Founded on a deeply rooted value system that honors its owners’ multicultural legacy in India, Vismaya offers a colorful collection of scarves, kimonos, bandanas, beach wraps and more. It’s a collaboration among many minds and hands.
Siblings and cofounders Shivani Mehrotra and Yatin Narula are the third-generation creatives behind the successful brand. Their father, Naresh, ran the family fashion business in Delhi, India, and hoped to pass it on to his children. But Shivani chose to forge a different path. She earned a master’s degree in accounting and finance with her sights set on joining the corporate world in America. Yatin, Shivani’s younger brother, joined the family business by the time Shivani married and left India for the States in 2001.
“When I moved over here, my brother Yatin said, ‘There is a new trade show that is coming up in L.A. Maybe we should launch this scarf brand and see how that goes for us?’” she remembers. They set up a booth with the collection they had created in just 10 days. “My family is very creatively inclined, and they love colors and vibrancy,” Shivani adds. “We had no expectations. We did a three-day event show, and the response to our product was unbelievable!”
“The legacy is carried in the values that me and my brother have been raised with—integrity and honesty. We wanted to bring out a brand that would make our father proud of both of us.”
Soon the siblings hit up another successful market in San Francisco and knew they were on to something. “This was the path that we followed: One day I was listening to my brother speaking about the brand and the business with so much passion that I thought, ‘How can I not be part of this legacy?’” Shivani shares. “The legacy is carried in the values that me and my brother have been raised with—integrity and honesty. We wanted to bring out a brand that would make our father proud of both of us.”
Working alongside her brother, Shivani is now the CEO of Vismaya, which translates as “wonder.” She explains: “It could be wonder of the world, wonder within us or wonder that surrounds us. The idea is for us to create wonder with thread. We want to be able to say that every piece we make is different and unique, whether that’s some embroidery or special threadwork at the end.”
Vismaya created extensive collections for Anthropologie and the catalog company Sundance. Both of these partnerships helped establish Vismaya as a global brand. Within our local community, Gum Tree has been one of their most loyal and long-standing customers.
“It took us a long time to launch our e-commerce brand,” notes Shivani. “But last year, with everyone moving toward the digital world, we launched our brand online. We had to make ourselves visible in some way in this big world.”
Shivani started looking around different galleries for artists who resonated with the Vismaya ethos. These collaborations involve using the artists’ designs on Vismaya’s fabrics used to create scarves, bandanas and other items.
“One of the ways we can give back to society or to the community is helping promote upcoming artists,” she shares. They started with L.A.-based artists Colette Miller, Alison Corteen, Bruce Rubenstein and the South Bay’s own Wendy Stillman. “When I met these artists, I was taken away. I can relate to them because they are trying to make themselves visible; they’re trying to make themselves stand out in this world.”
Shivani is grateful for the support she has received from her local community in Manhattan Beach, her family and especially from her husband, Raj. “It has been challenging at times, but it has given me an opportunity to meet different people and to travel. A lot of our designs are inspired by our travel. For us, the backstory needs to be as compelling as the finished product, and each product needs to have a personality of its own.”