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How Carolina helped prepare one alumna to launch her own fashion brand

After struggling to find clothes for a traditional wedding in India, Carolina alumna Niki Shamdasani '15 and her sister launched their own South Asian-inspired fashion brand, Sani. The Tar Heels says Carolina helped her hone the crucial problem-solving abilities she now uses as a business owner.

Niki Shamdasani

Niki Shamdasani ' 15是一个真正的问题解决者. 给她一个挑战,她会找到最好的解决办法. 她甚至可能把它变成一项国际业务.

这一切都始于2017年在纽约的一次购物之旅. 沙姆达萨尼和她的妹妹, Ritika, were trekking across the Big Apple in search of outfits to wear to a traditional wedding in India the following summer.

即使在这个国家最大的城市,他们也没有运气.

“We were video-calling our grandmother in India to get her help with shopping, 我们要花两个小时去看印度精品店,”Shamdasani说. “我们试着从e-Bay上订购,但没有一件合适的.”

姐妹俩为婚礼尽了最大的努力. Afterward, they decided to make their own outfits for future events. 一件接着一件,现在他们自豪地拥有 Sani这是一个受南亚启发的时尚品牌.

“It was never really about fashion for me – although I have a much greater appreciation for it now,”Shamdasani说. “It was really about solving this problem – why can’t South Asian Americans access this fashion from the United States?”

Shamdasani developed that knack for proactively tackling challenges as a political science and business administration undergraduate student at Carolina from 2011 to 2015.

当每个学期都要注册课程时, 她会问年长的朋友, 你在卡罗来纳最喜欢的课程是什么?然后注册他们推荐的课程. Taking classes in a wide range of subjects helped expand her perspectives and refine her critical thinking skills.

One English course taught by Jessica Wolfe stands out in her mind.

“我们在读古代英国文学, and I loved the way the professor walked us through the complex text,“召回Shamdasani, who was a Morehead-Cain学者. 她把它一点一点地分解了. 它帮助我学会了一种我从未有过的阅读方式.”

From analyzing complex text to being involved in student government, Shamdasani says Carolina gave her many opportunities to hone her problem-solving abilities.

在她第一年的时候, 她加入了学生会, 担任学生会主席的行政助理. The first significant project she joined revolved around the issue of tuition hikes. While she was the only first-year student in a group of seniors, she never felt intimidated.

“I was constantly soaking up information from them and learning so much,” she said. “当我看到他们有效地解决问题时, I would take note and apply those lessons to other projects later on.”

Maintaining a deep well of problem-solving tactics has been crucial for starting her own company — and especially for carrying it through a pandemic.

2020年初,萨尼启动了一项合作 Rent the Runway, becoming the first South Asian fashion brand on the global site.

“We were ready to go full time and make it huge,”Shamdasani说. “然后,两周后,大流行来了. We were a company focused on formal wear for special occasions — and then every occasion was canceled.”

Undeterred, Shamdasani expanded the business’s product line to include loungewear and more casual clothing.

她还承担了额外的兼职工作和萨尼以外的项目, 包括担任PRX的项目负责人, 作为一名副教授 北卡罗来纳大学赫斯曼新闻与媒体学院 作为发射大使 发射教堂山. 2020年秋天, 她在哈斯曼学校的新闻实验室任教, a class focused on thinking creatively about how to develop media products and services of the future.

As Sani grows, Shamdasani continues to develop her mentality and approach in how she does business. 从承包商到品牌合作伙伴,从有影响力的人到客户, 她与世界各地各种各样的人合作.

“We are constantly meeting new people and adjusting to many different styles of working,” she said. “When we’re working with our counterparts in India, it’s a really different culture. Even though I’m Indian, I didn’t grow up there, so we’ve had to adapt.”

直到现在,她和她的姐姐都是自筹资金创业. 现在,他们正在筹集资金,希望将其提升到一个新的水平.

沙姆达萨尼说:“我们已经万事俱备. “We want to show South Asian craftsmanship to the world and make it accessible.”

Looking back at her experiences as an undergraduate student at Carolina, it seems only fitting that Shamdasani would start an international business after majoring in political science, 辅修商业,参加创业课程.

“我不知道自己会创业,”她笑着说.

Now that she has started a business, Shamdasani feels grateful for her continued connection to Carolina. During her time at Carolina, she took a consulting skills course with Steve Jones. 虽然她当时很喜欢这门课, it wasn’t until a few years later that she realized just how relevant those lessons were.

“当你在上课的时候, you might not always know how the content can be applied in the real world,” she says. “When I started Sani, I went back to Steve Jones and asked him a bunch of questions. 很高兴知道你可以随时回去寻求帮助.”

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