We have an affinity towards female entrepreneurs, especially the ones that make shoes! So we spoke to Veena Ashiya, who after working with Versace and Tommy Hilfiger in New York moved back to India to launch Monrow – the fastest growing shoe brand in the country.
Runway Square: What inspired you to come back to India?
Veena Ashiya: India is my motherland. I love the culture, compassion, and warmth people have here. My soul feels this is my tribe. I had to come back to where I truly belong.
RSQ: New York or Bangalore?
VA: Tough one. My mind likes New York for its larger than life persona, buzzing with newness and how the city blends the art of fashion with business. My soul loves Bangalore for its new city vibes, you feel like you can create things here.
RSQ: Five things you miss the most about New York and would like travellers to explore?
VA: People – ‘Data scientists who play jazz at the weekend’ that kind of people.
Parks – Central Park can be Disney land for someone who loves being outdoors.
Art – My soul could attain nirvana in MOMA- kind of art that makes you happy.
Food Experiments – Hell’s Kitchen has cooking studios where chefs come and play around with food. Oh my, that can be quite an experience like French and Thai mixed together.
Dance – Loved the freestyle hip-hop in Harlem to central park where young ballet artists you dance their hearts out.
RSQ: Three places to shop in New York only the locals know about?
VA: Opening ceremony- it was like a launch pad for lots of emerging designers. Versace launched a new line called ‘Versus’ there.
Pleats Please- If I had to be born again I would like to be Issey Miyake and that whole store could be mine. ( a bit of fashion greed playing there)
The Sunday Flee market at Brooklyn – some of my favourite vintage steals in my wardrobe are from there.
RSQ: If you could carry only one pair of shoes on your travels, what would that be and why?
VA: I love my Monrow Convertible Sneakers. They come with 3 add-on elements – a striped patch for nautical holiday feel, a metallic grey patch that would go great with a smokey eye evening look and tone on tone white patch for my hustler mode.
RSQ: A pair of shoes you love the most?
VA: It has to be the Monrow Shapeshifter heels! I’ve always believed that shoe designs should bring about the freedom of movement.
And these super versatile heels with elastic straps do just that. They can be wrapped in 3 different ways!
It is almost like a shoe version of a multi-way wrap dress that can be worn as toga, tube or a classic wrap dress.
RSQ: Tell us about your experience with Versace and Tommy Hilfiger in three words each.
VA: Versace was like Hunger Games. Once you are in a top luxury brand team you have to bring your A game every day. Tommy Hilfiger, on the other hand, was Like Modern Family. Very enriching. It was my first job and I am grateful to have had some amazing mentors there.
RSQ: What is your dream for Monrow shoes?
VA: My Dream is to make Monrow shoes reach every young active woman’s closet and let her celebrate her life with dance. The aim is to bring true freedom of movement with great designs.
RSQ: Your favourite places in the world for shoe shopping?
VA: Tokyo- If you are a sneakerhead, then book your tickets to Japan right away. The Japanese mix sneakers with futuristic inspirations. It is a heady mix of liberating designs!
Paris- Hands down the land of quirks. Heels with candies on top, mules which look like they star in Harry Potter.
Positano (Italy)- For all you GOT fans, Positano will bring the Khaleesi out of you! The shoes there are grand, powerful and flamboyant!
RSQ: If you could define Monrow’s journey through a verse by Rumi what would it be?
VA: I am a closet rap artist and Rumi has inspired me. Rephrasing his holy words here,
“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life
Why not put on shoes that make you dance and fly”
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