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13 Questions with Gayatri Khanna

Juggling between the various roles which Indian women are now used to, Gayatri Khanna manages to balance her work with international luxury houses with duties towards her daughters. Lauding her spirit, we ask her some cheeky life questions

The story of Gayatri Khanna has a lot of intertwining themes. A woman entrepreneur, a mother, an advocate of Made in India, and an appreciator of Indian crafts, Ms. Khanna has been all this and more for the past 20 years. 

A graduate in Entrepreneurial Studies and Marketing from Babson College, Massachusetts, Ms. Khanna gained valuable experience with various garment companies in New York, eventually joining Saks Fifth Avenue as a buyer for designer wear. But the business bug bit her soon enough, prompting Ms. Khanna to launch Milaaya Embroideries in 2000 – a multifaceted design house that services the likes of Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Giorgio Armani, Etro, Oscar De La Renta, Michael Kors, Vera Wang, Balmain, Paco Rabanne and more. With a base in five fashion capitals of the world: New York, Mumbai, Milan, Paris and London, Milaaya Embroideries provides complete packages with fabrics, trims, embroideries, embellishments, stitching and packaging for these global fashion brands.

Gayatri Khanna House of Gaya

At the turn of a new decade, and arguably a new era, Ms. Khanna has now launched GAYA, a fashion brand, which utilises all the expertise of Milaaya and turns it into a beautiful expression of her design sensibility. Starting with embellished, innovative masks for men and women, GAYA couldn’t have found a better niche to begin business with.

With much experience, style and sense under her belt, we talk to Ms. Khanna and delve into her personality with our 13 Questions series.

LuxuryFacts: What did you want to become as a child?
Gayatri Khanna: I always aspired to become a businesswoman. I wanted to have something I can call my own, have a swanky office and a team of people I can work with and lead. I guess dreams do come true!

What was the life experience that impacted you the most? How and why?
I think the years I spent in the US while studying at Babson College gave me the much needed exposure to a different world, meeting new people, coming across new cultures, a different and a more independent way of life than I was used to living. It really broadened my horizons both personally and professionally. My conviction of being an entrepreneur only solidified further during this period in my life. These years laid the foundation for what I am today and I truly cherish them!

What advice would you give to your 18-year old self?
My advice to my 18 year old self would be to follow your passion and listen to your inner voice! There may be roadblocks and setbacks on the way but each day is a new learning and eventually you will get where you are supposed to be. So do not be too hard on yourself. It is the age of growing, experimenting, exploring, making mistakes and learning from them, and most importantly enjoying myself as the responsibilities only grow from there on!

What was the last thing that made you genuinely laugh?
The things my daughters say and their antics make me laugh. The time spent with them is my stress-buster always leaving me with a hearty laugh and a smile on my face!

Gayatri Khanna House of Gaya

What is the most exciting part of your work day? The most tedious?
The most exciting part of my day is when our creative mode is on. The entire creative process from research to the inception of ideas to the brainstorming with my design team, to designing the collections is one of the most exciting parts of my work day. I look forward to watching these designs turn into reality! 

The most tedious yet important part is my meetings with the Finance Team to discuss the numbers or the overdue from clients and such!

How do you decompress?
I like to spend time with my family and friends. I enjoy playing and spending time with my daughters. My ‘me-time’ would be holidays on the beach or my work-out sessions. 

What was the first thing you thought about this morning?
How grateful I am for all that I have!

What is the last thing you do before going to bed?
I sum up the wonderful day I had and express gratitude for it!

What is the one luxury item or service you can’t live without?
My big Gucci bag that fits in all the essential things I need as I step out of the house!

What is the meaning of life?
Life, in its profound simplicity, is finding your divine purpose and connecting with your soul!

What’s love? 
Love is so many emotions and feelings put together. The expression of love comes in so many different forms but is difficult to put into words. It is the feeling of warmth, joy, passion, adoration, care and so much more.

What are you most afraid of?
Ironically, I am most afraid of being fearful!

What is one existential, difficult-to-answer question you wished you knew the right response to?
What existed before the Big-Bang? What started the Big-Bang? Is there really a parallel universe?