The most successful founders are those who turn their passion into purpose. That’s certainly the case for Shobitam co-founders and sisters Aparna and Ambika.
Launched in 2019, Shobitam is a fashion brand that brings together ethnic fashion from India and modern design sensibilities. However, according to Aparna, the beginnings of Shobitam can actually be traced all the way back to their childhood in India, “Since childhood, we always had this passion for creating our own clothes and adding artistic elements to them.” As she and her sister grew older and migrated to the US with their family, clothing became not just an artistic outlet but a way for them to remain connected to their Indian heritage.
It would not be until years later that a casual family conversation would be the catalyst for the launch of Shobitam. In the span of three years, their initial product offering of 50 items has exponentially expanded to thousands of products and tens of thousands of orders from all over the world.
Being a founder in any industry is challenging enough. Add to that being BIPOC, female founders, in the intersection of the fashion and tech industries, launching a startup right before a global pandemic that no one could have anticipated and prepared for. The challenges seem almost insurmountable. However, that didn’t deter Aparna and Ambika.
What sets Shobitam apart and sets it up for success? It is a combination of its one of a kind product selection, as well as how the brand operates and collaborates with all its stakeholders. As Aparna explains, “We are not reselling. What we are doing is really working with people at the grassroots level. All our products are made by weavers and artisans who we’re working with directly.”
Shobitam does more than just collaborate with artisans. The brand provides artisans all over India with a source of livelihood that not only keeps them away from the poverty line but also provides them with a healthy working environment. Aparna emphasizes, “We say our weavers are our backbone because without them, we won’t have these beautiful products.”
Aside from elevating artisans and weavers, Aparna is also focused on uplifting Shobitam’s customers. The brand has a mission to make people not only look good but also do good and feel good and ultimately, making a difference in people’s lives. Aparna breaks it down by explaining, “The look good part is when customers look good wearing our products. Do good is giving back to our community of weavers and artisans. When everybody’s happy, it’s a win-win situation and we all feel good.”
There’s a lot that other founders and entrepreneurs could aspire to and be inspired by looking at the success of Shobitam. However, for Aparna, the most important piece of advice she can impart is to never let your age discourage you.
Aparna founded Shobitam after working for over 8 years at Microsoft, and then taking a break to be a phenomenal mom for her two boys while supporting her husband’s globe trotting career. It’s precisely her wisdom and experience that continues to help Shobitam succeed where they have received over 5000+ 5 Star Customer Reviews. After all, customer obsession is at the core of Shobitam while leveraging technology and a key differentiator for the brand. Shobitam is now well on its way to disrupt the ethnic fashion space and make it accessible to customers from all corners of the world. As Aparna puts it, “We hear about startups being done by, you know, very young people, people just out of college. It’s very different in our case. The key essence is that it’s never too late to follow your passion.” She also adds on, “Investing in the right people makes all the difference.”
This is something that Aparna is speaking of based on experience with Shobitam securing over 1.5 million dollars from marquee investors in seed round last year. It seems that Shobitam’s investors took Aparna’s own advice by investing in her and her sister – Investing in the right people who will continue to weave purpose and passion in Shobitam to make a positive difference through fashion.