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Female founded luxury scarf brand Shaku and International Women’s Day go hand in hand

luxury-scarf-brand-Shaku-founder-Shakera-Tayub-interview-for-IWD

Meet Shakera Tayub – the founder behind luxury scarf brand Shaku putting a vibrant, multicultural twist on timeless floral designs. Her journey from Mumbai to the British countryside informs both her artisanal aesthetics and her mission to create sustainable slow fashion that stands the test of time. 

In our PA Life International Women’s Day exclusive, Shakera gives us a glimpse into the experiences shaping her inclusive, conscious approach to the world of luxury textiles as she continues to carve her own path as a female entrepreneur and mother. 

There’s no better way to commemorate Women’s History Month (March) and International Women’s Day which takes place on the 8th of March 2024, with this inspirational interview conducted by Dakota Murphey. Here is Shakera’s story:

How did your move to the British countryside influence and shape your creative outlook over the years?

The countryside exposed me to the baroque detail of British fauna. Delicate daisies, regal poppies, calming chamomile, and raging wildflowers combine in a rich composition of ineffable beauty. Nowhere else in the world contains bucolic idylls unspoiled by sprawling suburbia, but left in meditative stillness.

What motivated you to reignite your artistic passions later in life by pursuing further education in art and design?

My motivation lay in my surroundings or, to be more specific, the shifts in my surroundings. My artistic passions never dwindled but were reinvigorated by the revelation of the British countryside. I was driven by a desire to capture this beauty, but invigorate with a new-found zealous exoticism – and thus create art which reflects my journey in life.

With my motivation of reflecting on my journey, by imbuing a traditional verdant idyll with a subcontinent vivacity, I need a medium to carry and display this idea. Fortunately, my training meant I was well-versed in Print Design, which naturally lends itself to creating luxury scarves. Scarves allow for the projection of a tapestry, while also being versatile, easy-to-wear and of course ineffably aesthetic.

What drew you to textiles, design and art growing up in the vibrant backdrop of Mumbai?

My mum and aunt both worked as seamstresses and being around them meant I picked up on techniques and the intricacy of needlework. I left for England when I was nineteen years old, to raise my family.

What’s the journey of the luxury scarf brand Shaku been like?

I wanted to create wearable art, timeless pieces that were versatile and could be worn in many ways. Florals and floral design are classic, but I wanted to create pieces that could be adaptable and wearable, like scarves and accessories.

As a female founder, what challenges did you face in transforming your idea into a tangible business and product? How did you push through them?

As a female founder, many of my challenges came from being more mature than my competitors. All the brands I compete against are young and trying to stand out against that can be difficult.

Our designs are classic and timeless; they’re not modern and incredibly trendy like much of the market is. As we are a luxury brand, we aren’t aimed at the young audience that other brands are. Classic designs and slow fashion isn’t what everyone is looking for, and thus, we aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Our aim is just to have enough people like our products and see their true beauty.

What challenges do you face now that the luxury scarf brand Shaku has been well established, and what, as a female entrepreneur, have you learned over the years to help you overcome them?

A lot of the challenge now is overcoming people’s preconceptions about me and the brand. They see me, with my hijab and the fact that we’re a British-Indian brand and assume all our products are made in India. But as a luxury brand, we strive for the best manufacturing and the most luxurious fabrics, so our products are made in Italy.

What does it mean to you to lead your own successful business as a woman in the luxury fashion space?

To me, it’s all about creating pieces people will love and enjoy, things they will pass down from generation to generation.

Starting Shaku has boosted my confidence. I was nervous at the start of creating the business as I had never done anything like this before. It hasn’t been an easy journey for me and it took some time to understand our customer. I started the company with my daughter to create products people would cherish.

What female mentors or role models do you feel have proven to be the biggest influence on your journey so far?

Gosh, I don’t know. I would say my family are my mentors and role models. My mum and my aunt, how they worked day-to-day and created such a community, that’s what inspires me and who I look up to.

How does your multicultural upbringing influence the ethos and aesthetic of Shaku?

If you look at our products you can see how vibrant and colourful they are. That’s the Indian influence – the colour and the vivid palette. It’s recognisable.

What are the values most dear to your heart?

I value the colour and how it’s created. It’s stunning and every shade, pattern and print has its own quintessential beauty.

What does the future hold for growing and expanding your luxury scarf brand Shaku?

There are lots of ways we can grow. Print is so versatile; we have loads of ideas and are always trying new techniques, new media and new styles. For now, it’s baby steps and we’re seeing what works well. We have our new card collections, and we plan to expand and grow some part of the company every year.

How do you maintain a work-life balance as a founder, business leader, and mother?

It’s a big challenge to maintain the balance. I was studying with my two daughters when they were at university, one was doing a foundation degree whilst I was doing post-graduate studies at the same place.

I’ve always been passionate about learning; I love to learn, and I want to go and study more in the future too if I can. It’s about getting life, work and family in harmony, which isn’t always easy but it’s doable.

What impact do you hope to have on the wider world for women in luxury fashion?

Luxury fashion is not about mass production. It’s not about overproducing products and I want to make an impact on the environmental aspect of the fashion space.

Shaku makes products to admire, timeless items and accessories people can pass down to their children. I think fashion should be more about long-lasting, quality pieces.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

As a brand founded by women, Shaku and International Women’s Day go hand in hand. It’s all about women standing out and making a difference.

International Women’s Day is all about power, women’s power. Running a family and a business is a powerful thing, it takes commitment and the ability to multitask, which women are very good at. I know women can do anything, they often just need someone to encourage them or give them a little push in the right direction. That vote of confidence is all they need. Women will, in my opinion, always be one step ahead of men. Men are powerful but they forget where that power comes from: it comes from women. We gave birth to them and so behind every powerful man is an equally powerful woman, we are just forgotten about.

Women go through so much, we have so many challenges, and to be able to deal with them is proof of how powerful we are.

I worked very hard to get where I am today, I had a lot of challenges and things standing in my way. It wasn’t straightforward. I wanted to create something, something beautiful, with my name on it. That is what Shaku is, that’s what our products are. 

See the beautiful scarfs, homeware and gifts on the Shaku shop.

Happy International Women’s Day!  Friday 8th March 2024

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