Camila Belloso worked at highly coveted jobs at Conde Nast and the Marie Claire / Cosmopolitan group before a chance move to India inspired her to found Naylila.
Camila, how did you get into fashion? Was it always a childhood dream?
My mother. She had an amazing collection of bags, shoes and clothing that was fascinating to me. She was definitely the inspiration. In fact, just last week, I went to a wedding and my entire outfit was from her hand-me-downs: pieces that she bought at least 20+ years ago. I fell in love with gorgeous fabrics and beautiful designs that could last forever.
I didn’t go to design or fashion school although I did take a number of summer courses that were centered around fashion. At university, I studied communications and incredibly, my first job was at Conde Nast in the Spain office. It was my dream job and I loved it. After a few years, my boss moved to a different magazine (Marie Claire / Cosmopolitan family), and I decided to move with him.
Working in the fashion glossies is a dream for so may. Can you talk a little bit about the reality of working there?
Of course it was very difficult. It's ultra competitive, requires a very strong work ethic, and getting promoted was tough. Plus, the pay was dismal. It can be very fulfilling and you definitely learn a ton from the best but you do get over the fantasy pretty fast!
Why did you move to Jaipur? What was the catalyst for the move?
My father was in the jewelry business and a big part of his business was in India. A business associate of his extended an open invitation for me to stay and work in Jaipur if I was ever interested. After a few years of working myself to the bone, I needed a break. I needed a change of scenery. I’ve always loved nature and the natural space, so it felt like a great opportunity. Perhaps there was a way for me to figure out a way to combine fashion with nature. Plus, I was young! And that's how I ended up moving to Jaipur.
That must have been quite the change.
Absolutely. The jewelry store I was working at is one of the biggest and famous stores. I was introduced to some really cool clients and the social life was amazing. Beautiful parties, amazing dinners… But it was an intense schedule. Because the summers are so hot, a lot of businesses take the summer off. As a result, outside of the summer, we worked everyday and had zero vacation. I’m also a yoga teacher and was able to spend some time exploring that.
When did you start thinking about your own brand?
It was very serendipitous. I met a Columbian woman who had her own brand and she took me a market. If you’ve never been to an Indian market, it’s an incredible sensory experience. The fabrics, the techniques, the embroidery, the smells, the sounds… It’s an amazing creative experience and it was the spark that I got me going.
Tell us about your first piece.
It was the Potli bag, the bag with mirrors. I adore these bags but it’s actually quite tough to find an authentic one with real mirrors. A lot of them are made in China with plastic instead of mirrors. I spent a year perfecting it. Once I finished, the creativity just started coming in waves. I started to seeing other beautiful things and wanted to create pieces that mixed the oriental with the occidental.
Tell us about your design inspiration. Where does the brand aesthetic come from?
I wanted to maintain the traditions of the artisans in Jaipur. Working with fabrics and textiles is the livelihood for many of them and they are so incredibly skilled. I wanted to figure out a way to showcase their skills while maintaining their traditions. I work a lot with silks and other natural fibers, most of which are sourced from India and all of my production is based there as well.
In terms of design, I really design for myself. I love being comfortable and fabulous at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind form-fitting pieces but there’s something wonderful about wearing something freeing and I want other women to have that feeling too. Plus, the garments are so versatile. You can wear them as a beach coverup and then go for dinner at a restaurant.