HELLO! India (Digital)

HELLO! India (Digital)

1 Issue, February 2024


When we speak with Lylah Shaw, it’s almost immediately apparent that she’s not like other women her age. She’s deeply intuitive, focuses on her inner being, and lives by principles and practices that most take decades to learn. The entrepreneur, born and raised in New Delhi, currently speaking to us from her home in Bali, has led a very different albeit fulfilling life, growing up surrounded by diverse personalities from around the world, what with her family constantly bringing people together. “I vividly recall waking up to find Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp sitting by our pool in Bali. Witnessing my family effortlessly connect with people has profoundly influenced me, helping me break out of my shell and feel comfortable in my own skin, regardless of the environment,” says Lylah.

Pursuing education at Brandeis University in Boston, SOAS in London, and also attending the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Stella Adler Film School in New York, Lylah briefly worked in NYC before returning to India. Today, she splits her time between New Delhi and Bali, has her own fashion label, ituvana, and is also deeply immersed in wellness. She is currently cultivating a space in Bali dedicated to overall reconnection, fostering collaboration and elevating consciousness. HELLO! delves into the life of this self-proclaimed nomad and discovers an alternate, calmer and more spiritual side of life…

Lylah, you initially worked for Donna Karan before venturing into establishing your own clothing brand, ituvana — how did this journey begin?

I never expected to start a brand during my years at university. I studied International Relations and Criminal Law, only to realise that it wasn’t a path that truly resonated with me. Trusting my instincts, I explored the creative arts, where I could authentically express myself. Before long, I had the opportunity to work with the designer and philanthropist Donna Karan, who not only inspired me to create a brand, but also emphasised the importance of building a community of conscious consumers. During my time with Donna, I learnt to source the highest quality natural fabrics, collaborating with the most creative talent within and outside the country, manage production, and even photograph. My label, ituvana, derives its name from ‘itu,’ meaning ‘the’ in Indonesian, and ‘vana,’ signifying ‘ultimate bliss’ in Sanskrit and ‘forest’ in Hindi. The brand encourages the discovery of individual style through self-expression using the finest natural fabrics. Our fluid composition allows inclusivity while retaining individuality and comfort. You can find us in most retail stores across the country, and we’re slowly expanding beyond. Our first flagship store in New Delhi is a new beginning, and you can also find us in Paris. 

How did you pivot completely and find yourself in the wellness space from there, and why did you choose Bali as your primary location? 

ituvana was always intended to be a place of self-discovery, inspiring me to share my emotions and experiences on a deeper level. Soon after we launched, India went into lockdown, and that’s when I found the time to become more curious about myself and the choices I was making. The wellness side of it came very organically, in the sense that I was being much more intentional about what I was consuming, expressing, listening to, and so on. I believe that everything possesses a level of consciousness, and I aspired to evolve into more aligned versions of myself every day. The decision to spend more time in Bali was simply driven by the peace I found in the place. It mirrors India in its belief systems, where concepts like Karma influence daily life.

Did your daily lifestyle change drastically from what it was before — if so, how?

 I believe my lifestyle changed in the sense that certain environments didn’t appeal to me any longer. I learnt to trust my swadharma, or engage in activities that were more consistent with my inherent nature. In my early 20s, I loved being the life of the party, and now I can’t wait to leave one! So, I would say my priorities have changed, and I simply started going with what feels like who I really am. I don’t go out much unless it’s for an event, but I do love dressing up for special occasions and meeting new people.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on cultivating a community deeply rooted in connection with nature, drawing inspiration from the exploration of ancient wisdom, human potential and sustainable design principles. My intention is to cultivate a space for overall reconnection, fostering collaboration and elevating consciousness. I believe that the world is currently experiencing a transformative shift and my aspiration is to contribute positively to this evolution.

How’ve you grown as a person in recent years?

Recently, I’ve discovered the simple joy of just being, going with the flow of life without too many fixed preferences. I believe that nothing happens by chance and that every event has a lesson for me to learn. I wish to continue exploring, experiencing, and learning. Sharing these learnings with others in a meaningful way is something I look forward to.

What does a typical day look like?

I’m not particularly bound to a rigid routine, although I appreciate the idea of having one. Spontaneity is valuable to me, and I tend to go with what feels right at the moment. However, I do wake up to journal to declutter my thoughts. I also like to start my day by energising my body, whether it’s working out, surfing, or swimming. Afterward, I meditate or read before starting my workday. In the evenings, I enjoy watching animal documentaries, listening to audiobooks, or playing the piano. Lately, work has taken over, so even if I complete a few of these things during the day, it’s fulfilling. I like to go explore or horse ride on the weekends. An important part of my day involves sharing light or compassion with someone — I recently added this to my routine and find myself getting a lot more of it in return. 

Tell us about your family and the bond you all share… 

I grew up in an environment that allowed me the freedom to make my own decisions from a young age and explore various aspects of my personality. This freedom has played a significant role in shaping who I am today. My parents have always supported both my brother and I in pursuing our individual passions, making our own choices, and developing our own thinking standards. My father [Sakib], a third-generation entrepreneur, emphasised the  significance of exposure, diverse experiences, and interactions with various aspects of life, art and people. My mother [Shiba], a professional and career woman from a young age, instilled in us the importance of standing on our own feet and embracing independence. They inspired us to create our own truth. Regardless of our diverse life paths, we consistently learn from each other. My brother [Zeyn] is pursuing a career in acting, my father is involved in business and my mother is an interior designer. So even though we lead different lives, we always find opportunities to learn from one another...

Do you visit Delhi often – if so, what do you do while you’re here?

I spend half of my year in Delhi if I’m not travelling, mainly focusing on ituvana and creating at my workshop. I also visit holistic spaces and explore different parts of the country. Lately, Kerala has been a personal favourite.

Now tell us about your home in Bali…

My family and friends come in and out. Our main home, which is in the city, surprisingly, was a former animal reserve! When we moved in, all the rooms were still occupied by cockatoos, cheetahs, servals [cats] and so on. It has a lot of greenery and Javanese structures. My mother has a talent for creating beautiful homes and my dad has an eye for landscaping.

If we spent a weekend with you in Bali – what would we do?

Bali lives its culture on a daily basis. I would take you to the parts of the island that still embody the essence of its traditions, from hidden waterfalls and markets to local wisdom keepers and mountain hikes in Ubud, as well as remote beaches in Uluwatu. Of course, we’d also enjoy plenty of home massages, go dancing in the city, and dine at my favourite restaurants including La Lucciola, Shelter, Mama San, Locavore To Go, Kagemusha, Syrco BASÈ, Leon Brasserie, Batubara Wood Fire, RÜSTERS. 

Do you travel a lot? Which places are currently on your bucket list? 

I’ve always been very nomadic; I love exploring, especially parts of the world that are still untouched. My friends and family often tease me because I’ll initially plan for a one-week trip and end up staying for a month! Currently, I want to visit the Amazon rainforest and explore Japan.

Lastly, the best piece of advice you’ve received?

It keeps changing, but a recent one comes while chatting with a respected Ayurveda specialist in Brazil. They said, “Ensure that everything you do, everyone you work with, and any relationship you get involved with, feels like a 100% yes in your body.” 

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