If someone had told me a 60th Birthday trip with friends, to a destination I didn’t want to visit, would lead me to start a business full of beautiful designs, vibrant colours, and sumptuous fabrics… I wouldn’t have believed them! Let me tell you how that came to happen!
I’d taken early retirement at 55 after a successful career as a lawyer and was keeping myself busy honing my golf skills and immersing myself in committee activities. I had no idea that a vacation India in 2011 would lead me to start a business at a time in my life when most women are considering permanent retirement.
In recent years, my husband and I had enjoyed vacationing with close friends, and we made a pact that when each of us turned 60 the birthday celebrant would choose a destination for the four of us to visit – and the destination chosen was non-negotiable.
So, when my friend Jules chose India for her 60th Birthday vacation I was less than enthused. It certainly wasn’t “up there” on my list of places I wanted to visit in the world.
Arriving in Mumbai confirmed my worst pre-conceived fears – the heat, noise, traffic congestion and poverty was an assault on my senses, and I felt completely overwhelmed… and miserable.
However, as our trip continued and we explored other parts of the country, including the “Golden Triangle” (Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur) and the stunning region of Udaipur, the magical city of lakes, I discovered a whole different side to India which I loved.
The sea of colours, vast array of fabrics and designs drew us into the shops where we eagerly purchased some bags and block printed tablecloths which my friends in the UK loved. So much so that when a friend wanted to hold a garden party for her daughter’s 21st birthday she asked to borrow all my tablecloths which had other friends asking if I could buy for them if I visited India again. It wasn’t something I’d planned but it got me thinking. I'd been “retired” for over five years and frankly, I was getting bored. When you’ve been used to a busy fulfilling life, golf and the committee work just wasn’t cutting it. It was time for an adventure. And so, Rowan Charles came to be!
Since that first trip back in 2011 I’ve returned to India several times and by chance was introduced to an incredibly special lady named Shivali/Shivani who has been my trusted associate. Together we’ve sourced fabrics, and visited factories and, in my absence, she’s my eyes and ears in India. More importantly she’s become akin to an extended family member and we always receive the warmest of welcomes when we arrive, making every trip so memorable.
Every Rowan Charles creation is an authentic, responsibly sourced, and carefully selected garment. I want to bring you eye catching and colours and textures and offer exclusive, superbly handcrafted, unique designs, inspired by the beauty and splendour of India.
For more stories of our adventures and products, take a look at our Blog.