Our Journey: From India, and Back

It was exactly one year ago, when I met a woman at a coffee shop in San Francisco. I had an idea for a new venture, and an acquaintance recommended that we meet. What was supposed to be a casual coffee was more like a gruesome interview — having spent 14 years in the world of sustainability, she was skeptical of everything I said — yet there was a common bond that kept us talking. 

As I soon learned, Vrnda Dalal was born in the US, but to better understand her culture and how to combine it with her interest in the retail world, she moved to India and spent 3 years working and living with artisans in rural India. After returning to the US, this interest led her to Restoration Hardware where she ran social responsibility, and other known fashion retail brands, where she ran ethical sourcing initiatives.

Like Vrnda, my familial and cultural experiences influenced my interests as well. I grew up watching my parents find creative solutions to entrenched problems, always with an eye on their family, their business, and their community. I brought these lessons with me, first, into banking, and then to my own Indian clothing startup, and now into this new idea.

As we continued to get to know each other — as nerds and nomads in love with India, with a passion to tell the stories of the people we’ve met along the way, and with experience in sustainable retail — we decided to start Nomadory.

Nomadory was originally conceived as a curated consumer marketplace to highlight and elevate the beautiful work of our artisans, while making it easier for individuals to find their unique products. But as we started building our business model, we realized that there was something simpler, and more powerful at play that would allow us to work within the existing retail infrastructure. Thus our mission, based on years of experience, passion, and know-how, has become clear: our goal is to create a responsible digital ecosystem to make it easier for retailers to access a more robust, transparent, and diverse supply chain.

We have only just begun, and still have a long way to go, but as I reflect on our first year, I feel confident, grounded, and humbled by the team we have assembled, and their ability to navigate whatever may come our way. Because if there is one thing we know for certain, it is our responsibility to make the world a better place. An ode to those with us now, and to those who come after us.