Her first stint as a businesswoman wasn’t an easy one, especially while living in a new country. But what set her apart was a keen eye, not just for carpets but also talented artisans. While she never got to running around as a spy, she did get to travel across countries and have life-changing experiences that inspire her to this day. She moved to India in 1989 and set up her first textile company, Shades of India, with her then-husband David Housego, in 1992. “Colour and texture are the most fascinating features of Indian textiles and I truly believe that the local artisans have been my greatest teachers,” she adds.
When she met Kashmiri carpet dealer Asaf Ali, he was all of 16 and a novice. But she had sensed a tremendous amount of potential in him and eventually went to start her luxury brand, Kashmir Loom, with him as co-founder. Her biggest challenge however was to convince Ghulam Hassan, their top weaver, to use metallic yarn with Pashmina wool to modernise age-old weaving designs. “The result was overwhelmingly beautiful and we realised that we need to revive other traditional weaving techniques like Kani, which were dwindling as well,” she adds. Since then she’s stayed determined, reviving different crafts and weaves in the country, while telling her artisans, “Nothing is impossible”, a line she believes that living in India has taught her.