Name and Title:
Shilpa Shah, Co-Founder and CeX
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
Karla and I started Cuyana hoping to fill a gap that we saw in the marketplace on both the product side and the brand side. On the product side, the market was being dominated by two polarizing options: high quality yet exorbitantly priced pieces or affordable garments which weren’t made to last. We believed we could create a different type of company: one that focused on timeless, meaningful and high-quality products offered at attainable prices. Cuyana means "to love" in Quechua, and we had a dream to create pieces that every woman can wear and love forever.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
The way we approach design and craftsmanship with intention in every step. Something that’s special about our brand is that the pieces themselves are infused with the stories of the countries in which they were made and the people who made them. We have close relationships with all of our family-run partners. Since we are direct-to-consumer, we are able to create a narrative around the beautiful quality and intricate craftsmanship that each piece embodies. It allows us to make quality and story accessible in each price.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Cuyana was built on the concept of love. For me, our mission to empower women all over the world with confidence and strength is endlessly fulfilling and a constant inspiration.
How do you benefit mamas?
Cuyana is inspired by the idea of simplifying. It is our intention to make life more effortless and intentional for the modern woman. We are also incredibly inspired by the organization Baby2Baby, and work to support their mission by donating our essentials to low-income families in need.
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
Three years ago, I responded directly to a customer feedback email. Just a few months ago, I received a follow-up email from the same customer that was incredibly meaningful. She said, “You taking 10 minutes to send an email created an experience for me, and that experience has made me your loudest cheerleader...please know that this girl in Atlanta will support you and your brand wherever you go. So if you or your team are ever questioning whether or not to do the small thing, look back at this. The small things matter.”
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field:
I feel lucky to be constantly surrounded by so many strong and inspiring women. To name a few: Audrey Gelman has been doing amazing things to empower women and create a home base that re-writes the rules with The Wing. I am also in awe of Christy Turlington’s mission with Every Mother Counts. Her philanthropic spirit is contagious, and she has influenced incredible change for women, by women, all over the world.
What is your "mantra" / words to live by?
Be humble and respectful, in business and beyond.
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
We created the Lean Closet movement as a means to simplifying and curating the world around us, as well as make a deep-rooted impact in the lives of women who need it. We urge you to clean out the pieces in your closets that are no longer of use to you and donate them to Lean Closet, in partnership with H.E.A.R.T. (Helping Ease Abuse Related Trauma).The act of cleaning out your closet has a way of creating space and time for things you love. Getting ready in the morning becomes quick and easy, with no time wasted! Plus, each article of clothing you donate will go to victims of domestic abuse, empowering women to build new lives with a fresh start.