Switching Gears

Eliana Koulas talks with You & I
As the Director of Luxus Retail, Eliana Koulas has made her mark as a dynamic entrepreneur and has many responsibilities under her hat. She is also a fashionista and a car fanatic. In our conversation, she told us all about her shift from the field of engineering to fashion, and all about her personal life.
What made you move to India after growing up in Australia?
Before I came to India I was in the aeronautical space. I had set up a huge global consolidation project, which was a fundamental step for my company as we diverted specialised key functions to other parts of the world. Throughout the course of my technical career, I had a parallel career in fashion where I dabbled in various projects. I’ve always had a natural inclination towards the business of fashion, and it’s something I believe I’m very strong at. After a decade of working with routers and backbone networks, I took a leap into the unknown and made a career switch since I felt there were huge gaps in the Indian market yet to be filled. It was the start of the luxury boom, and a very interesting time to be part of the growth change in the retail business. Many at the time deemed this a career disaster, but I always believed that no dream is ever too big. If you believe you can, then you can.
Tell us about your lifestyle brand, La Martina. How did it start?
La Martina is an iconic international luxury Polo brand comprising men’s and women’s apparel, accessories, footwear and so on. With the aim of bridging the occasional gaps in the luxury market and redefining the concept of luxury fashion in India, I set up Luxus Retail in 2012 and brought La Martina, the luxury Polo brand, to India in 2014.
What role do you play in the business?
I am the director, which basically means I wear multiple hats. I like to be hands-on in all areas of the business, so I handle all the marketing and communication, merchandise buying, strategy planning and forecasting, retail operations, product conceptualisation, and brand management. I also oversee all the logistics and backend management, lead project expansions and business development, people management aspects, life coaching and motivational training. I am deeply involved in the day-to-day business of taking strategic decisions at all levels.
Was fashion always the chosen line?
It was something that came very naturally to me. There was no question of whether I could do it, how I would achieve it, or whether I would fail in the process. These I did not know with any degree of certainty, but I backed my intuition that this was my calling, was something I was tuned into. I’ve always been a chameleon that way, fearless of change and never doubting the doors of possibility. My life mantra has always been that no matter if people doubt you, no matter what the obstacles, you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would. Take a leap into the unknown; you never know what could be waiting on the other side.
What are your other interests?
Working for animal rights and rescuing abandoned and abused animals, which is quite a huge problem in this country. I love animals and can’t tolerate to see any form of animal cruelty. My other passions are travelling the world, exploring new cultures and seeing life from different dimensions, life coaching and spiritual sciences. I’m a huge foodie and love to cook for family and friends.
Director of Luxus Retail, Eliana Koulas 
Tell us about your love of cars.
I’ve loved cars since I was a child. Quite frankly, through my experiences of driving the world’s best luxury cars, this passion has increased. The Bentley Continental GT tops my list.
I’ve driven on F1 tracks around the world for Bentley and Lamborghini’s special events, and I assure you, driving a car on an urban city road and an F1 track is like night and day. Being able to accelerate at high speeds of 230km/hr+ on a complex track takes you to a whole new level. The most memorable driving experience was the ‘Bentley Power on Ice’ event in the Arctic Circle of Lapland, Finland. It was nothing short of a winter playground held on a frozen lake. The ice tracks were carved into the snow each morning, giving you various levels of difficulty as you progressed through different driving stages. I was lucky enough to have learnt unique driving skills first-hand from former rally champions.
How do you unwind?
I do lots of mental balancing work like yoga, pilates, and spiritual reading in my spare time. It’s important to keep a balance between the demands of work and personal time in order to be able to maintain a healthy equilibrium. I’m very happy in my own space and try to make time for things I love and which are mentally empowering and enriching.
What are you most comfortable wearing?
I’m a girl who sees the beauty in basics, longevity and quality. I’m an effortless mood dresser who likes to wear shapes with relaxed cuts that are beautifully fitted – a crucial part of my dress sensibility.
What are your fashion essentials?  
Great lingerie that fits well, Chopard’s Happy diamond watch for everyday wear, a pair of skinny blue jeans, a leather jacket, a pair of nude pumps, studded flats, a white shirt, a bright cross-body bag, a classic trench coat, a pashmina and bold statement accessories.                                                                                                                                               --- as told to Niharika