Girl Next-Door: Luxemi Co-Founder Swathi Narra

Chicago is a town of truly talented entrepeneurs, and we've got our eye on one in particular. Swathi Narra is the Co-Founder of, a fashion website that's a hybrid between rental and shopping sites and sells gorgeous Indian clothing that you'll instantly fall for. A resident of Chicago, Swathi wasn't shy about sharing her city loves as well as her style go-to's. We're paying attention.

Tell us how you decided to start a business?
"I've always wanted to start my own business but never thought it would happen so early in my career. My goal was to practice as an attorney for a couple of years and then move on, but I got hooked on the idea of Luxemi... and that was it! My business partner Swapna Chandamuri (who's also one my best friends) and I wanted to do something together that we both felt passionate about and energized by. Luxemi, a cross between Rent The Runway and Net-A-Porter (but for Indian clothing and accessories), solves a genuine problem—a lack of access to gorgeous Indian clothing and accessories here in the States. It also helps to have an extremely supportive family who understood the concept, recognized its need, and encouraged me to create something for myself. "


What do you love about your work?

"I love that no two days are similar, the freedom to make my own schedule, the fact that I'm my own boss... oh and all the amazing clothing! The best thing though is that the success of my business is directly related to the amount of time, energy, and effort I put in to it, which really keeps me motivated and engaged."

How does Chicago inspire you?

"I've lived in a lot of different cities—Boston, NYC, LA—but I feel most at home in Chicago. The city really encourages you to lead a balanced life and allows you to easily create a community, which is hard to do in big cities. People here work hard and are on their grind, but still maintain a high quality of life. To me, that is extremely inspiring."

Describe your daily uniform or the pieces you wear to work in most?
"I'm going to be honest here. I love an elastic waistband and I'm constantly trying to create outfits around them that don't betray what they actually are—glorified sweatpants. I work from home, so I need to be comfortable! I also wear a lot of oversized scarves (my faves are from Chan Luu) and my new thing is caftans. I tell myself that it's quite glamorous and that my apartment is actually a pied-a-terre in Morocco.. It's working so far!"

What's your favorite local distraction from work?

"My friends! The beauty of having other friends who work from home allows me to make impromptu coffee dates in the middle of the day! If that can't happen, I love driving along Lakeshore Drive and seeing the skyline and the fantastic architecture. I always get a little giddy seeing it. It's just so beautiful and makes me feel really lucky to live here."


Last meal in Chicago: Where would it be and what?

"Okay, the last thing anybody would say about me is that I really enjoy tofu. I don't. BUT I can't explain my new obsession with the Asian egg noodle soup with tofu and Chinese eggplant at Urban Belly. It's SO good! I may or may not have had it four times in the past week and half. However, if my last meal were to fall on a Monday (damn you Urban Belly for being closed on Mondays!), it would be a bone-in filet at Mastro's. I loved it in L.A. and am equally in love with its Chicago counterpart."

If someone recognizes you on the street, what would you like them to say?

"I'll be happy with whatever they say as long as its not along the lines of 'Saw you on R29 and you came off like a dud.' Anything but that!"

More from Chicago

R29 Original Series