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My Story - Shelley

Posted by Shan Won on
My Story

Shelley Nandkeolyar Co-CEO
Collector, Curator and Storyteller

My very first childhood memories are from the time we lived in Assam on a Tea Estate. The garden I remember best is Hatikulli Tea Estate – neighboring the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve - www.kaziranga-national-park.com . I still have vivid images of taking elephant rides, with friends and family through the forest and seeing tigers, rhinos, wild boars, deer, and other smaller wild animals. In fact, we could see grazing rhinos from the verandah of our chunk-bungalow (elevated house on steel girders) – awesome and frightening, all at once!

My Story

Shelley Nandkeolyar
Co-CEO
Collector, Curator and Storyteller

My very first childhood memories are from the time we lived in Assam on a Tea Estate. The garden I remember best is Hatikulli Tea Estate – neighboring the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve - www.kaziranga-national-park.com . I still have vivid images of taking elephant rides, with friends and family through the forest and seeing tigers, rhinos, wild boars, deer, and other smaller wild animals. In fact, we could see grazing rhinos from the verandah of our chunk-bungalow (elevated house on steel girders) – awesome and frightening, all at once!

Sunrise over Kanchenjunga from Tiger Hill

Some of my most memorable visits were to my father’s ancestral home – and while the visits were short – it was filled with parties, get togethers and late nights with lots of story telling and laughter.

It was a lively fun place to visit. My father’s ancestral home was a rambling big compound, with the extended joint family living in various buildings that were all interconnected with courtyards. It was a great place to be inquisitive – the homes were full of incredible antiquities, carvings, and distinctive pieces of furniture.

As a child I travelled quite extensively with my parents – we took an annual trip away from the remoteness of the Tea Estates. I imagine for my parents to regain sanity and a sense of reality.

We would travel to other parts of India – mostly across to Gaya – Bodh Gaya (my father’s ancestral home, and the place where Buddha attained nirvana) and then on to Agra (my mother’s ancestral home was in Aligarh and Agra), and then to Delhi and on occasion on to Dharamshala and Kulu. We also travelled to Europe and the UK once every 3 years – this was part of an extended “home-leave” program every planter earned for every three years of continued service, even though England was not home!

As a child I travelled quite extensively with my parents – we took an annual trip away from the remoteness of the Tea Estates. I imagine for my parents to regain sanity and a sense of reality.

We would travel to other parts of India – mostly across to Gaya – Bodh Gaya (my father’s ancestral home, and the place where Buddha attained nirvana) and then on to Agra (my mother’s ancestral home was in Aligarh and Agra), and then to Delhi and on occasion on to Dharamshala and Kulu. We also travelled to Europe and the UK once every 3 years – this was part of an extended “home-leave” program every planter earned for every three years of continued service, even though England was not home!

Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya, India.
The site where Buddha attained enlightenment.

Our family had close ties with the Maharaj of Tikari, and my great-grand father, followed by my grand father were both the financial consiglieri to the Maharaj, but also the principal Jaghirdar – and treasurer to the royal family. My grandfather was an accomplished well-traveled person who liked shikhars (hunting expeditions) cars, the good life and travel. Our ancestral home was well preserved and some of my grand-father’s prized possessions graced the home.

Exquisitely and tastefully selected items, home furniture and curios, and commissioned furniture by craftsmen from across India and beyond. He had silverware commissioned by Finnigan’s in England and in his lifetime wore custom made suits from Saville Row and had an extended Armoire and Wardrobe with the family crest on it! I think this may have been where I first developed my love of home décor.

Some of my most memorable visits were to my father’s ancestral home – and while the visits were short – it was filled with parties, get togethers and late nights with lots of story telling and laughter.

It was a lively fun place to visit. My father’s ancestral home was a rambling big compound, with the extended joint family living in various buildings that were all interconnected with courtyards. It was a great place to be inquisitive – the homes were full of incredible antiquities, carvings, and distinctive pieces of furniture.

Darjeeling, India

Our family had close ties with the Maharaj of Tikari, and my great-grand father, followed by my grand father were both the financial consiglieri to the Maharaj, but also the principal Jaghirdar – and treasurer to the royal family. My grandfather was an accomplished well-traveled person who liked shikhars (hunting expeditions) cars, the good life and travel. Our ancestral home was well preserved and some of my grand-father’s prized possessions graced the home. Exquisitely and tastefully selected items, home furniture and curios, and commissioned furniture by craftsmen from across India and beyond. He had silverware commissioned by Finnigan’s in England and in his lifetime wore custom made suits from Saville Row and had an extended Armoire and Wardrobe with the family crest on it! I think this may have been where I first developed my love of home décor.

