Talking about the generational disconnect, culture, and an entrepreneurship vision
By: Nithya Mullapudi
Feeling a disconnect from their culture due to not growing up in India, but as first-generation South Asian Americans, sisters Niki and Ritika Shamdasani created their company Sani when they realized others like them felt the same way. Sani is a clothing company with the objective of expanding the perceivability of South Asian craftsmanship and techniques.
Niki, who graduated from the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill worked in numerous directions in the business field: as a venture capitalist, consultant, Chief of Staff, etc. She was able to bring her experience to Sani to provide direction for their operations. Ritika on the hand, was only just 16 and in high school when she started Sani. She spent her summers with doing programs such as Girls who Code, Kode with Klossy, and Amazon which resulted in her passions for both fashion and technology. She goes to NC State University and is a Fashion Development and Product Management major.
In 2017, Niki and Ritika were able to start Sani. Since 82% of South Asian Americans go abroad for cultural clothing, they wanted to create a company that brought that fashion to the United States. Their mission is to be as sustainable as possible while maintaining the quality of their products, through the use of South Asian traditional clothing techniques. They strive to reduce inventory waste and their carbon footprint so they can be as ethical as possible.
One of their biggest struggles during the growth of Sani that they had to face was what they call ‘the comparison game’.
“When we first started trying to grow Sani, it felt as though we were surrounded by overnight, Instagram-worthy success stories.”– Niki and Ritika Shamdasani in an article talking to NC State University + Willow Arthur.
They felt as if they were doing something wrong because of the severe influence of social media, and also started straying from their own values. Finally understanding who they were, and what they wanted to achieve—South Asian fashion in mainstream media—they started to stop letting their competition’s success get in the way of their goals for Sani. Ultimately, this is what brought them the most success, as they were able to launch with Rent the Runway, a popular design service. This launch garnered the attention of a lot of people, one of whom was Mindy Kaling, who praised Sani for highlighting South Asian fashion. Success started to come after that one by one, before COVID severely impacted their India-based manufacturing. They are now taking it day by day, to strengthen their company in any area possible. The sisters understand that challenges like these are bound to happen, and it’s what you make of the experience that defines whether or not you succeed that challenge.
“It’s okay to not have everything figured out. It’s always changing, but that is what makes it fun.”– Niki and Ritika Shamdasani in an article talking to NC State University + Willow Arthur.
This they feel, is the biggest lesson that they have learned about entrepreneurship.
I think that their company is one that is very much needed in today’s society. I understood exactly what they felt when talking about the generational disconnect. I feel like even though I grew up with my grandparents in India until I was four, I still also sometimes feel out of place with my culture because it is not as portrayed as much in the United States.
I love that they have expanded their products to not only occasion-wear, but also lounge-wear, which gives people alternative options to be close to their culture but not constantly spend on clothes for those big Indian events.
I also love that they use South Asian techniques to craft their clothing, because that is also an essential piece on which Indian clothes are made originally; to have that available to us in the United States is something that I am beyond thankful for.
I also admire both the sisters for different reasons. I like how Niki went on a journey with different jobs before finding the one that she felt the best suited for. I think that those different environments that she worked for probably also helped in the creation and operations of Sani. Because I am in high school myself and around the age that Ritika was when she co-founded Sani, I found myself being able to relate to her a bit more. I think it’s highly admirable that she is not only a student but also runs a business on the side. I can only imagine how hard it must be to balance everything, but I am confident that she can do it.
The beautiful Lal Lehenga was one of my favorites from Sani’s Lehenga collection. The class red and gold are highlighted with a modern twist of an off-the-shoulder top, that gives this look all the more power. I love the detailing and sheer dupatta with gold detailing on the edges.
Wow! What a design! I absolutely fell in LOVE with this saree. The top is detailed to perfection without overdoing it. The white flowers on the light pink saree are so beautiful and bring out the best in the design. The blush color is gorgeous as well. I love that the entire look is very chic.
I absolutely adore this look and how gorgeous it looks. A beautiful dusty blue and cream color that go oh so well together, with the detailing on both the anarkali and dupatta. It is made with a silk crêpe fabric so it is slight sheer, but there is a satin lining underneath for protection. However, I do think this is a bit pricey.
Leopard Loungewear Set – Garden Party Green
A super cute design with a gorgeous looking sage green, I love this set! It looks silky soft and can be worn on a grocery run or even as bridesmaid pajamas! I do also believe that this is very pricey, but Sani’s detailing is also very convincing to buy!
Anyways, that’s all for this post today about the Sani sisters! I had an amazing time looking into who they are and what they do. I really am thrilled that they are bringing South Asian representation and fashion to the United States and helping spread South Asian culture. What design did you like the best that I showed? Are you going to or have you already bought clothing from Sani? Feel free to like and comment down below 🙂 !