Nihar Sait and Sana Rezwan Sait are the husband wife duo behind the newly launched site Indelust.
I had been following their work for some time and had emailed them to discuss the possibility of meeting to talk about Indelust. Serendipitously and in true New York fashion, I ran into them the very same evening. Not only are they extremely talented, their warmth and autheticity immediately catch you off guard. (And at the risk of embarrassing them both, the most endearing thing about them is they still can’t keep their eyes off each other.)
Please tell us about the concept behind Indelust.
SRS: Indelust is a curated site of ethically sourced fashion, art and home wear from the Indian Subcontinent. You will find a combination of pieces that are either handcrafted or have positive social impact. Our aim is to showcase the new design aesthetic that is emerging from India, Pakistan and soon Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Why is sustainable fashion so important to both of you?
NS: Let’s start by defining what ‘sustainable fashion’ is not. The Rana Plaza incident, where more than 1,000 garment workers in Bangladesh were killed when their factory collapsed, is an extreme example of what happens when a fashion business pursues economic profit at all costs. Actually, that was the impetus for us to start Indelust. We wanted to create a business that took into account its impact on society and the environment, the so called ‘externalities’ that economic profit alone fails to capture. Don’t get me wrong – we come from an entrepreneurial and investment background; so we understand that a business can only be ‘sustainable’ if it is economically profitable, that is, it must be able to support itself. But we believe we have identified a market segment that values and desires beautiful objects, but also wants to know that their luxury purchases are encouraging brands to invest in local artisans and the communities that gave birth to their art. We want Indelust to be the portal that connects the consumer to these designers and artisans. Fashion has the power to create positive change and we want Indelust to be one of those forces.
Your go-to designers around the world – India and beyond.
SRS: From India, I would have to say Sanchita, Dhrrv and Bodice. From elsewhere – Proenza Schouler, Jil Sander, Maiyet and 3.1 Phillip Lim are my favorites.
NS: I am a big fan of Josh Goraya, Kardo and Lacquer Embassy which we stock at Indelust. Established brands that fit with my style include Prada, Theory, Vince and Ermenegildo Zegna.
How has the dynamic changed with you two working together?
SRS: When we got married, I always thought we would have careers in separate industries. Our common love for philanthropy brought about Indelust.com. I think we make a great team as husband and wife as well as business partners. I definitely feel starting a business together has brought us closer but we have a greater respect for one another’s talents and capabilities.
NS: Sana is a super creative woman, but I didn’t realize what a savvy entrepreneur she was until we started working together. I’m the numbers and spreadsheet guy but she has an intuitive feel for how a business should operate and what projections are attainable. Starting a business with Sana gave me amazing insight into who she is as a person. I agree with her, it’s definitely brought us closer together.
Your personal style.
SRS: Minimal, clean and sometimes statement worthy, ha!
NS: I now know why we are married. I echo similar sentiments – clean, minimal. I would say I am more understated; I am not as fashion forward as my wife.
How have your experiences running Maison and 23 Carat shaped your journey thus far and prepared you to take on this new venture?
SRS: I have learned so much from Maison and 23 Carat and I continue to learn from them and starting up INDELUST.COM too. I believe I am able to take calculated risks based on my prior experience and succeed from that.
The hardest and most rewarding things about being entrepreneurs?
SRS: The hardest thing about being an entrepreneur is that you never stop working whether your wedding is happening or you are ill, you just keep at it! The most rewarding thing about my business is that I have an incredible team who are unbelievably supportive and dedicated. Without them, there would be no 23 Carat or Indelust.com.
NS: When you are an entrepreneur, you don’t have the luxury to focus on one discrete task and execute it perfectly. You have 100 different things that need to be done yesterday, and so you need to be able to delegate yet maintain the highest quality output. The upside to being an entrepreneur is that there is no better feeling than successfully articulating and executing on a vision.
A piece of advice to anyone looking to start something new?
SRS: Do your homework before launching a business. Study your target market, your potential competitors and understand what is going on in your environment. Differentiate yourself and create an identity based on that!
NS: Surround yourself with capable people who believe in what you are doing and will stick with you through the tough times. If you are lucky as I am, you will find a partner whose strengths are your weaknesses and vice-versa.