By Monica Luhar, India-West, April 30, 2013
Shopping for the latest Indian fashion trends can be time-consuming and expensive, especially when you don’t have an extra $800 to churn out from your savings account.
In 2011, twin sisters Siddhi and Riddhi Khara from Orange, Calif., set out to revolutionize the Indian fashion industry by launching Borrow it Bindaas, an online boutique that offers a wide array of affordably priced Indian apparel and accessories for rent or purchase.
With a deep rooted love for Bollywood, fashion and Indian culture, the sisters coincidently cooked up their company name, “Borrow it Bindaas,” while driving to a wedding in Kolkata.
The Kharas were insistent on including the word “borrow” to help people understand the main concept behind the company. But they also wanted to create an Indian twist to it; something that would be relatable to the larger community. As luck would have it, Siddhi came across a nearby café inscribed with the word “Bindaas,” and immediately fell in love with the term.
“Bindaas means hassle-free, worry-free. And we’ve been committed to that name in terms of the message behind that name,” Siddhi told India-West this week.
Prior to founding the company, the Khara sisters noticed that many of their close friends and family members would often borrow and swap Indian apparel for upcoming engagements, weddings and South Asian events. This, of course, resulted in a never-ending cycle of stale outfits being worn one too many times.
The two Indian American UC Irvine graduates realized that many people didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a brand new sari, just for one major occasion. They also realized that nobody would want to stow away an expensive outfit in the back of their closet, watching it collect dust.
“Rental of Indian clothes has never ever been done before, whether it’s in India or here. What’s unique about our company is we’re empowering women, not just South Asian women, but women all over the country, to have the experience that they normally wouldn’t be able to afford,” Siddhi explained to India-West.
The rental service is simple. Interested individuals can peruse through dozens of elaborately designed saris, salwars, men’s wear and accessories to find the perfect match for up to 80 percent off the retail price, they say.
The Web site offers an accurate sizing chart for women’s blouses, to accompany the sari. Borrow it Bindaas offers one blouse, an alternative “back-up” blouse, a petticoat, plus a specialized free Bindaas Kit which comes with safety pins, a tika, sari tutorial and various other items to ensure smooth sailing.
“We understand that you may think you’re a size 4, but you might be a size 2 and that’s why we send two blouses to ensure fit, and we custom cater every order,” said Siddhi.
After selecting the sizes, clients can skim through the Web site’s online calendar and reserve the days the item would be needed – a process that is as simple as booking a hotel. Clients can either borrow Indian apparel or even purchase the clothes and accessories. Borrow it Bindaas will ship the items in a pre-stamped envelope along with the Bindaas Kit.
After wearing the outfit and accessories, clients can put the items back into the envelope and drop it off at any UPS dropbox or affiliate, without the need to dryclean the attire.
After growing their successful business for the past two years, the sisters began receiving several requests from customers to incorporate bridal wear.
“We saw the need for other types of Indian clothes and had brides coming to us, saying, ‘I want to buy my wedding outfit, but I don’t really want to buy my Sangeet, garba clothes. I want to save that money for a down payment on my car,’” said Siddhi.
Borrow it Bindaas realized this need and quickly went on to incorporate not just saris, but Indian bridal wear and men’s wear among other items from some of the top designers in India. Currently, Borrow it Bindaas is collaborating with designer Surily Goel and has added exclusive new clothing pieces to their online collection.
Like many young entrepreneurs, the Khara sisters faced challenges when launching their first business at the age of just 24. The young Indian Americans, now 26, not only learned the IT side of things, but also learned how to negotiate with some of the top designer studios and warehouses in India.
Even though they may look similar, the twins are anything but similar. Each sibling brings an eclectic perspective on how to run a business, provide positive results for clients and negotiate with vendors. Siddhi acknowledged the fact that there will always be challenges when working with family, but that there will always be a hybrid, professional and personal relationship involved.
“I think what’s been actually nice working with Riddhi is that we both have this same amount of drive and passion. If I’m working late until 2 a.m., she will stay up late and work at 2 a.m. in the morning,” said Siddhi.
Instead of clocking out at 5 p.m., the business is more of a family partnership, explained Siddhi.
“Of course there are challenges, because we are twin sisters and because we are with each other all the time. But we see things from very different perspectives; we’re not always meeting eye to eye on things,” Siddhi told India-West.
“However, we’ve learned to sit, and have a conversation with each other and come to a conclusion on what the solution can be, and how we can handle it,” she added.
The Kharas are not just about maintaining an online presence – they are also meeting with their clients in person and attending various bridal expos to market their start-up and cater to not only the South Asian community, but other communities interested in borrowing or purchasing Indian attire for formal events. The goal is to empower clients throughout the country and in places like the Midwest, where a variety of Indian apparel shops may be hard to find.
“Another perk is that we ship all over the country. Must of our customers are from the Midwest, East Coast. We’re trying to serve people all year around, while making it super easy and fun,” said Siddhi.
Siddhi explained to India-West that rental models are very well known across the U.S., but that it is a fairly new concept for Indian fashion.
“We are targeting not only Indian people who don’t have time to rent, we’re targeting Indian people who would never think of doing it for Indian clothes,” said Siddhi.
On May 4, Borrow it Bindaas will be launching its first ever “Pop Up Shop and Fashion Show” in Santa Ana, as part of its celebratory 2-year anniversary. You can RSVP via Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/events/250461798432629/?fref=ts. To borrow or purchase Indian apparel, visitwww.borrowitbindaas.com.