Sixteen years ago Anita Lal opened a beautiful, tiny home wares shop called Good Earth in tony South Bombay with absolutely no business knowledge or experience. What began as a passion project for a housewife who simply wanted to sell beautiful things has since grown into a fabulous and formidable global brand that boasts gorgeous shops in four different Indian cities. Good Earth stores are veritable treasure troves teeming with sumptuous bedding, giant silk pillows, glowing lanterns, elegant and sometimes eclectic furniture, inspired dinnerware and just about everything you would ever want in your home. Though this is no rags-to-riches success story — Lal admits she was lucky to have had (and still have) the financial backing of her husband — it is a story about the passion and perseverance of a woman who had a vision and brought it to life. No easy feat for a woman, in a country like India, who knew nothing about business.
Her first store at Kemp’s Corner has since shut; due to overwhelming demand it moved into a cavernous, two-story building in Mumbai’s Lower Parel, which is where we meet to talk about the Good Earth story. Outfitted in a sage green and cream kurta from the store, Lal is as much the physical embodiment of the brand as the spiritual, and appears to be Indian earth mother incarnate: warm, nurturing and won’t let me leave until I eat something. Over delicious small plates from the store’s restaurant The Tasting Room, she takes me through the ups and downs, the exploration and experimentation that has brought her, finally, to today’s glorious chapter in the story. She is lively and jovial, she speaks with an exuberance that belies her age and a passion that’s infectious. She laughs often and tells it like it is — there is no artifice, she displays none of the unfortunate trappings of success so common with people who run places frequented by the country’s top socialites and Bollywood stars. She speaks candidly about the difficulties she’s faced and is genuinely uninterested in expanding Good Earth for the sake of pure financial imperative.
It’s been an uphill battle for the matriarch but her ascension was hard-won and well-deserved. After 16 years of navigating the trials and tribulations of running the business, she’s recently passed the reigns of CEO to her daughter Simran and now proudly wears the mantle of Creative Head.
It’s clear she’s having the time of her life.
Read the full interview on The Huffington Post.
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