When it comes to self-education about all things luxury, there seems to be a wealth of knowledge available online. If you’re a watch lover, you will find dozens of places to get information. Same with whiskey, wine, food and even fashion. However, there are not too many places where you can go online and find all of the luxury categories grouped together like an encyclopedia of splendor. Until Now. Journalist and luxury expert Kristen Shirley (also a Forbes contributor) has launched the incredibly comprehensive digital platform La Patiala.
A quick visit to the site yields an immersive experience into luxury travel (something Shirley has become an expert at with her nearly 1 million miles of traversing the globe), wines, spirits, style, jewelry, watches and more. The site is organized by categories with an additional A-to-Z table of content that leads to long-form journalistic articles that range from informative guides to educational and historic information on the different product categories.
While Shirley admits that others might have more extensive and in-depth knowledge about certain categories (like watches or cigars) than she has, none has such a well-rounded and well-versed knowledge of so many categories. “Certainly more people know more about watches or wine than I do, but not about both, and about other topics, too, and I can bring it all together with my vision.”
Shirley says she began work on the site in 2020, planning the concept and doing the behind-the-scenes site development planning first and foremost. After that she moved on to curating the content and chocking the site with hundreds of articles predominantly written by her that educate and entice. She provides readers with insight into what makes certain products exceptional, or proffers content as to why some destinations are sublime versus ordinary.
“It was important that the look and feel be different from everything else out there. I think the media landscape is really crowded and I wanted to be different and to have a unique point of view,” says Shirley, adding that she also spent a good amount of time on the back-end to ensure the site was incredibly user-friendly.
Her plan is not to offer news on a daily basis (“That spaces is already too crowded.”) that buries the important information, so the site will not necessarily offer chronologically ordered content. It will be more informative and immersive with the hope that those who visit for a single category quickly become intrigued and start studying additional categories.
“There is a huge educational component to the site. It really is the go-to luxury resource for everything from the basics of lab-grown versus natural diamond to beautifully curated jewelry trends,” says Shirley, adding that it is her goal to offer supplemental encyclopedias to augment the main content. Such volumes could revolve around categories like style (coming later this year), truffles and more.
Shirley, who also writes for Bloomberg Business Week, the Robb Report and others, is the consummate education seeker herself, so she is in the perfect position to transfer this knowledge to readers. Inf fact, to further her knowledge of wine, she pursued a Level 3 Award in Wine from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. She has also studied gemology and holds the Applied Jewelry Certificate from the Gemological Institute of America.
According to Shirley, she was inspired by the Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, ruler of Patiala in British India for about the first four decades of the 20th century. He amassed one of the finest collections of jewelry in the world, including the Patiala Necklace that he commissioned from Cartier in 1928. La Patiala, as Shirley has named her luxury site, is short for La Collection Patiala –”a reflection of the Maharaja’s embodiment of the global pursuit of luxury.”