In this way, the sisters have managed to forge a brand that upends conventional notions (and conventional dichotomies) of “global” vs. “local.” They’re a staff of two who are simultaneously dedicated to employing and empowering workers in their community while also cultivating an international community of customers.
And, thanks to Indian Matchmaking, not only have they expanded their audience, they’ve also had the chance to connect with customers around the world directly. After some early technical difficulties around payment and shipping, customers began reaching out to Ankita and Gayatri over email or WhatsApp. “I’ve loved building these humanistic bonds that did not exist for both of us one month ago,” Ankita says. “I’ve never met any of [these customers] ever physically but the connection I feel is so, so legit strong. I can’t define it.” Ankita laughs recalling customers’ reactions when they discover they’re talking directly to her. “When they realize it’s me on the phone, I’m not kidding, they shut up for two minutes! I’m like, ‘Hello? Are you there on the phone?’ And they’re like, ‘Is that really you?’”
They say they’ve been particularly inspired by two recent conversations they’ve had—one with a woman named Andrea who lives in Florida and told them that in the midst of battling COVID-19, her spirits had been lifted watching Ankita on the show; the other was with a singer-songwriter based in Lagos, Nigeria named Hauwa. That latter exchange made such an impression on Ankita and Gayatri that they’ve decided to name their upcoming collection, out later this month or beginning of September, after her. “‘Hauwa’ in Arabic means ‘first woman’ or ‘Eve,’” Ankita says. But “in Hindi, ‘Hauwa’ means ‘a ruckus’ or drama. And my friends and family call me a ‘hauwa’—they think I can create a hauwa any[where].” She continues, “I told [Hauwa] that as a token of gratitude, we’re going to name our new collection ‘Hauwa’ for all the women who have supported us. And we’re going to try and name all of the products in this new collection after the names of the women [around the globe] who have purchased from us.”
As the sisters plan ahead to a post-COVID-19, post-Netflix future, they’re hoping to expand into plus sizes to make the line even more inclusive, launch a super affordable collection of basics, and use their site as a platform for other denim designers around the world to reach new customers. “There could be a brand that does denim shoes, there could be a brand that does denim accessories, denim bags, even denim saris. We want to be able to create a community not just so we are able to sell more on the website but because they will get a market to India, we will get a market to their country and they will get a market to another country because of another brand being onboard,” Ankita says.
The two practice a form of Buddhism called Nichiren Buddhism, which, among other tenets, “talks about a world with no borders,” Ankita explains. “And our mission now that we have this business is how can we create… branches all over.”
“Denim is so versatile, it has no boundaries. It could [be worn] by a three-year-old or a 70-year-old,” Gayatri says. As Ankita puts it, “There is no border for [THERE!]. You are all welcome to come and be a part of our family.”