This is a time of a lot of uncertainty that none of us ever expected or imagined. I think many feel that we are stuck in a nightmare and hopefully one morning we will wake up and it will be over. I do believe that this time we have is a good time to reflect on the past and prepare for the future. Keeping these thoughts in mind, it is a good time to spend time with loved ones, which may never come back. It’s also a great time to work on bettering ourselves and finding new things we can learn as well start enjoying hobbies we may have not had time to.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bindya Lulla and Vikki Gandhi.
A New York transplant, Vikki Gandhi comes from a luxury manufacturing background, and has developed new lines of business for brands such as Burberry, Elie Tahari and Henri Bendel. Longtime resident of the Upper East Side, Vikki has two young children. Together Bindya and Vikki formed JustGlowNYC, a clean-conscious, cruelty-free beauty company in 2019, featured in 200+ stores around the country.
A New Yorker born and raised, Bindya Lulla has a successful accessories line under her own name carried at stores such as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Lord and Taylor, Anthropologie and many more. Bindya has two teens and has seen it all in her 25-year fashion career at the heart of New York City.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Bindya Lulla: I started as an intern at Kate Spade, while the company was small and run by the 3 partners. I slowly ended up getting a full-time job there. Working with Kate and studying fashion accessories at the Fashion Institute of Technology gave me an amazing understanding of the accessories world. I soon started my own small business designing handbags at the age of 20. My first order was from Henri Bendel and I felt I had arrived! I soon learned it was not all that easy… One thing led to the next and 25 years later we now have a full-fledged fashion accessory and beauty company and are constantly working on adding newness! The key is believing in yourself and having an open mind to reinvent yourself every step of the way.
Vikki Gandhi: Sure! I’ve always had more of a creative/business mindset, heavily influenced by my family’s stories of starting new as immigrants, in countries around the world after the India-Pakistan partition. My foray into the Beauty world was borne completely by chance, out of a true passion and curiosity for ingredients and products that would help my acne-riddled skin. Having been a sufferer since the age of 11, I’ve tried every remedy, medicine, and doctor in the book! Bindya and I connected over the idea to form an accessibly-priced and cruelty-free skincare brand that spoke to skin concerns, while still being fun to use (and selfie)! Our main mission is to show others that not only are you just great the way you are (we don’t photoshop, and most of our models are just regular people) but that it shouldn’t cost a fortune to properly care for your skin!
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Bindya Lulla: I recently finished Becoming by Michelle Obama- I enjoyed this book because I think most women could relate to her in some way or another. The book portrayed how real she is and that really resonated with me.
Vikki Gandhi: Love this! I’d say Shantaram by Gregory Davis Roberts, and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand are two books that profoundly affected me. The examples of persistence, listening to your intuition, and adapting to every curveball thrown, have both solidified my beliefs and helped me through tough times. Can I please list a specific podcast?! The interview Joe Rogan did with Naval Ravikanth is worth listening to, and repeating — Mind blowing!
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons to Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
Bindya Lulla & Vikki Gandhi:
I think we have all seen firsthand the fragility of life, and how quickly the world has been brought to its knees. I know there’s a lot of tragedy, loss of life, and of livelihoods. I have to be positive that we are going to all come out of this awful time OK.
1. I hope that our kids will be happier having spent more time as a family. I’m certainly enjoying the extra time we have together without the daily activity of a fully-packed schedule.
2. That we will be more caring towards others, having seen our friends and neighbors go through this as one.
3. That we will be more conscious of how our actions affect the environment. Just thinking about the additional hygiene measures we now take, has opened my eyes to how easy it is to transfer or protect ourselves from harmful germs and chemicals!
4. That we will be healthier, having been forced to cook almost every meal. I know takeout was a big feature in my life, and I am enjoying being more thoughtful of what’s on our plates, and of using up leftovers.
