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Anita Dongre | India | Keep Reinventing!

My earliest memories are of strolling through the local markets of Jaipur while holidaying at my grandparents’ house in the summer. I’d design my own lac bangles and mirrored mojris. I think the shopkeepers in Jaipur realised I would be a fashion designer well before I did! I come from a traditional Sindhi family where women didn’t work. My family only agreed to my choice of college because they figured learning to cut and sew would make me that much better as a wife and daughter-in-law. I was considered quite a rebel for following my gut and working after college. My sister and I set up set up two sewing machines in the balcony of our Bandra home and started this business. This was the in the 90s where women in India weren’t taken very seriously in the professional space. There have been many struggles but I have always had a clear vision of what I want to achieve and then set about making it happen. It takes hard work, determination and faith in your instincts. After two decades and five brands, there is so much more to do and prove.

What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?

It was a life lesson which I am very happy to share. When I started making the clothes from home, I used to design affordable western wear and supply it to local Mumbai boutiques. Things were going well and I had enough support from the retailers. One of my regular buyers once refused a big order, and that’s when I decided I will sell it under my own label AND. The success of AND reminds me to not only be thankful to the people who support you but also to the ones who don’t.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

I wouldn’t call it a very big hurdle but it was something I had to overcome. I had a resistance from my parents, being the only woman in the family to work. Convincing them to allow me to run my own business was an achievement in itself. Today, my siblings work with me and continue to be my pillars of strength.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?

How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?

(same as above) - I wouldn’t do anything differently if I had the chance. I am where I am today because of the good or bad decisions I made through my career.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

My vision drives me. And it keeps reinventing and evolving with time. When I started, my muse was the modern Indian woman, and she holds that place in my creative process even today. My creations evolve to suit her sensibilities.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

If you have faith in something, it is worth every struggle.

What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?

Work hard, make bold decisions, trust your gut and don’t let anyone dim your sparkle.


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