Clutch City with Simran Rihal
Asking Simran Rihal, the creative director of the Simran Rihal Collection, to pick her favorite clutch from her collection of 12, is a bit like asking this mother of twins to choose between her children. Instead, she strategically offers an answer: “My favorites are the silver grey Etoile clutch that Blake Lively carried, and I also love Navy Astra with gunmetal”. (Pinch me please).
Growing up in a very small town in Rajasthan, India she attended an amazing school called Waverley in Mussoorie, a city in the foothills of the Himalayas. At Waverley, Rihal met students from other countries who opened her eyes to what was out there including fashion. “It really was a major turning point in my life”.
“I had typical Indian parents, and after high school, I did not have the courage to tell them I would like to go to fashion school, because it was not something they would have encouraged,” she explains. “So I chose to follow my other love and studied English Literature, but fashion always stayed with me. When my kids started school full-time, I had some time to indulge myself. I started Elan Couture, a line of embellished tunics and evening bags,” nostalgically relates Rihal. Elan was quite successful for a few years, but it involved a lot of travel and time away from the family, so she decided to put it on hold. She also felt she had a lot to learn. “I went to fashion school and took some design classes to study the technical stuff behind it.”
Simran’s story is one of perseverance, passion, and hard work. From concept to production, it has taken her two years of researching and sourcing of materials, traveling, and attending trade-shows to build her business. “I wanted something unique, and finally found the right leather for the brand. I recall asking myself, ‘why am I even bothering with this?’ It’s so much work and stress, and you may not even succeed,” says Simran. “I snapped out of it and started the process all over again. I am glad I did, because I now have a product I’m really proud of,” she says.
Her passion for clutches is driven by the idea of something one can have fun with, add a little sparkle to, and elevate. “I felt there were very few lines that made standout pieces. I love a clutch that makes a statement, it doesn’t have to be loud and obnoxious, but something that is unique that attracts attention in a beautiful way, and fits my smartphone,” she chuckles.
Are you scared of making mistakes? “Hmm, let me think. Yes I am scared of making mistakes, but it’s not just about the mistakes. Creativity is also relative. One person’s masterpiece could be another person’s trash. Creating a product is so personal, it’s pretty scary putting yourself out there. You feel so vulnerable, but here I am with my instinct to do my best, and follow my heart.”
Photos By Kris D. Photography (Krista Davenport)