Anita Dongre’s journey of making her brand started 32 years ago when the world was in a traditional setup with very few women entrepreneurs. 57-year old Anita hails from a Sindhi family where women were accustomed to stereotypical roles, adhering to the societal norms of being a “woman”.
Anita always had a different vision for her life. Although she grew up in that traditional setup where all women in the family were happy mothers and wives, Anita’s love for fashion made her break all kinds of stereotypes and be the first one in her family who took up a job after completing an internship.
This was the beginning of her entrepreneurial journey and she had no idea where it would take her. Today, she is one of the most famous designers in the country with more than 300 stores giving employment to more than 3000 people.
Fashion excited Anita from a very young age. Her inspiration behind her love for fashion has been her mother, Pushpa Sawlani. 15-year old Anita used to see her mother stitch beautiful clothes for her and her siblings which grew her love for fashion even more. She followed her passion and completed her graduation in Fashion Design from SNDT University, Mumbai.
Anita’s entrepreneurial journey was a backbreaker. Her decision to work and make a life of her own was criticized by her family members. The stereotypical view about women working kept getting in the way of her passion but she fought it all! She started with two sewing machines in her balcony. Initially, Anita was confronted with a handful of challenges. She had no permanent place to work so she kept on moving from one place to another. The next big problem was the financial crunch. Every single day for a few years was a challenge and broke her in many ways forcing her to give up on her dream. Anita did not give up at anything. When she started designing, she had made a collection of western wear catering to working women. This collection was rejected by many stores who found it odd and didn’t accept to keep it. This got Anita furious and she opened her first store in 1999 in Mumbai.
After this, there was no turning back. From a store in Mumbai in 1999, she expanded to a store in New York in 2017 and became a household name. The House of Anita Dongre has four labels under it- AND, Global Desi, Anita Dongre Bridal Couture, and Grassroot by Anita Dongre. AND and Global desi caters to the everyday wear fashion of the masses while Anita Dongre bridal couture gained immense popularity after the Gotta-Patti lehenga showcased on the ramp making it a trendsetter and a luxurious asset in one’s closet. Grassroot by Anita Dongre focuses on the handmade crafts beautifully created by the rural artisans giving them employment and exposure to showcase their talent. Each label has a unique identifier attached to it and each one speaks of a specific theme with one common goal, to produce cruelty-free fashion.
A star is born
After facing immense challenges for 32 years, Anita Dongre is now a household name. She has 300 stores all around and has designed for some very known and famous faces like Alia Bhatt, Kate Middleton, Hillary Clinton, Priyanka Chopra, and many more.
Her family has been her biggest support throughout pushing her to achieve new heights each day.
Anita’s father has always taught her to respect and value money and this lesson has been with her till date even when she takes important financial decisions today, she thinks of everything her father told her about.
Anita’s life as an entrepreneur has been challenging but her hard work and belief in what she stands for made her what she is today. Her love for fashion made her break all kinds of stereotypes of how and what a woman should do. From there to here, Anita has seen it all and wants to leave behind a fashion house that strives on the value she has set!