, Samyukta got us salivating even more. “Every Sunday at home we do a south Indian version of the anda curry that we eat with appam and it’s actually no masala, very simple... it’s just coconut milk boiled with onions and a little bit of peas and carrots and then we just put eggs in and we eat it with an appam... salt, pepper and basic flavours,” she informed. Fish curry was the “hardest” dish to perfect, she felt. “Listen, do you eat meat? Then you must be making a really good maachher jhol.. that’s the hardest dish to make, you know that right because the mustard, the tempering and the flavouring... someone told me that the only way to make a maachher jhol is to make the sauce separately, simmer it and do the fish separately and then put it together. Then someone told me that you fry the fish with the masala because otherwise the fish doesn’t get enough time to soak in the masala. We used to have it on our menu in Jamavar (Mayfair, London) when it opened and it is the hardest dish to get right,” she said. We promptly forwarded an invitation to come to Calcutta. “I would love to come to Calcutta. Kookie Jar is the best. Tell them to open in Bombay,” she said. Lovey, are you listening?

Food talk had to take a break though because the reason we had called up Samyukta was to chat about Dandelion DAY, a new vertical from Dandelion of which she is the founder. And, Samyukta took us through the idea behind the range and more.

Congratulations for a daywear collection for Dandelion DAY. What did you have in mind?

Dandelion actually started as a sleepwear label. I wanted to address a lack in the market that existed about six years ago and the idea was to give people something that was easy, aesthetically pleasing, durable and something that made sleep a part of people’s wardrobe because quintessentially people are used to buying things for going out or as daywear but not really to sleep in. It would be old clothes repurposed and worn to bed, but how you sleep is how you recover... you would like to wear something breathable and relaxing.

Really that ethos was extended when we launched Dandelion LIVING during the pandemic, which is a line of bedding, cushions, candles, because we wanted to extend that safe haven not just for the person, but also their immediate surroundings, which then extended to the home and the bedroom.

With Dandelion DAY, the idea was to launch a collection that is easy, wearable, versatile and allows people the option to be able to make it their own and style it in a way that is completely theirs. I made the move to London in April and I live here now and being in London where the weather is always unpredictable and you almost always need a cover-up or a jacket, you miss the ease of easy pieces that you can throw on and walk around. Dandelion DAY is an homage to sunshine, warm weather days spent in India and that was really the starting point, designing a collection of easy separates that people can take from morning to night. Floret has been shot on the grounds of my home and it is an ode to home. It ignites a joy in me that is unparalleled.

Floret is a feminine line...

It’s a feminine line, but it’s also a very big ethos of the brand, it’s feminine and it is everyday. You can style it as separates and coords. For the colour palette, I wanted to draw from something that was quite bold, but still beautiful. We have done the deep mustards, fuchsia, cherry pink, the white with pops of colour and really the inspiration was nature and growing up around a garden and open spaces. I draw from that quite instinctively. There was a lot of freedom of movement in my childhood. Even today I gravitate towards nature quite easily, whether it’s a walk in the park or a run in the area I live in. That helped me understand what I could bring to the collection.

Nature also teaches you so many things like patience, appreciation, to take a minute and enjoy the days in your life. For me, just being away from home and having that perspective really made me understand what I valued and I really wanted to bring that to the collection.

What are your favourites?

It is so hard to choose. I love the embroidered kaftan. It’s an interesting mix of prints and embroidery. Just with as much ease, I’d probably wear the smocked dress or a matching coord set. I am also a whimsical and moody dresser and I want to be able to give myself enough options to pick from and that’s what makes the collection so easy.

What are you planning next with the label?

Like I said, it’s really whimsical and brings me a lot of joy and I enjoy creating products and collections that I resonate with. Everything in my life has been quite serendipitous and I am excited to see what comes next....

Did you move to London for work?

Over the pandemic we acquired a few more sites and that’s something I wanted to pay more attention to. I really enjoy it. We have launched our company called LSL Capital and that’s going to focus on culinary experiences and it shows our commitment to the London market. My father also had a similar trajectory. He was a garment exporter, worked with textiles and then started working in hospitality. He is a food magnet and I draw a lot from him. With any industry, the creative juices start from the same place. Food or fashion is a difference of form. Just being able to acknowledge that is probably one of the greatest lessons that I have learnt. Maybe my greatest gift is that I can take things as they come.

Who are your favourite leaders in entrepreneurship?

My parents and grandparents. My grandfather (Captain C.P. Krishnan Nair, founder of the Leela Group) was a visionary and I am very proud to be an Indian and very much love the Indian globalism that he brought to the table. It’s very different from today’s world where everything is so digital, new-age and fast. There is something about old-school values. If you are not going to stand for something, then you are going to fall for everything. That really resonates with me.



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