We were able to get a glimpse of Narlaka in action recently, going behind the scenes to chat with the two friends who decided to start their own label. We talked with them about their new collection, where they draw their inspiration from and what gets them out of bed every day (literally!).
They shared their memories with us, the highs and lows, along with gorgeous imagery from their travels and their beautiful new collection that has just launched with us.
Do you remember where you were when you decided to set up your own business?
We were together holidaying in Sri Lanka when the idea came about. We both knew that something was missing from our lives in London, and we were in this beautiful country surrounded by all these gorgeous fabrics, scenery and summer vibes, the creative juices started flowing. Soon enough, we had come up with our concept and it all went from there!
Where does the name Narlaka come from?
This is actually a good story! We had been brainstorming names whilst in Sri Lanka but nothing had quite grasped us… then one day we were on a safari driving around, when suddenly our jeep came to an abrupt halt. Right in front of us on the path was this gigantic elephant, with tusks [which are incredibly rare to see in Sri Lanka]. The elephant charged at us, which was a pretty special occurrence. Seeing this rare beauty at a time where we both felt so inspired was a very magical moment, the elephant was called Narlaka.
What was the first thing you did when you made the decision to go for it?
Had a toast to ourselves with a cold beer on the beach! Then we each put in a hundred pounds to get our first samples made.
So, tell us about your brand and the inspiration behind it?
Narlaka is a lifestyle, it’s about being care-free, confident, fun, and living life in the moment. We both left the daily grind in London as we felt there was more to the world than jobs that didn’t fulfil us, smelly tubes and weekends spent in the pub. We left everything behind on a whim and went into the unknown, and now we spend our days creating something really special to us, seeing the world and meeting so many people.
Don’t get us wrong, we are working our socks off but also enjoying the journey. The brand is supposed to represent that, so when you wear our clothes, when you read the ‘narlaka vibes’ blog or when you scroll through our Instagram feed, we want you to feel a sense of anything is possible – because it really is!
We also take a lot of inspiration from festivals, as this is our favourite past time. When you’re at a festival, nobody cares what you are wearing – you can be as crazy as you want. Everyday life should be more like that.
How do you split your time between Bali and the UK?
We live bi-coastal lives, which is awesome. We spend time in Bali designing, sourcing fabrics at local markets and overseeing production, then we come to the UK to build awareness of our brand and to be inspired by the UKs awesome festival summer scene.
Who would your ideal “celebrity” customer be?
Ugh, there’s too many to choose from, probably Vanessa Hudgens, Amber Heard and Kendall Jenner.
Have you ever wanted to quit and if so what kept you going?
Nope, not yet! There are definitely moments where things can get overwhelming, but there isn’t a moment in the day that we don’t love what we are doing.
What tips would you give someone looking to set up their own business?
Do it! Although your idea will no doubt constantly change over time, it’s still good to spend time perfecting your initial concept. Talk to as many people as you can, get advice, do research and then just got for it. As you grow, you learn.
If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently?
There are always going to be things that you think, ‘oh I wish we hadn’t have done that’ or ‘we should have done that differently’, but you can’t beat yourself up with mistakes. It’s all one big learning curve – even the most experienced business people make errors.
As we know, you were friends before setting up Narlaka – how has it been to run a business with your friend?
Amazing – we bounce off each other and it’s great to have someone you love and trust constantly there to listen. When one of us is having an off day, the other one picks up the work – it’s great to have someone there to release the pressure if needed.
What would you say each of your strengths are within the business?
We complement each other completely. Jess’ background is in design and styling, whereas Amy’s is in marketing and business, but we both contribute to every aspect of the company.
What has been your biggest achievement so far with Narlaka?
We were pretty excited to see Jade from Little Mix rocking one of your shaggy jackets – Jess came across it on Instagram randomly. Anne Marie [who used to be Rudiementals’ lead singer] also wore a jacket whilst headlining a festival, which for us as avid festival goers, was pretty special.
What do you enjoy most about running your brand?
Being our own boss – the freedom to choose our own hours and do what we want, when we want.
How do you unwind when you aren’t working on Narlaka?
Depending on where we are… long beach walks and yummy dinners with our friends sipping on rum cocktails.
What motivates you to get out bed every day?
Nasty Gal’s success… What a woman! We also want to spread the ‘narlakvibes’ worldwide – people these days struggle with confidence due to the pressures of everyday life so if we can bring a bit of ‘je ne sais quoi’ to someone every day, that’s a pretty good achievement!
Forever grateful to have such cool and unique brands on our site, SilkFred always try to search for those brands that have something different to offer, brands that have an interesting story to tell which explains why their products are so special. We hope you enjoyed reading this as much as we did writing it.
Ciao for now, SF Team X