Sisters Nikita (Niki) and Ritika Shamdasani had been shopping for an Indian wedding two years ago when they realized that it was extremely difficult to find something to wear that they both liked. Between the two sisters they had traveled to New Jersey, Atlanta, Charlotte and more to find an outfit without hitting the sweet spot.
Niki talked to many of her friends and her mom about it and discovered they had had a similar experience—they couldn’t find Indian clothing that suited their specific fashion taste.
“No one was satisfied with the experience or what they were getting out of it,” Niki said, “so we set out to create the products we wished we were able to find.”
At the time, Niki—a 2015 grad of UNC-Chapel Hill where she was a Morehead-Cain Scholar—was working in New York City running the New York office of Matter, a startup accelerator. But she moved back to North Carolina to launch the fashion startup Sani with her sister, with the purpose of creating a fashion line that was a blend of Indian culture and tradition but with a Western twist.
“We don’t think an Indian closet and a Western one need to be so separate,” said Niki, “You should be able to take our outfits to an Indian wedding and to a Western gala.”
All In The Family
Sani is very much a family affair. In addition to the sisters—Ritika is still a high school student in Fayetteville—Sani is also helped by the inspiration of their mother, who has a design background and helps the sisters with designs and doing business in India. Their father also helps counsel the sisters on the apparel business. The family still lives in Fayetteville though Niki often works out of HQ Raleigh.
Niki said in the future she and Co-Founder Ritika are interested using apps and algorithms that are both able to predict trends and apply them uniquely to each customer. For instance, Niki said Sani is working on finding an effective algorithm that takes a shopper’s measurements and finds clothes that suit the shopper’s body type and style preference.
Sani currently has received two grants, one from NC IDEA for $10,000 and another from Go Skills for $2,000. The startup has bootstrapped all other funding and expects to continue to do so for the near future. With a significant Indian-American population in the Triangle, the Shamdasanis are confident they are in the right place.
“The purpose of Sani is so that young Indian women in the area are able to feel that excitement about shopping,” Niki said, “and feel that it is convenient and easy for them.”