Durga Sundaram was born and raised in the US, greatly influenced by her Indian heritage. Her mother wore a sari everyday regardless of the uncomprehending looks she sometimes received. The sari is one of the main influences of Durga's design aesthetic. The draping of the sari accentuates the beautiful elements of a woman's body and is versatile enough to flatter her no mater what shape or size. It was her father's business mindedness that encouraged her to attend Cornell University, where she concentrated on business classes and the design program. It is the pair of influences that led her to launch durga-kali.
The brand was named durga-kali after a Hindu goddess. Durga and Kali represent two different aspects of her. Durga is the loving, calm form of the goddess, while Kali is the powerful, menacing warrior who destroys evil. This duality underscores Durga's approach and designs.