Anjana Das, Founder and Creative Director WHITE CHAMPA
By Alexandra Paucescu.
Diplomatic life often gives you the chance for memorable encounters, fine and interesting people that you will be grateful you had the opportunity to meet.
When she enters the room, you first notice her dark, sparkling eyes and her exotic beauty…then she talks, confident and relaxed.
Meet Anjana Das, born in Braunschweig, Germany from Indian highly educated parents, the pure definition of a global citizen of today. Smart, cheerful, energetic and friendly, it takes just a glance to figure out that she is really one of a kind. Within the diplomatic circle she is the supportive and full of initiative spouse… but she is so much more!
With her surprising resume she could impress anyone. She has postgraduate degrees in ‘South-Asian Studies’, ‘German Literature’ and ‘Political Science’ and co-authored a book about ‘Racially Motivated Crime in Europe’. But with her family’s first posting abroad, to India, her destiny called for a full turn-around in her career.
‘I had the great opportunity to meet Jean-Francois Lesage, the renowned French embroiderer and we became friends’, she recalls. ‘He recognized what was in fact always inside me, my passion for design, my artistic eye and he supported and encouraged me to follow my heart’
So, she soon started working with him, designing embroidery for interiors, for almost 15 years, working from all over the world. You could say that she mastered the art of reinvention and the secret of having a portable career, what is in fact the dream to many of us, diplomatic spouses. Of course, maybe she had the chance to meet the right people along the way, to start ‘big’ from the beginning, but we all know that talent speaks often by itself… and Anjana is a monument of talent, for sure!
She did interior design for office buildings, foreign residencies, wherever her husband’s job took them on the Globe.
‘Travelling is always a privilege. I take every move as an adventure, an opportunity that not all of us have, to meet new people, discover new places, to learn more’.
Indeed, she took advantage of every new destination and made the best out of it. In Thailand she learned pattern design, in the Philippines she started creating jewelry, but it was New Delhi that inspired her to start her own company, ‘White Champa’, almost 15 years ago.
‘I was drawing my designs in my garden, under these marvelous, fragrant trees called ‘champa’. Their beautiful white flowers offered me the inspiration in choosing the perfect name for my clothing company.’
What started out of pure passion and talent, transformed into an international brand, with affiliated stores in Canada, Japan and India and worldwide distribution. She tells me candidly: ‘With each destination, I bring different elements to my designs, I get inspired. To me, clothes are more than just fashion, I look at them from a sociological point of view, I look at history and human relations.’ White Champa produces unique clothes, handmade and carefully crafted, with great attention to detail.
‘Working with passion at something of your own provides continuity in this diplomatic life of ours. But it is not easy to keep up, to manage a business from the distance and, in the same time, to fulfill diplomatic assignments. Of course, nowadays technology helps tremendously. Also, I am forever grateful to my husband for all his constant support, for encouraging me when thigs were rough and also for carefully choosing his foreign postings, so that I’d be closer to my business as well. That’s why I would give an advice to others, at the beginning of this diplomatic road: don’t think you cannot design your own life while accompanying your husbands! In fact, my company initiated BECAUSE I was abroad.’
She says that maybe she could have achieved more, she could have continued with her academic career, maybe she doesn’t have a ‘catchy’ business card, full of pompous titles, but she is certainly proud of what she has achieved, when she looks back.
‘I feel good about my life… I lived interesting times, I built a solid business and a wonderful family. In the end, I think you can judge your success in life by the impact you had on others.’
Smart words from an inspiring woman, living proof that anything is possible when passion, talent and determination are involved.
Go for it, don’t be discouraged, dream big! After all, sky is the limit!
About the author:
Alexandra Paucescu- Romanian, Management graduate with a Master in Business, studied Cultural Diplomacy and International Relations.
She speaks Romanian, English, French, German and Italian. Turned diplomatic spouse by the age of 30, she published a book about diplomatic life, writes articles and also gives lectures on intercultural communication.