by Zara Husaini
This post was originally published on our partner website India.com:
You may have heard that two friends should never go into business together. After all, people love to warn would-be entrepreneurs of the dangers that surface when you combine business and friendship. But Shradha Mehta Bhansali and Anisha Bhasin Mukherjee, the founders of Dress For The Day, aren’t just surviving as two friends-turned-co-founders—they are thriving.
“We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders but toughest critics. It’s kind of like a marriage,” Mukherjee said. “When we’re in the zone, at meetings, on calls, cranking out emails, making decks, it’s all business and we make sure to keep it that way. But, we always take breaks to crack jokes, watch the latest adorable kitten GIF, listen to our favorite 90s jams and snack—we are always snacking—to keep the momentum going in a positive way. We truly are the perfect counterpart to one another and have been so lucky.”
Bhansali and Mukherjee clearly have a lot in common—Mukherjee can speak for her co-founder as well as she speaks for herself, and both women have that innate entrepreneurial spirit.
“From a young age we knew we were destined to start our own business. We were both equally inquisitive children,” Mukherjee said. “A deep-rooted love for fashion is another commonality. We both have very particular tastes when it comes to fashion. Whether it was [me] rocking one of [my] dad’s vintage Christian Dior Homme sweaters in 7th grade and belting it as a dress, or Shradha demanding a specific hair accessory for the first day of third grade, we’ve always marched to the beat of our own drum when it comes to personal style.”
Before starting Dress For The Day, Mukherjee, a first-generation immigrant from Kenya, practiced law and Bhansali, a second-generation immigrant from India, worked as a brand manager. The ladies, who are old friends, came up with the idea for their venture together.
“It all started at an outdoor café in New York City in September of 2011,” Mukherjee said. They had been catching up over post-work drinks when an idea struck. Both women had important events on the horizon and while they wanted to pick up the perfect outfits for those and other occasions, they also knew that expenses would add.
“It then hit [us], why not create a website that factored in weather, budget, occasion and personal style to assist with daily and future dressing dilemmas?” Mukherjee said.
Mukherjee described the decision to combine her own business background with Bhansali’s design experience as the foundation of their business. Dress For The Day began as a project wedged in during evenings and weekends when the co-founders would work tirelessly to map out and research their idea. In May 2013, they launched their website.
“It took us about one year from initial concept to website launch date. We’re always growing and hitting new milestones, so we’re always striving to get further off the ground. The honest answer is that [getting the business off the ground] never really stops,” Mukherjee said.
In typical technology entrepreneur fashion, she throws in a hashtag to illustrate her point, saying: “#startuplife.”
Mukherjee and Bhansali agree on what the most rewarding aspect of starting their company has been: “Creating something of our own that in some small or big way, makes users’ lives easier” is what they call the best part of the whole experience.
“The feedback from our users has been tantamount to us continuing to build and grow. When we receive messages that we’ve ‘saved the day’ for someone’s meet the parents fashion fiasco, or that we helped a user discover her new favorite gold shark tooth necklace, we know it was all worth it. However trite or, however significant, if we’ve managed to make a ‘what do I wear’ decision that much easier for someone, then we’ve done our job right,” Mukherjee said.
In addition to their partnership with Sports Illustrated, their most recent endeavor includes launching the Dress For The Day mobile application for iOS users.
Mukherjee called the process of launching a tech product “extremely exciting.”
“The app was actually a lot of fun to launch, relative to the website, which was stress central! We’d been to this rodeo before so we knew the overall protocol of days leading up to launch, the adrenaline rush the day of and then the hard work that would come immediately afterwards, but we were prepared and ready,” she added.
Both founders consider themselves triple threats: Fashion professionals, tech innovators and, of course, entrepreneurs.
“We always joke that as co-founders of a startup, we’re CEO and janitor and everything in between,” Mukherjee said. This well-rounded perspective is at the root of every decision this fashion-meets-tech company makes—and Mukherjee insists that the intersection of fashion and technology is a very important one.
“Fashion and tech truly go hand in hand,” she said. “The merger of fashion with tech is one of the most exciting [phenomena] of our generation,” Mukherjee said. “Extremes on the surface, with fashion being aesthetically driven and tech being functionally driven, there really is an invaluable synergy between them. This is why we created one product to carry both. Let’s take tech and make it sexy with fashion. Let’s take fashion and make it intuitive with a few clicks of a mouse. DFTD is paving the road to this vision.”
Zara Husaini is a Chicago-based writer/editor who has covered everything from fashion to breaking news. She’s a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism. You can find her personal blog at statementscene.com.