Looking and experiencing the contemporary world through the legacy of traditional practices is the core of Paro, a knowledge and concept led brand. It celebrates luxury in apparel, jewellery, bed & bath linen, home accents, skin and body care products and has created a space to help people rediscover, create and adopt personal rituals set in ancestral wisdom that promote wellbeing from the within.
Paro is the third brand from the house of Good Earth and Nicobar. On the occasion of Paro’s second anniversary, Founder Simran Lal talks to us about the concept behind the store and its journey.
How has Paro’s journey been so far?
The first year was about putting together what we as a team were offering and saying about Paro as a new brand. At that time people entered the space and were like, ‘Its lovely and beautiful but what is it, what can we buy?’ And then in the second year, everything started marinating and we expanded on an understanding of how to make our concept a little bit more tangible for our people. Covid has, interestingly, helped us a lot in this because it has made people to look within themselves and that’s essentially what Paro has always been about.
What was business like in this second year?
I call Paro a space instead of a store because even though it has its commercial side, it’s a very experiential space. We have our Paro talks there, there’s a shanti (peace) space. It’s a feeling, which was unfortunately not available during the lockdown. But what we found was that though people couldn’t come into the physical space, they were coming into our storytelling space, our Instagram handle. That is where our engagement boosted because suddenly a lot more people were asking for self care and well being and rituals. Most of our business and sales are happening through Instagram and it’s beautiful. I am amazed at how much jewellery we are selling through Instagram!
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Why are people buying more jewellery?
The Western world compartmentalises everything and we have imbibed that culture but that’s not how we celebrate. At Paro, we wanted it to be about true well being and not about wellness as a compartment. We wanted to celebrate life in its true beauty and so the jewellery and beautifully crafted clothes are a part of that. What my house smells like, how my skin feels, the little bit of joy I get from wearing earrings are part of my well being. People always ask me you’re a wellness brand, what’s jewellery got to do with it? And so I say it’s an integrated way of looking at well being. There’s a lot of emphasis on how I interact with the world around me, it’s a little on the philosophical level too. And secondly, why jewellery is selling more is because I think people are at home now and, of course, it isn’t going to be like this forever, so they feel like dressing up and feeling festive and why not? I mean it’s like giving yourself an inner quieter joy and luxury.
How does a brand like Paro approach the festive season?
We haven’t focused on weddings yet, but I think considering all festivities in general, we’re not a regular brand and I think festivity for us is to celebrate a festival with all its joy and beauty. Diwali, for instance, is not just one evening but a culmination of traditions and rituals and getting together. We have some beautifully crafted, pretty stuff that is quieter, but festive and people can buy and enjoy these.
Our collections are very capsule and artisanal and they are celebratory regardless of festivals or Covid. Of course things amp up a little during festivities, but not much has changed. We don’t do trends so we’re pretty much dealing with things in the same way. There may be less buying this year, so, I may do a smaller collection instead of a bigger one but, overall, it’s still a celebration.
What kind of potential do you see in the sustainability movement in the Indian luxury scenario?
I think there’s huge potential in it. After independence, we got a country that was broken, our crafts were decimated, our identity was broken. Now, after all these years, what I am seeing is this
sense of pride in where we come from, a curiosity in young Indians about the country’s heritage and place in the world. And I think that is very important because in the absence of that, we’ll be looking at our self worth somewhere else. So I think there is a lot of potential in crafts and uplifting India’s craftsmanship and it needs patronage for sure. After pouring over books that talk about crafts during the Mughal era and other things, I often sort of lament that India doesn’t have enough patronage.
People are willing to spend hefty amounts on handbags, but if they’re given a beautifully crafted silver otter Daant, people will want to spend on it. But, if people like us start defining what is truly luxury as opposed to what has been defined as luxury, I would say we have a way to go.
Where do you see Paro five years down the line?
Paro is helping people create these personal rituals that connect them to nature and make them feel good, and I feel like that is not going to change five years down the line. It’s perennial. Because
we’re a brand of growth, learning, going inside and experiencing, I see ourselves creating interesting experiences and working with that over time.
For me, the biggest joy will be, if through Paro, we are able to offer to people a way of life, another way of looking at things, living a life that is more joyful, more complete, more in harmony. That is why I started this and that is where I want to be.
Paro by GoodEarth
You spoke about creating personal rituals for people. What is yours?
The thing with rituals is you have to do them everyday. There’s a discipline there. Until a couple of years ago, I was a late sleeper. I used to do all my work at night and wake up late the next morning. But then I started reading books on Ayurveda that mentioned the early hours of 4-6 am is a beautiful time and so I started pushing myself little by little to wake up early until I found my rhythm and that changed a lot of things. Before I get out of bed, I say a little prayer to be thankful for good health and mother earth.
Then I go up to my terrace and give bajra to the birds every morning and that has been so transformative. I started noticing the different birds that were coming, their interactions, what flowers bloomed when, how sunlight changed and it became my world. The morning time is for myself. There is this concept of dinacharya or morning rituals that says you should go out in the morning and look at nature because that is supposed to have therapeutic benefits.
Then I light a diya sometime during sunrise because there are some scientific benefits of lighting a diya as well. I then meditate for 45 minutes to an hour followed by a class in Vedanta. In the evenings too I light a diya around sunset, light an incense stick. Usually one ritual activates other rituals when you see the benefits of it.
How important is design in all your three brands? What is your design philosophy?
Design, for me, has to be proactive, aware and deeply mindful. It is all about being able to create a product or experience or communication that we feel will benefit people in
different ways. One of our main things at Good Earth, Nicobar and Paro is shaping the culture, which translates to a mindful, thoughtful way of living.
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