Sana Patel was born in Pakistan, raised for the most part in the US, traversed through a host of successful tech gigs, married a Gujarati man and quit a full-time high paying job. But those are not the only ways in which the techie-turned-entrepreneur has broken barriers. Patel launched Aara by Sana, a luxury resort wear brand last year.
Inspired by her mother who owned a boutique workshop in Pakistan – Patel’s early exposure to fabric, garments and tailoring led to a defined inclination in the teenager towards design. Raised by her mother in New Jersey, design transported the young Sana, who was 13 when she started helping her mother with the workshop, to another place.
Patel majored in computer science from Rutgers North and even though her “heart wasn’t entirely in it,” she worked as a systems administrator for a credentialing company. She later worked for over eight years as a techie in the hospitality industry, but that didn’t cut it either.
In the summer of 2018, Patel launched Aara by Sana on the day of Eid, a fashion label that she created using statement resort wear pieces and with the idea that quality trumps everything.
“We use the finest fabric — chiffons and silks with leather, magnets instead of buttons, pieces that transition from beach to the city really easily.” The garments retail between $150-$2000 and now entail everything from custom couture blazers to lehengas.
It took a team of seven people and five days to hand beat the fabric for the blazer that has net and sequin work mixed with leather and studs.
The inspiration to venture into entrepreneurship came when she was planning a beach vacation with her family. “Going to the beach with them, I couldn’t find anything to wear that would make me feel confident, beautiful and comfortable – like a kaftan,” she said. “I got some fabric and made my first resort wear, and then wore it all summer. Subsequently, all my friends started inquiring about the piece.”
The first collection was made in New York and launched in Dubai. A search for better fabric took Patel back to Pakistan, after a gap of 18 years. Both, New York City and Lahore, inspire the second season collection.
Aara by Sana does 20 exquisite and exclusive styles per collection which is limited to a few pieces. Even though desi designs and fabrics are a big source of inspiration for her brand, Patel makes it a point to not get boxed into being known as a desi brand alone. “The role my roots have played in me picking the fabrics, having these amazing garments made out of kamdani etc., I’ve taken that and created a fusion,” she said. “It’s about bringing a little bit of our culture to everyone.”
Today, Patel is a mother of two kids and her reigning entrepreneurship mantra has to do with managing the family and work. “I talk to them about everything and keep them involved in the process,” she said about her family. “If there’s something you feel passionate about, you have to follow it. It’s a tough balance but definitely achievable.”
For more information on Sana and her garments, visit: www.aarabysana.com