We eventually left the garden life in late 60’s and moved to Calcutta briefly. Initially I continued my studies at a boarding school in Darjeeling and then for a brief time, at a school in Calcutta before departing to Mauritius in 1972 for a 5-year stay.

My love for travel, exploration and discovery and my appreciation for things different really developed in the years that followed as I lived in Mauritius. My teenage years were about playing soccer, hanging out at the beach, and visiting different parts of Africa and keeping my grade – what a life! This cemented my curiosity for the world and a life of endless travel … I returned to India to attend St. Stephen’s College in Delhi (3rd Generation), graduated, and went to work for a bit in India and then promptly departed to take jobs and live in the Middle East, Hong Kong, Canada and then the US.

We eventually left the garden life in late 60’s and moved to Calcutta briefly. Initially I continued my studies at a boarding school in Darjeeling and then for a brief time, at a school in Calcutta before departing to Mauritius in 1972 for a 5-year stay.

My love for travel, exploration and discovery and my appreciation for things different really developed in the years that followed as I lived in Mauritius. My teenage years were about playing soccer, hanging out at the beach, and visiting different parts of Africa and keeping my grade – what a life! This cemented my curiosity for the world and a life of endless travel … I returned to India to attend St. Stephen’s College in Delhi (3rd Generation), graduated, and went to work for a bit in India and then promptly departed to take jobs and live in the Middle East, Hong Kong, Canada and then the US.

Island of Mauritius

I started my career as a marketer and then found a way back to my true passion – products and merchandising – in the apparel and home décor arena.

I have reimagined my world as a merchant and have enjoyed being a hands-on product purveyor – from the exotic to the practical. Nothing gives me more joy to shop the alleys, gullies, stalls, bazars, souks, and markets of the world. Visiting little shops around and going to small artisanal workshops, and hidden factories around the world is an adventure and at the same time an incredible journey of discovery … finding a little treasure, a beautiful scarf, a rare piece of jewelry, chinoiserie furniture pieces or a small carving, I am passionate about every little item of beauty in the product arena ….
Collecting has become a thing!

I started my career as a marketer and then found a way back to my true passion – products and merchandising – in the apparel and home décor arena.

I have reimagined my world as a merchant and have enjoyed being a hands-on product purveyor – from the exotic to the practical. Nothing gives me more joy to shop the alleys, gullies, stalls, bazars, souks, and markets of the world. Visiting little shops around and going to small artisanal workshops, and hidden factories around the world is an adventure and at the same time an incredible journey of discovery … finding a little treasure, a beautiful scarf, a rare piece of jewelry, chinoiserie furniture pieces or a small carving, I am passionate about every little item of beauty in the product arena ….
Collecting has become a thing!

Along the way I got married, had kids, and furnished many homes as we moved around the US – living in San Francisco, Manhattan, Atlanta, Chicago, and Portland! We have friends and relatives spread across the world and enjoy the opportunity to travel and meet with them and share their cultures and local customs. Along the way and in my personal journey, I also got to work with several exciting global brands like Porsche, Levi’s, Williams-Sonoma, Martha Stewart, and The Home Depot to name a few. Meeting Ferry Porsche and Chuck Williams through my work, are two very memorable and impactful experiences and I count myself both lucky and blessed for this great opportunity.

Becoming a co-owner of Wisteria feels natural. It has proverbially taken me a lifetime to find my home and true calling, perhaps I have been looking in the wrong place and with blurry vision. It has been a journey, and I am here now, home metaphorically at Wisteria – a brand, which is a perfect fit for my upbringing, my values, passions, travels and for my life’s journey thus far.

Shelley Nandkeolyar
Co-CEO

Atlanta, Georgia

Along the way I got married, had kids, and furnished many homes as we moved around the US – living in San Francisco, Manhattan, Atlanta, Chicago, and Portland! We have friends and relatives spread across the world and enjoy the opportunity to travel and meet with them and share their cultures and local customs. Along the way and in my personal journey, I also got to work with several exciting global brands like Porsche, Levi’s, Williams-Sonoma, Martha Stewart, and The Home Depot to name a few. Meeting Ferry Porsche and Chuck Williams through my work, are two very memorable and impactful experiences and I count myself both lucky and blessed for this great opportunity.

Becoming a co-owner of Wisteria feels natural. It has proverbially taken me a lifetime to find my home and true calling, perhaps I have been looking in the wrong place and with blurry vision. It has been a journey, and I am here now, home metaphorically at Wisteria – a brand, which is a perfect fit for my upbringing, my values, passions, travels and for my life’s journey thus far.

Shelley Nandkeolyar
Co-CEO

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