The journey of Anusha Shaikh in the World of Fashion began at the age of 21 when she completed her graduation in the commerce stream and a course in fashion designing simultaneously. Although she completed her studies in Bangalore, she returned back to Goa. She was unable to pursue her internship in Mumbai, where she was getting the offers, due to the lack of permission from her father. But she continued to pursue her dream in Goa and finally, she set up her own studio in the south of Goa.
After returning back to Goa from Bangalore, Anusha had nothing much to do. “My mom had this friend who was running a charity school for Chetna and when I really had nothing much to do this was when she would send me there telling me to spend my time with the kids there so I could mingle with them,” she said adding, the continuous visits to the Chetna School developed her interest in kids and she decided to do something for them. “When I visited the charity, they would always ask me what fashion designing and what modeling looks like. This is when the idea came up. I would do a show where these kids would be given a chance to walk the ramp for once and that I would design some dresses for them.”
The small thought process that began with visits to Charity Schools later developed into a full-fledged idea of a fashion show. “My first event was supported by Goa Tourism and a lot of people who saw my design liked it and took it positively. Many of them suggested to I start my own store and fashion outlet. The store finally happened in the year 2018, within a year after the event,” said Anusha.
The Runway Inspiration
Talking about the concept fashion show, , “The Runway Inspiration,” Anusha said that the idea of the show originated from an inspiration of giving a platform to physically challenged children by allowing them to walk on the ramp alongside professional celebrities. “Getting them all together on one platform was the main inspiration and idea behind this. The professionals and the people who never imagined being on that platform at the same time and all the proceeds that we had and collected of the event were given to charity,” she said.
Talking about the collaborations for The Runway Inspiration show Anusha said that she had collaborated with many organizations and institutes that sponsored her event. “For the 1st season we had tied up with CHETNA and for the 2nd season it was NAB and this was the concept behind “Runway Inspiration” which wasn’t essentially a plan to hold a big event but a small idea to give those kids a chance to experience the ramp and the show because they are very curious to know it,” she added.
Anusha’s visits to that Charity School gave birth to the rest of her dreams. “The idea arose because of the curiosity on the part of the kids that I started working on it once it came to me, and that’s how it essentially started. There was a partial language barrier, but modeling is something most girls would aspire to do. When we did the show, it wasn’t just giving them the dresses and making them walk the ramp. We groomed them in all spheres such as fitness, and trained them for a month prior to the event,” said Anusha adding, that she would personally train them on how to walk on the ramp “Honestly, they outperformed themselves better than the professional models because the 2nd round where the professional models came in I could see a few mistakes but these girls who we trained were so good and they learned and trained well.”
The second season was completely different from the 1st as this time we had the girls from the different schools and colleges besides the specially-abled children. “We trained them for fitness and grooming, and for this we collaborated with Norbert’s for Fitness and Bina Punjani for grooming in Season 2. They trained these girls for a month and they did their life’s first ever walk on the ramp at the event, post which they got amazing opportunities to work with well know designers and other popular shows in Mumbai as well,” said Anusha.
The show gave them opportunities that they wouldn’t have usually, but at the same time Anusha didn’t make them feel as though they were lacking in any sphere: she treated them the way she would treat able-bodied people and at the same time she provided these opportunities. “Even when I was working with them, it was hard for them to communicate at an open level with me and yet be free about what they said. But post the event, now as they work with other people, they have that level of confidence that they previously did not. Not just the girls, but I also helped and supported the associations through the various sponsor funds indirectly.”
Anusha started her first boutique in Margao after the success of the Runaway Inspiration shows. She took the support of her father for the opening of the store but she did not remain dependent entirely on her father for the funds. I Instead, she applied for a business loan at EDC. “If I had to take the entire support from my Dad then I wouldn’t have had the pressure to pay him back but looking back, I still feel this is the best choice I ever made as it made me independent,” she averred.
The Covid did impact her business, just as it did hundreds of businesses in the state. “I also felt a pinch when I had to pay my loans, as I wasn’t earning a single rupee, but all the expenses were ongoing. The salaries and all were constant, but I’m glad that with the help and support of my mom and dad, who have always stood strong beside me, I am still there in the market today and never gave up,” she said.
“The thing I faced when I started the store was the issue of the off-season dilemma, but this was something I was expecting because this happens in Goa. But the pandemic was not at all expected, which, as I said did affect a few things but I managed to stay afloat. Normally the idea is that you start a store and then get in touch with people, but prior to this I had already been in touch with the people and approached them beforehand so that is one of the reasons why I expected a good start in the initial opening.” Anusha makes everything for women right from ethnic wear to cocktail gowns, and casuals, to blazers, formal trousers, and all this for girls too. “Now we have even started stitching clothes for grooms. Brides come to me as they want to match up with their grooms, so we do that as well,” said Anusha.
“We have all sorts of clients and pricing and we have sarees starting from 3k to 20k and the bridal range would start at 20k onwards, which I would say is very good considering Goa’s market,” said Anusha adding, She does luxury wear as well if the client is looking for it, and all this depends on the requirement,” said Anusha. She also has a range of daily wear for someone looking for contemporary styles, or casuals, “Currently we also have collaborated with people to curate jewelry and accessories that are available with us,” she added.
Anusha also has a plan of opening a store in Panaji but that will take some time. “I am definitely looking for opportunities to grow, not just in Goa, but any place that my career would take me. I consider myself as a person who would risk it and try things in life and take any challenge that comes up, as compared to a person who would want to play it safe because in my case, if it works it works, if it doesn’t then that would not be a problem.”