by Sara Stone
Ritika Shamdasani shares the honor with her older sister, Niki. Both are co-founders of sania South Asian inspired lounge and formal wear brand.
“One of our goals for Sani has always been to make South Asian clothing part of mainstream fashion. We want our clothing to be on major platforms and widely recognized by everyone, not just South Asians,” says Ritika. “We want people to know that there is much more to South Asian clothing than a sari.”
Neither brother envisioned leading a fast-growing fashion brand celebrated by Mindy Kaling and other celebrities. In fact, Ritika first enrolled at NC State with the intention of majoring in computer science. She is now a senior in Wilson College’s Fashion and Textile Management program, concentrating on fashion development and product management.
Applying Think and Do to the world of fashion
It was a problem-solving mindset, not a dream of becoming a fashion designer, that led the Shamdasanis to found Sani. The sisters found it nearly impossible to find outfits for an upcoming Indian wedding in the United States.
The two spent the summer searching for a solution. They tested 15 pieces, did some research, and found that there was a huge demand for these products.
“Eventually we realized that many first and second generation South Asian Americans were settling for a subpar experience and designs,” says Ritika. “In fact, 82% of them waited to go abroad to buy their cultural clothing, but they would spend, on average, about $315 a year on this type of clothing.”
They took it as a sign and kept growing. In 2020, they became the first South Asian brand to sell clothing on Rent the Runway. Their products sold out in 48 hours.
Then the pandemic hit, and like the rest of the business world, they were forced to turn around, so they went to Tik Tok. There they found a community of more than 100,000 people.
“They really wanted to participate in the culture in a way that no fashion brand had ever allowed them because you really only wear Indian clothes to an Indian wedding, but there wasn’t a fashion brand that incorporated that South Asian influence into everyone’s clothes. the days. Ritika says.
Through this social media initiative, they not only formed a greater connection with their clients, but also expanded their brand into loungewear.
“This loungewear was inspired by a Sangeet, which was part of an Indian wedding, and had embroidered motifs,” says Ritika. “Every batch we’ve released has sold out.”
Using North Carolina state resources to expand
Another way that Ritika and Niki decided to adapt during the pandemic was to use “downtime” to develop new skills. They enrolled in the Andrews Launch Acceleratorpart of Poole College of Managementin 2020.
“Throughout that show, I really appreciated the focus on fundamentals,” Ritika says. “Focus on the core of what makes up your business before thinking too much about the future because the future changes all the time.”
Ritika has also been involved with the Campus Centenario’ Entrepreneurship Garage throughout his time as a student.
“One of the best parts of the department is that it brings together students from all disciplines: textiles, engineering, agriculture, and more,” Ritika says. “There are always so many networking and mentoring opportunities that can help you, whether you want to talk about running an idea or find a collaborator or figure out how to improve your business.”
While Ritika may have chosen to transfer to Wilson College of Textiles for the curriculum, she says the community and education she experienced through college outside of the classroom has proven just as valuable.
“While Sani has grown, The Wilson College of Textiles has been nothing but supportive. That includes the world-class faculty who have become close mentors to my peers who are genuinely willing to help with any part of the brand, from packing orders to offering input on what color a new Sani product should be,” he says. Ritika. . “Being in school and running this brand is definitely not easy, but I think about how difficult it would be to run a business without a caring support system like this. I am constantly in awe of the people that make up this university and they push me to always try to do better.”
She also found lifelong friends through her involvement with Delta Gamma sorority and Fraternity and Sorority Life at NC State.
“Being a part of this sisterhood has already taught me some amazing lessons and I am so proud to be part of such an amazing group of women leaders,” says Ritika. “Running a sorority is like running a business, and our chapter does an incredible job of appreciating everyone’s individual contributions. They value each member’s feedback and know that understanding each person’s strengths makes the chapter stronger.”
the park fellow he says it’s the diversity of his experience at NC State that has had the biggest impact on his career.
“My experiences and the people of NC State in and out of the classroom continue to push me to be better and have contributed not only to Sani but to the person I am today.”