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Nabiha Khan is the Founder of Dress Me Desi, a South-Asian dress rental and wedding services platform.
While it’s easier for men to handsomely make it through formal occasion with the help of one tuxedo, for females that is not usually the case.
Buying ethnic south Asian dress after dress can prove to be an expensive investment and may appear wasteful to the Sustainably Conscious Community — or whose appreciation for the artistry that goes into making a spectacular ethnic dress makes them think twice at the thought of letting it rust in their wardrobe after a single wear
With her start-up Dress Me Desi, savvy young entrepreneur Nabiha Khan has applied the principles of the sharing economy to these issues, creating a service that allows fashion conscious women to utilize and monetize their overflowing wardrobes, and women in need of a new outfit to temporarily borrow something amazing at a fraction of its purchase price. Also, serve as a wedding vendor discovery platform that houses everything that one needs to plan, manage, and organize for their big day
Here is her story in summary:
City where you’re from: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Living in London.
Hobbies: Reading, meeting people and travelling
Favorite quote: It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing- Oriah Mountain Dreamer
What inspired you to start this business?
Nabiha Khan: When I was at the university in UK, a lot of festivals such as Eid and Diwali would be spent with friends and it was nice to wear traditional ethnic clothes for these events. Some would get clothes from back home, borrow or buy. However, Ethnic South Asians Party wear dresses are normally sold on a higher price in the UK. Due to its high price, such purchases are typically made on a very special occasion such as Wedding.
Last year, I attended three friend’s wedding in a year. Each wedding required a minimum of two to four outfits. With no trips to India on the horizon, things were beginning to look dicey. Also, we recognised an increase in South Asian fashion demand in UK. Nowadays, one third of the guest in a south Asian wedding are non-south Asians.
Opening a retail boutique that offered affordable yet glamorous ethnic outfits partially solved the problem but not completely. We found that clothes that sit in the back of our closet don’t seem to add much value to our life. instead they contribute to inordinate amounts of waste pollution. We wanted to provide a better deal environmentally and create something where you can dress your best while reducing carbon footprint, waste pollution and water consumption making it a win-win situation for those who want to live sustainably yet not compromise on style.
Additionally, one of my close friend had to go through multiple websites, text messages, meetings, and WhatsApp groups to finalize vendors for her wedding. The chaos and lack of organized wedding planning services and affordable ethnic south Asian dresses gave birth to Dressmedesi.
How is your product/service different and unique? What’s the vision?
Nabiha Khan: Our USP lies in our diverse range of high quality party wear apparel at affordable rental price. Currently, no one does the kind of outfits we do at the price that we provide them for in UK. Also, enables you to monetize your closet by simply sharing your style is new. Another section, the wedding vendor platform is simply not a database, where any vendor can register. Each vendor goes through a screening and only vendor that provides high quality service/product get accepted. We approve vendors just as we would look for our own wedding.
We want to change consumer behaviour and put the closet in the cloud, giving access to finest quality apparel and the latest fashion trends. Although I know it takes a lot of times to change customer behaviour, starting from a closet full of clothes that we don’t use to a world where we are being smarter about how we get dressed or find services
Did you experience failure along the way? What did you learn from it?
Nabiha Khan: We now live in a fast-paced world where everything is based on speed and a slow decision may be too late for us to get something in our possession. When I was offered graduate entrepreneur visa, I was so enthusiastic that I started getting the trademark in place. Soon after, I started receiving letters of trademark, some demanding 1000, 500 etc all of them looked legit, as it even had my company name and a proper letterhead. I made the payment as the deadline for payment was near, soon after I realised it was a fraud. That costed me 1000, I could have probably used that somewhere useful.
I learnt that it’s better to think before to make a quick implementation because there is no irreversible anymore. Also, I need to Avoid making a decision in isolation. For solo entrepreneur decision making process can be isolating at times. It’s important for solo founders to surround themselves with team members and fellow entrepreneurs so that they don’t become too closed off and lose their creative edge over time as they work alone.
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have.
The best advice I could ever give anyone is to forge genuine connections with people inside and outside your industry. I have not launched my business on my own. I have had a lot of support from great people who have supported me throughout. Starting a business, you are always going to find a road block, may it about developing a website, learning about marketing and so on. Always ask for help. It’s so simple and it’s true. The key to success is to help others succeed. Be truly interested in them and try to cast a wide net. Also, don’t lets other insecurities rule you. Never give up on your dreams, and believe in yourself. Stay humble but be a badass ready to take over the world.
What is the most unpopular opinion you have on entrepreneurship?
An idea of having a business of your own, is often glamorized, making it look so easy with no 9-5 job. In reality, it requires a lot of determination, time, and sacrifices. If one can’t give up on weekends, can’t fully dedicate their time to it, then I don’t think entrepreneurship is for them.
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
Innovation should be one of the top most priority for entrepreneur. During ideation and brainstorming phase, innovation is the first one to make an appearance. When planning the entire course of business development, innovation must be kept in mind, as absence of innovation leaves you with nothing to distinguish yourself from your competition. It doesn’t necessarily create a new idea, it can also mean, taking an older model, and updating it for a new environment, or combining two previously independent ideas together.
Teach us something that you really believe in.
Reading is the key to success. I at least spend half an hour every day on reading, every day I learn something new. It doesn’t necessarily need to be half an hour, even 10-15 mins of reading will give you so much insight into what’s happening around you. You don’t need to be the smartest to success, but always be willing to learn like a child, curious to explore and discover.