Imiloa: Mauritius’ first concept store
After converting a 100-year old building into the first pop-up store in Mauritius in 2012, the phenomenal response convinced Priya Ramkissoon that her vision for Imiloa could be taken to the next level.
Now, two years after the first version of Imiloa, the store has returned with a permanent home at Trianon Shopping Park, selling a range of personally selected clothing and accessory items from across India and Asia. It’s the first time a shop in Mauritius has offered such a platform for artisanal talent. This unique retail concept also guarantees fashion lovers have the opportunity to purchase exclusive and one-of-a-kind goods that they won’t find anywhere else.
All items are a result of Priya’s work in sourcing artisans in India and Asia who are able to mesh their crafts with Imiloa’s designs, and everything you see for sale in store is a genuine one-off piece. Imiloa never re-stocks or re-makes the same product twice, so customers can always feel special and take pride in what they wear and buy.
The origins of Imiloa
Imiloa’s founder, Priya Ramkissoon, was born and raised in the UK to Indian and Mauritian parents and had long wanted to create a concept that would enable her to combine her mixed cultural background. Considering all three countries her home – the UK, India and Mauritius respectively – and having been exposed to the artisanal talent she gained from living and travelling in Asia, she was inspired by all these influences to build the innovative Imiloa.
“Their craftsmanship, for me, was so underexposed that I wanted to create a platform to showcase them,” says Priya. “It wasn’t just about putting these artisans in the spotlight, but having the opportunity to fuse our knowledge and create unique items together.”
The permanent concept store was a year in the making, from sourcing and negotiations to construction, formulating designs and conceptualising.
Imiloa means “to explore with a sense of wonder” and this neatly sums up what Priya is all about. As someone who has been without a permanent address for more than four years, and who spends around eight months of the year travelling, she certainly embodies the essence of her store’s name. “That is what I try to convey through my designs and concepts,” she says. “It’s travel – it’s what I see, experience, eat, drink, meet – absorbing everything really. I thrive on being on the road and that’s what catapults my ideas and interests. And that’s exactly what I wanted to capture in the store. I wanted the shop to have its own aura/ambience – to look travelled and to be somewhat ethereal and welcoming at the same time.”
It’s also about inspiring Mauritius, Priya is keen to stress. “I wanted to do something that not only enlightens locals, but also encourages them to be inventive and challenging within themselves,” she says. “Customers come into our shop all the time, saying ‘Oh now I’ve got an idea to do this’, or ‘I want to enrol in this or that workshop’. That’s what it’s all about for me. It’s about igniting that inner creativity. Everything is achievable – it’s just down to personal tenacity.”
Imiloa has heralded a new experience for shoppers in Mauritius, and combined with the richly chic décor and displays, it gives an extra edge not experienced on the island before. Visit Imiloa at its new location: Royal Road, Pointe Aux Cannoniers. #imiloaboutique