Veteran Editor Kristen Shirley Launches Digital Platform — La Patiala

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Seasoned editor Kristen Shirley is going digital to help demystify luxury goods.

Shirley — who brings over 15 years of experience conducting interviews with designers, chefs, restaurateurs, winemakers and hoteliers, as well as fashion, watch, jewelry and travel executives — has launched La Patiala, an online encyclopedia covering the luxury good space, bringing her knowledge to customers directly.

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“I saw a major void in the market,” Shirley, explained, adding that the luxury space can be an opaque industry that intimidates a lot of people.

Kristen Shirley - Credit: Courtesy
Kristen Shirley - Credit: Courtesy

Courtesy

“I was really surprised at how difficult it was to learn about watches, jewelry, wine and spirits,” she said. “I couldn’t find one trusted source with all of the information in one place. It was either written for experts or too entry-level. I really didn’t think it needed to be that hard. Once I realized that I’d accumulated all of this knowledge, I knew I had to share it, if only to stop my friends from constantly texting me asking about recommendations.”

The founder zeros in on the importance of craft and history, explaining that when consumers understand a brand’s history and its iconic designs, it makes them connect with the brand more, increasing loyalty. “If they understand what it really means to own a Patek Philippe watch, why a steel watch from Rolex is so hard to find, or what makes the Bulgari Serpenti such a special piece of jewelry, they’re more likely to covet and ultimately collect these pieces,” she said.

“When it comes to something like wine, caviar or travel, just having the knowledge about a subject makes consumers more likely to engage and experience them. I want everyone to be confident in their purchases and expand their horizons. Life should be fun, and what’s more fun than having Champagne and caviar on a weeknight?”

The site’s name was inspired by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, the ruler of Patiala in British India for the first 38 years of the 20th century, who was known for one of the finest collections of jewelry in the world. Shirley says his most famous piece was undisputedly the Patiala Necklace, which he commissioned from Cartier in 1928.

“It was extremely important to me that the site be easy to navigate and that the most important articles were front and center,” the founder said. The site is organized by category with an A-to-Z section that functions as a table of contents, so readers can quickly locate what they’re looking for and peruse new topics. “Since most media is organized in reverse-chronological order, the most important stories can easily get lost in the archives. I wanted to be sure that readers could quickly find what they were looking for,” she said

Another defining feature of La Patiala? Its long-format deep dives into all aspects of luxury, including easy-to-understand guides, historical overviews, curated shopping recommendations, contemporary reviews and intimate explorations of the world’s most prestigious brands.

“For me, something exceptional has exquisite craftsmanship and is rare,” Shirley explained when asked to define her golden standard. “I love learning about brands and artisans who are keeping ancient métiers d’art alive. I’m sure they’re losing money producing some of these pieces, but they’re preserving history in the process.”

The site goes live today.

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