One of our newest companies to join the Styleshack "Shop Local" Marketplace is, eco chic Detroit based fine artisan brand called, Tribalfare.  It has been a pleasure getting to know the owner and founder of Tribalfare, Ojas Akolkar. She is a creative, smart and savvy business woman with a warm smile that can fill an entire room with good energy! I have enjoyed getting to know her and learning about her entrepreneurial journey.  Hope you are inspired by her Leading Lady feature. 

{SS}: What is your current profession?  

{OA}: I am the Founder/Owner of Tribalfare. We source and sell fine artisan wares from different regions of India. Our mission is to provide sustenance to brilliantly skilled artisans through ethical sourcing of their creations. Through their crafts we share their stories with our customers here in Detroit and throughout the US.

We also host events featuring exquisite foods and dances to further showcase the regional diversity of India. By offering a tiny glimpse into a rich heritage and culture, we provide our community with the chance to immerse, to learn and to devour!

{SS}: Tell us about your typical day.

{OA}: It starts with coffee and a long drive to Detroit. En route, I have a chance to collect my thoughts and think about what to expect for the day while I listen to public radio. Once I get to Techtown seeing receptionist Andrea, never fails to brighten my day before I make my way up to the Tribalfare Studio on the third floor.

Upon entering Tribalfare, I water the plants, admire the beautiful view outside and turn on our soft, bubbling water fountain. I then light a sandalwood incense and start some Santoor music to create a calm, relaxed and productive work atmosphere. The colors and textures around me really provide the bright and positive energy I need to start for the day This is an important 30 minutes I take for myself to enjoy the space I have managed to create. With the environment Tribalfare provides, even on my "off" days – I really miss my ‘loftlike’ retreat! 

Everyday in Tribalfare is a different experience! From responding to emails and planning events to researching pop-up opportunities and interacting with the customers who walk in during our hours of operation. 


{SS}: What do you love about your job?

{OA}: My travels to India to meet with the artisans and taking the time to understand their creative process, their life, their families. Also, curating the products to fit my customers' styles and considering what each of them would like.

Over the years, I have learned to surprise myself and keep my brand fresh by choosing a few items that are completely outside of my personal fashion realm. (i.e. A fluorescent pink, wool shawl!) Though Tribalfare is my passion, one of the biggest lessons that I have learned is to think outside of the box. We all share a uniqueness that I want Tribalfare to showcase by being inclusive and finding absolutely unique, pieces sometimes suited for one, specific person. In the end, I have been pleasantly surprised at how fast those products sell out too. 

{SS}: Any advice to those starting out in your profession?

{OA}: Two things:

1. Stay true to ‘YOUR’ definition of    success

2. Strive to establish genuine goodwill and trust with your potential customers, the sales will follow.

{SS}: What would you tell your 23 year old self?

{OA}: ‘’Trust me, you can do this by yourself and yes, get that divorce ….right now!’’

{SS}: Where do you, personally, get your daily news fix?  


{SS}: What do you do to make you feel beautiful, confident and ready to take on anything?

{OA}: Spending time with my loving husband and two amazing boys. I keep tabs on my parents, my sister who has cerebral palsy but is the most selfless person I’ve known and my loving in laws who are all in India. Not being around them makes me uneasy at times especially when I feel they need me but knowing they are healthy and happy and that I have their blessings makes me feel like a wonder woman. 😉 I’ve been blessed, so I do my best to focus only on the brighter moments of life and recognize that even the darker moments were there for a reason.

{SS}: What is your “Style Archetype?”

{SS}: Who is your Style Icon?

{OA}: The ever stylish, native Detroiter Marsha Battle Philpot. Marsha was one of my very first customers when I started vending at the Eastern Market and she is now a tribalfare ambassador of sorts. Her sense of impeccable style comes with dignified elegance and real beauty. Her grace, her demeanor, her poise. I am a fan of how she carries herself. Her personal commitment to support all the small businesses in Detroit and sharing her legacy through her writing is inspiring.  I believe that true style is effortless. It is an attitude.

{SS}: Where do you find style + fashion inspiration?

{OA}: I am a classics kind of girl. I am inspired by how people across generations and cultures dress and love merging handcrafted, global artisan treasures with something modern to create an eclectic, timeless look.

{SS}: What is your power song? 

{OA}: Jai Ho (Let there be Victory) by AR Rahman from the movie Slumdog Millionaire. 

{SS}: What is your power outfit or accessory?

{OA}: White cotton Kurta (Tunic), blue jeans, my silver chandelier earrings and my silver peacock ring.

{SS}: Who inspires you and why?

{OA}: My mother Rohini. Her passion to cook different foods and her undying love and excitement to entertain our family, friends and pretty much anyone who visits our home in Mumbai. Her confidence, resilience and selfless devotion in caring for my sister leaves me speechless.

{SS}: What are YOUR “words to live by” OR favorite saying/quote?

{SS}: Please share with us any of your favorite LOCAL stops in Detroit (from food, coffee, shopping etc) Also, if you have a favorite destination you've traveled to – please share some of your local love tips from specific destination. 

{OA}: Detroit:  So many’s a few but I could keep going on and on…

               Coffee: Anthology (Corktown)

Tea: SocraTea (Midtown), Eli Tea (Birmingham)

Brunch: Brooklyn Street Local (Corktown), Rose’s Fine Foods (E.Jefferson)

Lunch: Seva (Midtown)

Dinner: Katoi (Corktown)

Dessert: Warda Patisserie at Farmers Hand (Corktown), Sister Pie (W.Village)

Products + Shopping:

Natural Red Essentials

Motor City Soap 

Mama Coo’s Boutique (Corktown)

Favorite Destination: Rajasthan, India – ITC Rajputana Hotel in Jaipur. Go there!

Favorite items currently on Styleshack: 

Upcycled Lucky Catch Clutch