Adding a touch of love to the decor of every curated meal is what Nama's Nayantara Sangtani and Maitri Shah excel at
It takes little to show someone you care. Sometimes, it takes as little as listening to them. Nayantara Sangtani and Maitri Shah, best friends, soul sisters and business partners, have built their relationship, and their business, on this premise. Co-founders of Nama, a boutique event styling firm, the two focus on "research-based" decor. Which means that "we sit down with a client, understand their taste and style, and try to incorporate it in the work we do," says Sangtani. "We make sure it's personalised to the T. We're not like large decor companies, who focus on general decor, or who reuse their decor. [With us], everything is intimate and tailor-made."
Twenty-five years old, they have a couple of management degrees (from Polimoda in Florence for Sangtani, and Duke in North Carolina for Shah), and about 50 curated events under their belts. These include brand experiences, sit-down dinners for corporates, date nights and yacht proposals. In the last six months, they have amassed two kinds of clients: clued-up brands, such as BMW, Jimmy Choo, WeWork and Villeroy & Boch; and "clueless" men. "So many times, they're like, 'Help us out,'" says Sangtani. Their services are essentially sought out when customers, or sweethearts, need to be impressed.
Nayantara Sangtani and Maitri Shah. Pic/Ashish Raje
"A jewellery label wanted to celebrate a regular client's birthday," says Shah. "We did our research and knew she loved Florence. So, we transformed the jewellery boutique into a dinner space. And it wasn't just a dinner table laid out with floral centrepieces. We created a floral market, we used bulb strings, [paired] Italian food with wine and the right music. When they walked in, they were like, 'Are we in Mumbai?'" For a Valentine's Day event at Soho House, they borrowed from La La Land. "There was a jazz band, and the ceiling was filled with lights, which literally felt like dinner under the stars." Because, "We want you to walk in and say, 'Wow.'"
Which doesn't always mean razzmatazz. Depending on the brief, they can also bring a light, classy touch to their styling. For Gauri Devidayal, owner of The Table, who was hosting a farm-to-table brunch at her farmhouse in Alibaug, they crossed the narrow sea to source flowers and veggies grown in the backyard. The centrepiece was bougainvilleas matched with halved beetroots and whole lettuce leaves. Devidayal, a repeat customer, says, "What I like most about their work is the creativity and freshness of ideas they bring to the table, which comes across very prominently in their minimalistic decor and styling."
While curating tableware, their services are certainly for those born with a silver spoon. "We want to cater to a certain kind of clients," says Shah. "We've positioned ourselves in a way that not everybody can afford us, not everybody has an eye for us. It's a niche market. One broadcasting company reached out to us and said, 'Our clients want something that money cannot buy. That's why we want to invest in experiences.' People who have all the money in the world can buy whatever they want, but they can't buy the feeling of..." Sangtani finishes her sentence, "feeling special." So, they focus "on the tiny things." As Shah says, "When the host has taken that kind of effort to get to know you, it has a direct effect on sales. Customers would return because they know that, as a company, you care so much about your clients." It's a philosophy they have implemented, quite successfully, in their own business.
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