I’m a sucker for a great love story. I’m like a teenage girl, all swoony, when I hear about a romance that is so true, it lasts a lifetime. Admit it, you are too! That’s why I had to share the remarkable story of Laura and Kiran Singh, one of our favorite textile vendors, whose extraordinary handcrafted fabrics from India have made their way into the homes and hearts of so many Nell Hill’s customers.
Their story, from how they met to how they have merged their disparate worlds and cultures to create their wildly successful textile company, Laura & Kiran, is the stuff of Hollywood. I asked Laura and Kiran to tell us more about their remarkable journey…
Mary Carol: Tell us about the magical night you met, and your 36 hour first date that set the course for your lives.
Kiran: We met at a dinner party in Delhi, India. It was ZAP, electric. That’s when it happened. The world fell away. Auspiciously, our first date was on the full moon of the color festival of Holi, when people run wild throwing powdered color on each other in the streets. At sunset, we took a magical boat ride on the lake in India’s largest bird sanctuary. Surrounded by flocks of birds shadowed against a sky of oranges, pinks and purples, floating along in an old faded gray wooden row boat, we discovered our mutual love of Indian textiles and our desire to bring a modern feel to traditional India craftsmanship.
Laura:It was like, what romantic movie have I been dropped into? It was magical. We spoke about our dreams. We both wanted to do something between India and America. Our company began three years later.
Mary Carol: How did your company, Laura & Kiran, come about?
Laura: We got married and moved to California. In 1980, we began to import antiques and folk art from India. We ended up designing textiles and creating clothing, and were a clothing label for 10 years, with 1,200 dealers all over the country. We had access to ikat fabrics, and our look was very unique.
Kiran: Then, a friend of ours wanted to cover furniture in our fabrics. So in 1993, we decided to shift to doing fabrics for home furnishings. I went to High Point, N.C., to the Showtime Market, and the first showing of the first day, I had sold to Drexel Heritage, Lee Industries, Crate and Barrel, and many others.
Mary Carol: Tell us about your beautiful, handcrafted fabrics. I am always drawn to your simple but stunning designs.
Kiran: All of our fabrics are hand-printed and woven by master craftsmen in India. The designs are drawn from our 30 years of travel all over India. Indian decorative art and architecture, and the old textiles we find in the nooks and crannies of India’s bazaars, are our jumping off point. We delight in creating fresh and modern designs by reinventing traditional motifs and infusing them with contemporary color.
Laura: The people we work with in India have really high standards, in how they treat their employees and families, and how they treat the environment. A lot of weaving families have been supported through our work.
Mary Carol: If I ever make it to India, what must I see?
Kiran: Don’t miss Rajasthan, in northern India. That’s where you will find all the gypsies, and everything is colorful.
Laura: Also Kerala, on India’s Malabar Coast. It’s tropical and beautiful, with beaches and backwaters. It’s exquisite. And, of course, the Taj Mahal — it’s spectacular, and should not be missed.
Want to learn more about Laura & Kiran, and how their beautiful fabrics are made? Check out their website!