Meet Dipali Patwa, CEO and Founder of Masala Baby Inc. After having worked at Martha Stewart Living as a designer, Patwa, who hails from India, was interested in building a brand of her own. She believed that it was a market in need of innovation and new meaningful ideas. With a full-time job at Mela Artisans, another NYC-based mission-driven brand, she was able to sustain herself while incubating Masala Baby which was completely self funded till November 2016. Thereafter, she left Mela Artisans, raised her first round of funding, and immersed herself full-time at the company. To start off 2019 on the right foot, we’ve asked Dipali to shed some light on her design process and experience as a multi-tasking mom and entrepreneur.
How would you describe your aesthetic in three words?
Simple, Understated, Timeless
What is your favorite part about being a designer?
To be able to create my dreams into reality, to be able to use my inspiration to create wearable product, to be able to connect the dots from pen to paper to product and engage our community in creating meaningful masala moments is my favorite part!
When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a designer?
At 16 years old, I knew that I wanted to connect creativity in a way that would touch everyday lives. My creativity and career has allowed me to touch various aspects of everyday lives by working with artisans and creative performers to designing home décor and furnishings, to utility and solution based products to apparel, accessories, jewelry and much more…I have been lucky to be able to view and experience DESIGN in a very wholesome way.
What was your most influential job and what was the most valuable thing you learned from this experience?
The most valuable learning experience was my first Creative Director position with Fabindia. It taught me very early on that doing good and creating value while generating profits could all go hand in hand, and that it needed to be built into the DNA of your brand/company.
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
Get really good at failing. Learn and move quickly.
How are your designs impacted by the places you have traveled?
Travel, People, Food, Architecture, Color, Lifestyle… there are so many things that inspire us as human beings. Our goal is to connect these dots to cross borders effortlessly while staying true to our roots. After all, Masala means a mix of ingredients to create a unique flavor! That mixture is what makes us special.
There’s so much pressure for designers to come out with their greatest collection season after season. What advice would you give to young designers just starting out and hoping to make it in the industry?
Don’t be afraid. Try new things. Don’t be average. Don’t take No for an answer. Strive for more. Be on time. The rest will happen.
How have your designs changed over the years?
It’s interesting to see the evolution of our brand from 2010 to now. It has been a fascinating journey: experiencing our millennial parent and taking their feedback to better address their needs while staying true to our brand DNA. They continue to help us with our curation as we strive to turn our inspirations into beautiful, meaningful designs.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? (design block?)
Inspiration is endless. It’s everywhere if you are open to look for it. Yes, there are times that new launches seem daunting: creating what seems an endless number of designs season after season, birthing entire new collections. However, each collection is a new beginning that allows me to look inwards and be with myself to create the dream sequence. That is the beauty of creativity. We also work alongside our community during the creative process, so data and curation drives a lot of our design. In that way, it’s become a little easier to get the creative juices going – and that’s a beautiful thing!
What was your biggest fear when going out and starting your own line? No Fear! You don’t start something with fear. Fear will not let you get it off the ground. If I knew what it would really take, I probably would not have started my own company. So I am glad that I did not have fear holding me back and that nobody told me otherwise!
How did you come up with the name Masala Baby?
Masala means a mix of ingredients to create a unique flavor. We wanted to stay true to our Indian roots and inspiration of connecting global cultures. What better way to describe it than “Masala Baby”, with a pinch of turmeric, a spring of saffron, a hand full of rose petals all beautifully layered into the threads of our collections. Season after season we get inspired by travel, people, food, color, architecture that we mix together to create designs for everyday life that makes our community happy.
What does Masala Baby’s marigold logo symbolize?
Marigold is a flower that is very dear to me. I grew up with marigolds around me and they signified happiness, color, prosperity as they were always used for special occasions. Since my childhood, Marigolds have left such an impression of love, abundance and happiness that when I was looking for that one symbol of significance for our brand- Marigold is what first came to my mind as it signified all the wonderful attributes of our brand.
What can we expect from 2019?
2019 is going to be the year of many movements, from launching our brand in India with a special partnership with Fabindia to our first social collaborative capsule collection with Eva Martino, to launching Spring-Summer 2019 and much more in works.. Sign up for our newsletter and Follow our Blog for updates. 🙂
Do you have any kids? How has he/she influenced the brand?
My not-so-little Masala Baby is 12 years old. His name is Elan Satchit. As cliched as it may sound, he was the reason that I started looking at baby and kids category and found the beginnings of Masala baby whilst trying to dress him like one!
What made you want to expand your business from just designing kids clothing, to mommy and me? Can we expect a full family collection at one point?
Mommy and Me was a natural extension of our collection. Our masala mamas came asking for it and we listen to our community. We see Masala Baby as a complete lifestyle brand. The categories we see ourselves crosses apparel, accessories, home, beauty, content and more
What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
Social media plays an important role in our everyday lives. Its how the millennials connect, discover, chat that has changed. It’s a medium for fashion to just pay attention to the changing times and platforms and use them to connect to your consumer. Today it is Instagram and Facebook, tomorrow it will be something else. For Fashion to be relevant, its important to stay connected and feel the pulse
Who is your mentor?
My mentors are many incredible people who have crossed my path which include some of my amazing language teachers, to women leaders, creative thinkers, wholesome friends, my mom, my team and kids who continue to inspire me to keep on learning…
Bonus! Tell us about where you shop for yourself and brands you like.
It’s hard to beat Amazon for convenience, but Uniqlo and Lucky Brand are both great for wardrobe staples. I also like Cuyana, Madewell, Free People, and several other Indie designers in the US and India… hard to pick just one!