After working for six years as a television journalist in Delhi, Sugandha Kedia got married and moved to Raipur, Chhattisgarh.
The previous Zoom and NDTV employees started posting about her makeup and fashion on Instagram. Lockdown has increased the engagement of people, it helps her in marketing efforts of her most recent passion project, Dusala Kashmir. Dusala Kashmir is a crafted brand, featuring shawls stoles and scarfs.
Started in January 2020, the six-month-old brand is already a favourite among Bollywood celebrities like Shilpa Shetty, Dia Mirza, and Karishma Kapoor, and Europe based award-winning fashion blogger Masoom Minawala Mehta.
“After working for a number of years, I thought of taking a sabbatical. it doesn’t happen as planned and so I went ahead and launched a multi-designer store, One in 2017 that featured several well-known brands like Sabyasachi, Rani SVA, Anju Modi, Saaksha & Kinni, Deme by Gabriella, Anavilla and Limerick,” she said.
In the fashion industry, Sugandha started her career as a correspondent in the entertainment beat at Zoom. Between 2008 and 2011, she went on to work at NDTV Good Times, IBN7, and Focus TV. Later on, she worked for Property TV Dubai as well as HomeShop18. Along the way, she evolved as a self-taught fashion designer.
Dusala Kashmir is her second venture which is her childhood dream. She grew up in Delhi and recalls how fascinated she was by the shawls and scarves that weavers would sell door to door at an extremely lower price.
“As a child, it bothered me that they put in so much hard work in exchange for a very little money, and wondered how they could take care of their children and family I wanted to do something in that direction,” she says.
Before one-and-half years of the launch of the brand, Sugandha started working on it. To start her brand, she had to make numerous trips to Kashmir and there she had a hard time convincing some women who turned out to be the main weavers to her surprise.
Eventually, the entrepreneur bought many of their handcrafted pieces and requesting them to design for her. Sugandha employed 50 weavers across Kashmir to meet queries of people from the US, the UK, and Australia to meet the diverse tastes and preferences of customers.
The price of the shawls handwoven and fabric, ranges from Rs 2,500 to Rs 10 lakh presently, also sold on its website. Particularly, the value of hand-woven Pashmina is around Rs 10,000, and therefore, the price of handwoven Kani which is formed through an extended process, spanning three years ranges between 98,000 to Rs. 2.5 lakh.
Kashmiri shawls have immense popularity, so much that a person travelling anywhere abroad certainly comes across a store selling these shawls.
“The products are sold basic in terms of design, something that was possibly in fashion 20 years ago With our artisans, we aim to showcase the real essence and beauty of the craft, how they have guaranteed to new design and techniques, modern colours, and blends,” she says
Before COVID-19 struck, she had almost closed a deal with coveted fashion week brands. Her work demands frequent travelling to the network to discuss designs with the weavers.
She says, “I’m sure everyone is suffering, and I should not be complaining.” To stay updated on work, Sugandha and her team of waivers have now paved the way to communicate via WhatsApp video calls where she shares new designs.
It is not always all work. She says she is blessed to be treated like family by the weavers. Videos of her cooking are sent to her and also apples on the trees are shown. The heritage fashion venture might be born from a childhood dream but the effects of it, have been huge.
Sugandha says she been able to travel help the words and become a part of their families. The credits of this growth and success she gives to her family’s unflinching support in love.