“The clothes you wear define your aura and personality,” says Sahiba Arora. Sahiba is a fashion designer from Ahmedabad and her expertise ranges in designing western clothes and has clients from all over India. Sahiba believes in designing clothes not solely for the market but also to indulge in her creative side and make something that leaves her smiling.
In her interview with Storiyaan, Sahiba talks about the hurdles she faced while starting her venture, gives us an insight into the world of fashion; goes on to talk about her venture that she built with love and care. Have a look to know more about fashion from the lens of Sahiba Arora.
Questions and answers
What was the greatest rookie mistake that you made when you were starting out and how did it affect you?
Like most youngsters, who start out, I was filled with enthusiasm and wanted to try and do everything. I would take up every single order and project, even if they were not relevant to my designs and therefore couldn’t really create a niche for myself. I wanted to create everything from traditional to contemporary to western due to which I didn’t focus on my essence and got lost in the crowd.
When you started your venture in the world of fashion, what were the challenges that you had to overcome, and how did you gather the capital for this new arena?
One of the major challenges I faced was to create a different name for my brand in an already saturated market. There was already a plethora of designers in the market and I didn’t know how to carve a niche for myself or how to differentiate myself from them. The capital wasn’t an issue as my parents were pretty supportive with my start-up and I was already working as a freelance stylist for shoots so I did have a tiny share of my own savings. I was also not big on spending so whatever little I would earn I would pump it right back into my business.
How have you set your business apart from other people in the same field?
I finally found my passion and my forte in western ensembles. When I wanted to start creating bespoke designer western wear there was hardly anyone doing that in Ahmedabad.
There was a very tiny share of consumers that actually wanted designer western outfits as well but I did start off and now today I can happily say the risk was worth it and we are selling a majority of western outfits only. Having that self-confidence in our work and creating a new market for ourselves was the one thing that made our business a success and set us apart.
Did you ever have to deal with a situation when the customer was not satisfied with the finished product and how did you deal with such a situation?
Just like the majority of other businesses, customer satisfaction is the key. Especially in a consumer-driven business like ours, a happy customer is the biggest advertisement for your brand. Over the years we have realised that it is as difficult to retain old customers as is finding new ones and that should be the main focus of your business. We can very happily say that almost all our customers go home happy. But yes, we have also had few scenarios where the customers haven’t been happy with their pieces but we make it a point to learn from those experiences. Learning from these mistakes has also been a very important part of our growth.
Tell us about your source of inspiration while researching for a design and how do you choose your designs and fabrics to suit your client the best?
Inspiration for designs is everywhere. If you keep your eyes and heart open, you can derive inspiration from the bees to the birds to the huge monuments. It’s about picking tiny things which please your eyes and trying to incorporate them into your design process. Nowadays we even have apps for trend forecasting and various fashion weeks happening all over the world, wherein we can get global inspiration.
The fashion industry is an ever-evolving corpus. How do you ensure your relevance and that you are updated with every trend in the industry?
Being relevant is the most important thing ever. Especially in a business like ours where trends are changing every fortnight, a brand needs to keep evolving and staying relevant. Although since ours isn’t fast fashion in any way and we like our customers to indulge more so in statement pieces which are like an investment to their wardrobe we still have our own time to keep updating. But it’s important to understand that you can create the most gorgeous piece of art but its meaning for your business will only come through if it’s relevant. We keep doing relevancy checks by asking our customers and also by keeping an eye out for global trends.
What is your motive as a designer, that is, how do you want men and women to feel when they are decked in your creation?
My motive as a designer is to just make my client feel happy. I love to personally style my clients right from suggesting them the correct kind of outfits for their events and their body type. The key lies in merging their comforts and yet make them experiment a bit so they are comfortable too. As nothing beats a confident and happy person! I want all young women and men to feel like they are the best version of themselves.
There’s so much pressure for designers to come out with their greatest collection season after season. What advice would you give to young designers just starting out and hoping to make it in the industry?
There is pressure but when you love your job, you always create a piece and a collection with pure passion and it will turn out to be beautiful. It is important to also sometimes create just for the love of creating and not just always targeting commercial viability. That is where the key is to beat the pressure. I found my forte when I decided to create what I love without thinking or stressing about the commercial aspect. Stay true to your creative instincts. Sometimes the applaud might come in a tad bit later but keep going and try to find one key element which sets you apart.