Updated: Aug 3, 2020
Traditionally, raksha bandhan is when sisters tie a rakhi, a gold and red thread bracelet, onto their brothers’ wrists in exchange for his protection. During the tying, a prayer is said asking for happiness and prosperity for both.
In modern times, while rakhis are still tied, it’s more of a celebration of sibling love. In honor of raksha bandhan this week, we wanted to honor siblings who used their shared experiences to create the ultimate legacy—a business.
When founder Monica Royer was holding her daughter in the delivery room, she had an overwhelming sense that she only wanted anything touching her newborn’s skin to be “the softest, most trustworthy fabric available.” Not being able to easily find it, she teamed up with her younger brother—Andy Dunn, founder of online men’s clothing company Bonobos, now a subsidiary of Walmart—to form their namesake organic baby clothing company in 2014. In a true story of sibling support Monica, whose Indian immigrant mother warned her she may have to support Andy as he started his then-unknown company, advised her brother as he grew Bonobos and, in turn, he serves as Board Chairman of Monica + Andy.
Touted as “self-care for the mind, body and spirit,” Blume was created when sisters Taran and Bunny Ghatrora began asking themselves questions like “Why is the way the world treats periods so weird?” and “Is the silent treatment society gives periods somehow connected to the shame girls grow up feeling about their bodies?” The duo created Blume, which means “blossom” or “bloom” and offers everything from organic pads and tampons to essential oils for cramps and acne, to destigmatize periods and help create a generation of confident and conscious women.
When Viral Modi was preparing for impending fatherhood, he wanted to gift his daughter with something special, something more unique than engraved jewelry, something that his daughter could enjoy immediately and grow with, something that connected her back to his Indian roots. His sister Avani Modi Sarkar, then also pregnant with a daughter, came up with an idea—the Baby Ganesh. Since then, the Modi siblings have grown their
offerings to include the Baby Hanuman collection and Baby Krishna collection, coming soon.
Sisters Niki and Ritika Shamdasani founded Sani in 2017 after years of struggling to find South Asian clothes rooted in their Indian heritage but with modern designs that resonated with first-generation South Asian Americans. Within just three years of launching, the duo made national headlines by becoming the first South Asian label available on Rent the Runway. The partnership allows Rent the Runway customers to now rent South Asian formal wear for a fraction of the cost of typical lenghas and anarkali pieces.
With a background in beauty, wellness and fashion, perhaps it was only a matter of time before siblings, Akash and Nikita Mehta, founded the vegan and cruelty-free haircare, Fable and Mane. Inspired by their memories of their grandmother handcrafting blends of plant oils to massage their long thick hair, the duo set out on a journey to share the Indian beauty secrets the world over. The collection includes a hair mask, shampoo, conditioner and treatment oil.
When Tarul Kode Tripathi had her first child, daughter Sanaya, she made a commitment “to never stay silent about the things that matter the most.” She teamed up with younger cousin Tejal Angolkar—though they grew up as sisters amongst a large, tight-knit extended family—to form Sanaya Set, founded on the premise that each person can make a positive impact toward social justice, intersectionality and style. While the duo curates subscription boxes that pulls items from companies founded by or supporting womxn and minorities, they also donate 10 percent of proceeds from each box to a different womxn-empowering charity each time.
In the late 90s, at a time when diverse cosmetics were not at all common, Monal Patel, Priti Patel, Gargi Patel and Pinki Gosal--three sisters and a close childhood friend, “all sisters by any measure” as the quartet says—were inspired by the question plaguing many women of color: “Why doesn’t makeup look good on me?” The four put in “years of research, development and meticulous attention to detail,” to found Vasanti, which means “of spring” in Sanskrit and now the line has expanded to foundation, dark undereye circle concealer, kajal eyeliner, bronzers, lipsticks and skincare.
Avani Nadkarni is a former journalist who currently works in tech PR and is forever navigating the tricky balance of trying to raise her child in the U.S. while teaching him about his Indian and Sri Lankan roots.