Every morning, as Payal Parekh Bugbee left her Mumbai home to spend time at her father’s silkscreen printing shop, she would recite the prayer to Manaki, a sacred Hindu horse said to remove all obstacles in life if called upon.
“It’s engraved in my mind to be so close to the horse,” she said. “Whenever I have big jobs or projects, I would always think of Manaki … Of course, there were challenges and stuff, but I would get through them because I always had this presence.”
The presence of Manaki has served Parekh Bugbee well throughout her life, even when she moved to New York, where she studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She eventually landed in Louisville, where she daily passed by the locally famous statue of Gen. John Breckinridge Castleman astride his horse, Carolina, with Manaki still in her heart and mind.
In 2013, she opened an online fashion boutique with her husband, photographer and Louisville native Geoff Oliver Bugbee. Called Parekh Bugbee, the shop offers luxurious scarves and shawls for women and men, along with pocket squares for men. Some of the exquisitely designed and hued textiles sport traditional Indian patterns, and others have contemporary abstract designs. The high-quality products are screen-printed by hand on silk, wool, cotton and blends at KNPrints, a Mumbai silkscreen company owned by Parekh Bugbee’s father, Bharat Parekh, who has been designing textile prints for 45 years.
Now, Parekh Bugbee is launching a four-week Kickstarter campaign for Silkhorse, a new line of 13 equestrian-themed scarves designed by Louisville artist Keith Auerbach. When the campaign, which begins Oct. 11, meets the targeted funding goal, full production on the Silkhorse line can begin.
“Everything is done with a lot of love,” Parekh Bugbee said. “It’s very close to my heart.”
When discussing the new project, Auerbach said Parekh Bugbee gave him three conditions for his designs: They must be wearable all year long; they must have international appeal; and each scarf design must have a never-before-seen representation of the horse.
“So, I thought, ‘I could do this,’ ” Auerbach said.
And he did. In the 13 different designs, the image of the horse may not be obvious at first glance.
“Most equine textiles have the image of the horse as a prominent feature,” he said. “For the Silkhorse series, I was able to achieve a unique design by making my images of the horse rather subtle, embedded within a complex design. First you see the beautiful colors of the overall design, and it is only on a closer look that the horses reveal themselves.
“I especially like that the horse is in the background because that is consistent with the story of Manaki … In a way, this design secretly empowers the woman wearing the scarf.”
Parekh Bugbee said money from the campaign will not only generate new business for KNPrints, but it also will sustain the lives of the artisans who work there.
“It’s touching many of the lives of the workers who make all the products by hand,” she said. “I feel proud, as well as responsible, for these workers to sustain their livelihood.”
Those who give to the Kickstarter campaign will receive a Silkhorse scarf at a “promotional discounted rate,” according to Geoff Bugbee. The Silkhorse scarves will be priced upwards of $185, with a limited-edition scarf offered at $385.
In the meantime, Parekh Bugbee is confident about the continued guidance of Manaki.
“I’m very positive that people are going to love the uniqueness of the print and the work,” she said. “This project is going to help so many lives.”
To view the entire Parekh Bugbee line and to support the Silkhorse scarf project during the October 11-November 11 Kickstarter campaign, please visit www.parekhbugbee.com and you will be directed to the official Kickstarter page.