A business is no easy feat to keep afloat with the current pandemic, however, sisters, Ankita and Gayatri Mallika Bansal tapped into a market that is unique to their culture yet resonates with everyone. The co-founders sat down to chat with me via a video interview about their denim fashion brand, THERE!, which provides the comfort of a local hometown boutique all the way from New Delhi, India.
Denim does not discriminate against age, weight, or skin tone. It is all-inclusive, much like the company’s message, “Here, there, everywhere,” Gayatri explains. The brand is for everyone, every season, and every occasion.
The entrepreneurs built global connections with consumers after Ankita’s profile and Gayatri’s guest appearance on the Netflix series Indian Matchmaking. As a result of the positive recognition, the two extended their business reach by adding international shipping to their website. “We have been working our asses off the last two months. We’ve gone crazy,” Ankita admits.
In preparing to speak with them, I planned a traditional Q&A format, prepped my alarm clock for the time difference between New York and New Delhi, and practiced my questions. Once I was on the call with Ankita and Gayatri, I was at ease. The sisters were warm and forthcoming about their experiences in fashion and life. I felt as if I was catching up with old friends.
They were introduced to the world of fabric and fashion through their mother. “Past experiences hold great importance to how THERE! came about. As children, we saw our mom work with fabric: going out, getting it, talking to us about the fabric she chose, and stitching it for us,” Ankita reveals. As adolescents, the pair took pieces of fabric home to create garments on their own. Little did they know those special moments with their mother and each other would lead to the growing company they have today.
“Sometimes in life, some decisions that you make are just in the moment. You don’t think about it. You just do it,” Ankita exclaims with a smile full of gratitude. The strong, supportive bond of their sisterhood lends to their business and products. With Gayatri’s interest to start their brand and Ankita’s prior experience in the fashion industry, the partnership was a seamless fit.
THERE! was established approximately 3 years ago with denim as the fabric of focus. “In the corporate world, in India, at least, every Friday is considered to be a casual workday. Everyone gets so excited to wear their denim. Everyone dresses up in their jeans and their t-shirts to come into the office. That’s when I started thinking, why is denim just casual wear? I am someone that wears it as formal attire,” Ankita describes her thought process. Her words triggered the nostalgia of my pre-pandemic life, where I looked forward to wearing jeans on casual workdays.
“If you check our website, how we style our products, how we create them, it gives you a sense that you don’t only have to wear it for casual Friday. You can wear denim to a cocktail party,” she continues. “How you layer your clothes also makes a big difference.” THERE! is a great option for individuals that seek comfort, creativity, and style in their post-pandemic transition back to work, school, and normalcy.
A hot seller is the maroon denim blazer and pant set, reminiscent of the beautiful richness of red wine. Another popular item is the soft and feminine denim silk dress. I loved it so much, I purchased it myself! Shortly after it was delivered, Ankita messaged me directly to follow up on the fit and to ensure my satisfaction with the product. I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth, lightweight, and comfortable the fabric is.
The co-founders’ favorite pieces include the breezy notched high low jacket with handmade embroidery; the cotton candy pink shirt which features cooling linen sleeves for breathable wear; and the beige ruffles sleeves top and back slit pant set. “The set has a slit in the back and bouncy accentuating sleeves that give you a curve to the body,” Gayatri describes.
Each purchase comes with a handwritten note to provide that personal family touch. “Ankita makes a point that every time someone places an order, for 90%-95% of the people, she will call them to have a chat and ask for their measurements,” Gayatri explains. Some pieces are more flexible with all body types. For example, the silk denim dress I ordered would not require measurements whereas a pant or suit set would.
“If there is a product the customer may have an issue with, we must follow up,” Ankita adds. The bespoke aspect of THERE! encourages sustainability as it prevents returns or back and forth of international shipments. For the future of the brand, they would like to get their outreach to 100% once they are able to expand and hire more employees. Ankita and Gayatri commit to high-quality products and excellent customer service.
Together, the pair are like yin and yang—a perfect balance of personalities, love, and support when it comes to work and play. “I think it’s very important to give yourself those little joys and breaks while you’re working. Otherwise, you exhaust yourself to a limit,” Ankita states. Gayatri, on the other hand, is a workaholic. “I love working,” she says, “I think your early twenties is the time people actually gain the maximum mileage out of their career.”
The sisters have been fortunate to find the right business partner within each other. Their presence in the industry is bound to expand, and they are up for the challenges. Ankita encourages other women and upcoming entrepreneurs not to feel down about failures but to get back up and work harder.
“Don’t be scared of taking risks. Without taking risks, you’ll never know what the outcome could be. If you feel like this is it for you, and this will make all the difference in your life, go for it. If it doesn’t happen instantly, it will happen over time. I have seen it happen with me,” Ankita explains.
As for their love lives, Ankita and Gayatri welcome romantic relationships at their own time and pace. As we see in the series Indian Matchmaking, the women have supportive parents. “In our family, there is no pressure to get married” Gayatri reveals, “I think having a dialogue, having a conversation is very important in understanding both sides.” For now, the relationships they hold dear are with their beloved customers.