I sometimes think I was meant to shape serendipity because I enjoy chance encounters with new people. I seek situations and environments where I meet people who might enrich my business ideas or bring a new dimension to my creative life. The team at MSL spend time in virtual environments meeting people and encouraging them to contribute to the success of Semple Secrets, or buy into Behind the Seams. Those virtual environments complement the physical ones I inhabit. The success of chance encounters is in being prepared to listen with complete attention and explore the possibilities that stretch before you.

Often I am lucky because I can look forward to shaping chance encounters in environments abroad. During the last week I have been invited to speak and meet new people in Switzerland, where I have many friends, in ethnically and culturally diverse Kazakhstan, where I know no one and in the city and municipality of Stavanger, Norway, where again new and unexpected friendships will emerge.

Chance encounters are not limited to times when I travel. In London I think I could meet someone from every corner of the world right outside my offices in Covent Garden. Marni in my team introduced me to the UKs top ethnic fashion entrepreneur Mani Kohli owner of Khubsoorat, meaning ‘beautiful’ in Hindi. Mani opened her first boutique in 1985 having worked long and hard to establish a brand of beauty, driving all over the UK to deliver designs to her clients.

In the USA Mani has a client-base who want designs that move beyond the traditional. Khubsoorat draws on a rich heritage of Indian design and intricate Indian craftsmanship, delivering contemporary inspiration in one-off designs. Sitting in her studio admiring cascades of colours, fabrics, textures I could see something of the nature of her success with celebrities and brides alike. We talked a lot about heritage, about the Indian craftsmanship that Mani draws inspiration from and about my own heritage, which includes something of the original inhabitants of Guyana. Mani commented on my dark brown eyes, which have in certain lights a ring of indigo blue.

Mani designs for many wedding groups, grooms as well as brides, illustrating through design, fabric, pattern cut and drape the personal stories of a bride, providing life-long memories that reflect family cultural values in a contemporary way. We talked about a collaboration, forging a new and exclusive partnership through Behind the Seams. Mani immediately understood the value of Behind the Seams and in so doing reminded me that I can shape serendipity, that the integration of passion for elegant design and business can flower in the hands of unexpected encounters with new people.

Maggie Semple

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