POOJA KHARBANDA IN NEW YORK, JANUARY 2017. MAKEUP: NARS SOFT MATTE COMPLETE CONCEALER IN GINGER.
Well-traveled from an early age, Pooja Kharbanda—the designer behind SoHo-based swimwear obsession 6 Shore Road—has evolved her aesthetic from the many cities she’s called home. “The original inspiration will always be the Hamptons and Sunset Beach,” she explains. “But whether from Hong Kong or from India or Panama, I didn’t realize at the beginning that the inspirations I was taking were just part of a natural process.” Cultures cross seamlessly in her vibrant, eclectic designs, taking anyone wearing them—or just popping into her store—back to Kharbanda’s happy place: the beach. As a face of Interview x NARS Cosmetics’ “The Art of Throwing Shade,” she reflects on turning from finance to fashion, employing an attitude of mindfulness in business, and keeping confidence in competitive industries.
STARTING OUT: I’ve basically had two careers. As a young girl I grew up in Hong Kong and Panama—I was born in India—and I always thought that I was going to go to fashion school. But my dad would be like, “No, you need to do something that’s going to pay the bills.” So I actually did finance during my undergrad at Florida State. Once I finished that I came to New York, and was like, “Either I’m going to go to graduate school now, or I’m going to start working.” But reality hit, so I started working and I was in banking for about eight to nine years. Then I had a little epiphany. I had gone through some struggles in my personal life, so it was the right time and I was like, “It’s either now or never.” While I was in banking I actually went to Parsons for two years. Then I quit my job and started interning at Showroom Seven. I was there for maybe three to six months. I knew the whole designing side—I would make my own clothes and paint—but I really didn’t know the business side. I learned a lot, from the sales side to PR, whatever you want to call it. I thought I was going to open up a retail store and put beachwear in it because I was always by the beach—whether it was in Panama or in Hong Kong, we would go to the beach every weekend and I grew up with that vibe. Instead of starting with a retail store, I started with a small collection ticket to Miami for fashion week. That was five years ago. It’s funny, when I used to travel internationally with my visa, you had to put in your occupation. I was still in banking and once I got all my paperwork done, I was like, “Okay, I’m just going to close my eyes and think of my dream job.” And I would just put fashion designer. [laughs]
ON SEXISM: Being in banking, I was used to dealing with a lot of situations like this. I have to say that in fashion, I’ve been lucky enough not to have had to face too many of those situations. I think that the universe probably had me going to that career for a reason. As long as you speak confidently and are knowledgable about what you’re speaking, and you’re open to opinions and to what others have to say, you will come off as confident and face less situations like that. But people on the business side can be condescending. They’ll definitely ask you certain questions or mention certain things assuming that you may not know that verbiage. If I say “like” a few times, they may think I might not understand the business side.
FEELING EMPOWERED: One of the things that I do personally is meditate every day. It’s at least 20 minutes. I always say, “Meditation is better than facials.” Back when I started 6 Shore Road, I went through this personal situation and it was a really tough position for me and my family, so that’s why I started meditating, and that’s when I started the brand. Meditation has really helped a long way. It keeps you positive, and I do it with my staff once a week. The other thing I think is good to do is just empowering other women or other men, especially in the industry or people who I come across. I think that there’s not a lot of cross-positivity. I’m really conscious about that. I ask for the universe to give me positive energy, and whether that translates into success for the brand or my personal life, I’ll let that happen as it may.
BEAUTY AND CONFIDENCE: I’ve always said that perception is key. How people see you, how people hear you, is their first takeaway of you. I, for example, like to have fun at the beach; I want it to be a fun brand, I want it to be very effortless. That’s how I want to dress when I’m at the beach, so I want it to be perceived as very relaxing and effortless. When I go into a business meeting, I like to dress in a way that’ll show that I am confident or that I know what I’m speaking about—that if you’d see me, you’d understand 6 Shore Road and the story behind it. I don’t wear a suit or anything, but as long as I’m confident with my style, that’s all that matters.
FOR MORE FROM “THE ART OF THROWING SHADE,” CLICK HERE.