Tête-à-tête with the Well-heeled Payal Parija

Quirky and cool, her attitude has the swag of Clint Eastwood and the warmth of a strong cup of cappuccino.  Helming an extremely popular blog called High Heel Confidential, her personal style quotient is enviable. Her proprietary hashtag (if there’s something like that) of #nevernotwearingsomethingdesi is an ode to Desi fashion, Desi designers, labels and entrepreneurs.

I would have had the privilege to meet her when she came to India earlier this year, but I reckon there’s always a next time.  

Her pithy Instagram captions exhibit her sense of humour in volumes.

A software coder by profession, HHC is known to get three times more traffic than the digital version of Vogue India (isn’t that amazing?!)

If one is featured on HHC, it means that one is stylish. So that means that I will never be on it.

As a Sustainability Blogger, I totally love the concept of Shopthatcloset.com, which is about purchasing pre-loved designer pieces.

 I love designer pieces but find their prices prohibitive. And if I can get that at a fraction of the original cost, I would totally go for it.

With a lot of nerve, I approached her for an interview on my Blog and she joyously complied with my request.

Here is an unadulterated Payal Parija for the readers of this blog.

You are a full time coder – and you’ve been running this successful blog for more than a decade. Where do you get your entrepreneurial spirit?  

Well, the Blog started out because Priyanka and I both loved fashion and movies and back then there was no website that targeted South Asian women. We started out as wanting to be a lifestyle blog but did a Kareena post once which garnered the most clicks. We quickly realized that this was an untapped area and pivoted right away. The entrepreneurial spirit wasn’t quite there but how to do business was a side-effect of running the blog. You quickly learn that in certain fields and ask for money up-front.

How did you come up with the name of your Blog?

Over a few glasses of wine. It was the same night that we decided, let’s start a blog. 

What’s your typical working day like? 

Business hours are spent on my day job. Our photographer in India sends us pics throughout the day. Once I am done with work, I get to making some posts for the blog. At this time Shop That Closet has taken a back seat but hoping to focus on it a bit more.

What’s your favourite fashion quote? 

“Buy what you don’t have yet, or what you really want, which can be mixed with what you already own. Buy only because something excites you, not just for the simple act of shopping” – Karl Lagerfeld.

Payal in an Ikat dress

You run two businesses. What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt from your businesses?  

For me personally, I have liked keeping both businesses small and close to me. Biggest lesson for me has been evaluating, is it worth my time. Especially with the blog. In the beginning, we used to do work where creating the content took more time than what you were paid for. Now, we are uber selective about who we say yes to. 

As for Shop That Closet, I love hunting for a good deal and talent that is in India and there was no space here in the US that focussed only on re-selling Indian brands and hence jumped on it. 

Buy what you don’t have yet, or what you really want, which can be mixed with what you already own. Buy only because something excites you, not just for the simple act of shopping” – Karl Lagerfeld

I have to ask you this – how did your love for the six yards begin?

Growing up, I used to see my Mom drape one every day for work in India and even when we moved to the Middle East. I used to wear saris on one-off occasions but it was only 4 years ago, that I decided to try to wear one every Sunday and do some justice to all the saris my Mom made me buy for my wedding. Once I started wearing, I became more and more curious about it and learning all the different weaves.

Getting involved with The Sari Series project was another highlight. I was happy that I/we (High Heel Confidential) could sponsor the Odisha Kuncha drape featuring the classic Bichitrapuri, given that I am from Odisha. And then came the idea of doing the Travelling Sari. It’s been a fun last few years enjoying wearing it and seeing everyone wear as well.

Payal Parija

Watch this space as we have 4 more to cover in this series.

Leave your comments below or write to me on sixyardsoffinery@gmail.com