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Think of an Indian woman, and when you picture her in your mind, the first thing you think is a saree clad gorgeous girl. Even Bollywood loves its drapes and it’s a given that a woman looks her best in sarees. When we met Shalini through our app, we loved her collection of sarees. They weren’t the typical sarees you found in a Chandni Chowk or Bhuleshwar. These are the true sarees you saw your mom and grand mom wear. These signify elegance and timeless style. Once we had seen those we were sold! You gotta know what’s going on in the head of a young woman, crafting such elegance. So let’s talk to Shalini:

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1. Tell us 3 interesting things about you.

(i) I love travelling and exploring new places – prefer to know local people, culture, dishes, rituals rather than just being a tourist
(ii) I love to experiment and get restless with status quo in life – I am always trying out new things be it cooking a new dish, checking out the latest coffee corner in town or coming up with radical ideas on how to scale my venture
(iii) absolutely love plants – I have been collecting them ever since. We have a garden in my parent’s house and I am in the process of setting up my own right now
2. What is your inspiration behind starting a ethnic clothing business?

Being a Bengali and growing up outside Kolkata (rather far from it, in Delhi) I have always felt that there is a huge untapped potential in bringing the traditional eastern/Bengali elements to mainstream (be it food, clothing etc.). After spending close to 6 yrs in the industry and being convinced that it isn’t my calling, I decided to take the plunge – sarees are something that goes back hundreds of years and can be traced to our very roots. As today’s youth I can identify with the needs of the modern woman – my venture is all about bridging this gap, making the drape modern yet staying true to its origins

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3. Best moment of your career so far?

It would definitely be the first order I got for Ashavari within a day of our soft launch. It showed with the right product you can still appeal to the right audience even if you are an unknown entity in the marketplace.

4. What is a typical day like for you?

I get up at 7 am and sweat it out for 35-40 minutes in the gym. Then, I fill myself up with my daily dose of news (Economics Times is my absolute favourite) while sipping on my morning tea. I typically start my work day at 9:30 and with your own business there is never an end-time truly! We are in the launch phase of our website – so that keeps me busy quite a bit and rest of the time is spent conceptualizing and running campaigns, tracking order delivery, speaking with suppliers and lining up future orders, tracking the next upcoming exhibition etc. I typically call it a night around 12:00.
5. Tell us about one struggle in your life or career and how you coped with it?

It was when one startup I worked with did not manage to raise funding and was close to shutting shop. I had to go outside of my comfort zone and made my way to a new country (Malaysia and Singapore) for work by joining the biggest ecommerce retail company of South East Asia (I was managing their regional Seller analytics). That experience truly empowered me – showed that with the right attitude and if you keep pushing the boundaries, going out of your comfort zone can be very rewarding.

6. Name a celebrity/icon you look up to for fashion and why.

Has to be mom and mom- in-law who look super elegant and beautiful (like making heads turn!) in sarees (they are not celebrities but icons for sure.

8. What is your favorite ethnic outfit/accessory?

Saree without a second thought

9. Give 3 pieces of advice to our users.

Upload on ET, sell on ET and then buy from ET ! It is not enough for your product to be good – what is more important is for your target audience to perceive it to be of enough value which is where presentation and detailing about the product becomes extremely important.

10. What do you think are the ethnic outfit staples that an Indian girl MUST have in her wardrobe?

A silk saree with a black/golden long blouse. In jewellery, I would pick pearls – simple yet elegant

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11. Give a shout out to couple of your friends or family who have inspired you in your journey so far.

Has to be my mother and my husband – who believed in me and have backed me in my decisions always!
12. What is your favorite quote?

Freedom is not the absence of commitments, but the ability to choose – and commit myself to – what is best for me (The Zahir)
13. What thrills you most about EthnicThread?

Very frankly, using this app as a platform to sell and promote my business and get global visibility is what attracted me to this app. But, I would like to add that the community that we have built and the global following what I have is what has made me stay! And I look forward to creating opportunities for women to network, learn and connect within our community by organizing live meetups, workshops and events.

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