5. That we will put balance in life first, including our physical and mental health. I think a lot of people and businesses are now realizing that having a flexible schedule results in being happier and that the traditional model doesn’t work anymore.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Bindya Lulla: This is a time of a lot of uncertainty that none of us ever expected or imagined. I think many feel that we are stuck in a nightmare and hopefully one morning we will wake up and it will be over. I do believe that this time we have is a good time to reflect on the past and prepare for the future. Keeping these thoughts in mind, it is a good time to spend time with loved ones, which may never come back. It’s also a great time to work on bettering ourselves and finding new things we can learn as well start enjoying hobbies we may have not had time to. I am loving cooking right now for my family. It’s a hobby that helps me unwind. I’ve been taking two zoom cooking classes with friends every week which has been extremely relaxing and fun at the same time. I truly believe that we cant change this situation, and being anxious is not going to help anyone. We all just need to use this time as best as we can to better our lives on the whole.
Vikki Gandhi: 1.) Stay Connected: Ironically, after all the bad press social media gets (much of it warranted) I feel like it does make it so easy to stay connected to those you love, to reach out to others, to distract yourself, to learn new skills. I use it to reach out or put a little humor in someone’s day. It can be soothing to share a laugh over a meme!
2.) Practice Gratitude: It sounds so eye-rollingly cliche, I know. But I also know too well the feeling of being stuck in a sad state, and feeling unable to pull yourself out. For the past few years, I’ve made it a point to wake up and list the blessings we have in life, putting a big “thank you” out to the universe. I repeat this process at the end of the day just before I sleep. It’s been very helpful to keep me focused on the good in life, especially now.
3.) Appreciative Actions: I never miss the 7.00 pm call to applaud our health heroes. It makes me feel happy, I like waving to my neighbors in the building across the street, and in a city like New York, where we live on top of each other but are usually too busy to bother with one another, it’s a special moment of grounding, and connecting for one cause. It’s uplifting and makes me feel like we ARE in this together, we WILL get through this and come out stronger.
4.) Movement: Get out of your space. If you can take a walk, do it (but protect yourself). If you can find a space in your home to indulge in a little exercise, please do so! Many wonderful studios have gone virtual, making the contagious energy of group fitness accessible to everyone. In particular, I love Rumble Boxing and Physique57, and I have set up a small area in my kids’ room to escape for any amount of exercise I can get.
5.) Turn Off & Tune Out: Sure it’s important to stay abreast of developments. But the news is scary and can be sensational. Now I set a time to put my phone away, and instead of watching the latest headlines, I’m currently making my way through every Bond movie ever made with a detoxifying face mask on and indulging in a good book 30 mins before bed. Just take a break at night from the news cycle and from the temptation to discuss it constantly with family and friends.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
Bindya Lulla: I’ve never been one to meditate, but I do practice yoga breathing every day, even if its for 15 minutes. It completely centers me. I think finding something that you can do alone for even 10 to 15 minutes really helps with anxiety.
Vikki Gandhi: I really like the Calm app, and it’s kiddie counterpart, Moshi. They’re great for grounding, deep breathing, and spacing out.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Bindya Lulla: Never give up and keep reinventing yourself. I started my business when I was 20 years old with my husband. We have been through many ups and downs. Our strength as a team has been turning all the difficult times into our strength and reinventing ourselves.
Being in the fashion business, which is always changing and evolving, I’ve learned that it’s most important to be willing to reinvent yourself. I started my career when I was 20 as a handbag designer. Being so young, I struggled a lot and a few years later I became part of a scarf trend. I had to choose with either sticking it out as a handbag designer or becoming a business person with this trend I fell into, which made me realize I had to reinvent myself to grow.
Vikki Gandhi: “A person who is well, wants 1000 different things, A person who is sick only wants one thing.” I think this is a powerful thought because it immediately puts the important things into perspective. We are all so busy chasing success in its various forms (perhaps even more so in a highly competitive place like New York), and this cuts through all the bs we usually get caught up in.
You are people of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Bindya Lulla: I still feel I have a long way to go, this is only the beginning. I’d love to answer this question in another 10 years 🙂
Vikki Gandhi: Hah! I don’t know how much influence I have with anyone, considering I can’t even get my 5-year-old to finish his virtual learning assignments! I would love to work more with NGO’s helping girls around the world with literacy, education, and women’s rights. So that’s definitely on the horizon — watch this space!
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!