Kimaya Salaskar works hard to be unique.
Her store on Maplewood Avenue, Kimaya Kama, or “magic desire,” combines art and clothing. Unlike many clothing stores, the emphasis is on the character of the clothing, not the amount sold. “I wear everything I stock. This store is all my favorite things put together,” says Salaskar.
Salaskar travels to India twice each year to meet with suppliers and choose the materials and the design. “The clothing I sell is sold only to Kimaya Kama. They are not even sold in India,” she says. “They are created in small batches just for us,” she adds proudly. “So you don’t need to worry that everyone in town will be wearing your favorite outfit. And…you don’t see the same things in the store all the time.”
Kimaya Kama sells clothing that ranges from casual leggings and sweaters to dressy silk tunics and jackets. “Whatever you are dressing for, we can help,” says Salaskar. And because some of the items are less familiar than European styles, the staff at Kimaya Kama is happy to help you put an outfit together.
“Our best-selling item is a cotton tunic,” says Salaskar. “They look great mixed in with more Western outfits, too. The embroidery looks great under a jacket, and a white tunic with jeans or leggings is comfortable and stylish,” she says.
“The community [in South Orange and Maplewood] has been so welcoming and wonderful,” says Salaskar. “ln 2013 I was being treated for breast cancer. I would come to the store after chemotherapy treatments, because the store and the community made me happy. When you are having a bad day, little things like the smile of a happy customer can make you feel better,” she says.
Salaskar gives back to the community: for every scarf the store sells, she donates one to St. Barnabas Medical Center for patients undergoing cancer treatment. “People call to thank us all the time, but it’s not necessary,” she adds.
Kimaya Kama’s other merchandise includes sterling silver jewelry and devotional statues. They even have a small men’s collection with cufflinks and silk pocket squares.
“Many customers come here to get a Ganesha [Hindu god of beginnings, and remover of obstacles] charm, coin or statue. It’s nice to give someone who is starting something new, like a job, a new home or having a baby,” she says.
Owning a store with small batch artisan products can be challenging, but Salaskar enjoys it. “It’s a labor of love,” she says.
Kimaya Kama has a wealth of wonderful gift items for the holidays. Be sure to stop by, and check out their holiday gift guide on Facebook.
Kimaya Kama, 168 Maplewood Ave., Maplewood, NJ, 973.762.2385. Regular store hours: Tuesday & Wednesday 10am to 6pm, Thursday, Friday & Saturday 10am to 7pm, Sunday 11am to 5pm, Monday Closed.