Arti Anand & Komal Kushal Raj, Co-founders of NUMARI — Chic, Well-Fitting, Affordable Clothes Brand for Career Women
If you’re going to mentor for a startup accelerator and get assigned a team to advise, say your prayers that you land a rockstar pair like Arti Anand and Komal Kushal Raj. Arti and Komal are two women who love fashion and entrepreneurship – and their enthusiasm for these two things is infectious.
Why did they start NUMARI? Both have MBAs and navigated the treacherous “what to wear to work to be taken seriously as a woman” waters, and after struggling for years to find great-fitting clothes, they came together to form a company that solves this problem. At NUMARI, the twosome is finally giving smart, ambitious career women access to sophisticated, timeless, custom-fit dresses at the price of off-the-rack wares. Not surprisingly, when I asked the pair what was “the worst” was for them, they responded that it is “wearing clothes that make you feel insecure, uncomfortable, and/or cause self-doubt — the right clothes can be your armor; the wrong ones your baggage.”
Beyond ambition and great-fitting clothes, these co-founders and I share a love for a lifestyle with easy proximity (Manhattan studio over a commute, any day of the week!) and Malbec [a red wine from the Bordeaux region]. I’m curious what else this team has up their sleeves (yes, pun intended) as they are proving to be masters of execution, recognizing that being a successful entrepreneur means being ruthless about execution – after all, founders who have only great ideas are a dime a dozen.
Who are your heroes?
Komal: Steve Jobs, a visionary who taught us that one person can change the world.
Arti: Kevin Plank (Founder & CEO of athletic brand Under Armor): It’s inspiring to see someone from my alma mater (University of Maryland) build a billion-dollar brand from scratch. I’ve had a chance to see him speak on several occasions, and one of his quotes has always stayed with me: “I was smart enough to be naïve enough to not know what I couldn’t accomplish.”
What is your current challenge?
Time is the enemy of every start-up. There’s always more to do than there are hours in the day, but we’re fortunate to be building a fantastic team that takes initiative and is helping us move this ship forward.
Your greatest achievement?
Being where we are today — overcoming the odds in our personal lives to be present in this very moment.
What is your motto?
Attitude is everything.
Why are you an entrepreneur?
Quite simply, it’s just who we are. We live to build and create. We’re intelligent, motivated, and never afraid to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We have a big vision and the chutzpah to believe that we can make it a reality.
What problem are you solving?
The struggles of finding clothes that are stylish, fit well, and don’t break the bank.
What problem would you like solved?
Access to education and opportunity for women around the world.
We believe in living a life of no (or few) regrets. None memorable enough that we can think of at the moment.
Which talent would you like to have?
A: The talent to sing! It’s one that doesn’t come with practice; you either have it or you don’t. Both of our families are very musical – and we usually participate by clapping. It would be nice to sing along, but our vocal chords don’t cooperate!
Best pat on the back you’ve ever received?
Our families, acknowledging the risks we are taking, encouraging us to pursue our vision. It has been the most important and meaningful vote of confidence in our eyes.
Your pitch in 140 characters?
“NUMARI is an e-commerce brand that offers smart, ambitious women stylish dresses custom- fit to their body and preferences. It’s tailor-made for the modern age.”
Your bio in 6 words?
“Passionate, driven women with big vision.”
Your nails on a chalkboard moment?
Someone asking whether women really have a hard time with the fit of clothing. Just stand outside the dressing room of any women’s clothing store for ten minutes to hear the frustration.
The J.O.B you’d actually like?
The ones we’re in now are perfect, actually! Aside from the everyday emotional highs and lows of building a start-up, we’re living the dream.
Biggest misconception about being an entrepreneur?
That it’s “cool and glamorous.” It’s what most of our friends think. Entrepreneurship is en vogue these days and it seems like the thing to do. In reality, it’s requires a great deal of hard work and patience. While there are certainly lots of exciting aspects – especially as a fashion brand executing photo shoots and creating brand partnerships – much of the building process involves putting out fires, working extremely long hours, catching little sleep, and working on tasks that are “unsexy.”
Inc. or Rolling Stone or…..? Which magazine cover?
We’re torn between two: maybe Marie Claire for its style-meets-substance. Or Inc., because at the end of the day, we’re women who mean business.
What are you reading?
Emails. Lots of emails!
What book is your must read?
Freakonomics. There’s economic reasoning hiding behind everything.
What book did you read which would have been put to better use as a doorstop?
Do our MBA Accounting books count?
If I wanted to do what you’re doing…what’s your advice?
Convince ten people who are doing the kind of things you’re doing, or want to do, to meet you for a cup of coffee. Ask for insight and guidance. Listen. Then take action.
What conference would you like to keynote?
Forbes Global CEO Conference.
Short cut, long route, road less travelled? What’s your roadmap?
Get in and drive. Look for directions along the way.
Podium you’d like to stand on.
Delivering a TED Talk.
One place in time you’d like to visit?
The early 1900’s, when women worked with their seamstresses to help design and craft their unique wares. Clothes were so personal then. It was a time of quality over quantity.
Part of the trick to staying focused?
Logging out of your e-mail account(s). Incoming emails can be incredibly distracting. Or sometimes working odd hours to avoid that menacing inbox.
Komal: I’m a morning person and get the most work done between 4am and 9am.
Arti: I, on the other founding hand, am a night owl, and I’m most productive between 10pm and 3am.
One last thing — what’s the question I should be asking you?
How can I support two smart and ambitious women entrepreneurs, while treating myself to great fitting clothes? We’re so glad you asked!!! Visit numari.com and purchase a dress. Use special code SharpHeels at checkout for the next 7 days to save $25 on your first purchase.
TAGS: entrepreneurs Kelly Hoey