BASED IN: NEW YORK
What made you want to pursue jewelry design after a career as a lawyer?
I enjoyed being a lawyer and I learned a great deal, but after practicing law for eight years I was looking to uncover something I felt more passionate about. Becoming an entrepreneur presented new and exciting challenges, engaged my creativity and also provided me with an opportunity to find a better work/life equation.
So many people are eager to make the switch in their professional lives but afraid to take the leap, what advice do you have for them?
My advice is to always keep your eyes open to opportunities and to network. You never know what’s out there unless you look and sometimes it can be right under your nose. When I was thinking about making a career change, one of the best connections I made was an older gentleman I use to chat to on the cross-town bus in NYC who had just moved from India. At the time, since I was practicing law, I paid little attention to what was written on his business card, but later when I was seeking out guidance, the fact that he was the head of the Indian Trade Commission meant a lot. We had lunch and his advice was immeasurable.
What’s the background behind the “Who’s Sari now” collection?
I wanted to design something that was more “green” than my typical collection. After much research and experimentation, I hit upon using upcycled sari fabrics and the result is Who’s Sari Now?. I was also looking to give back to the community, after years in the business I realized that helping people was more important to me than jumping on the next trend. I was fortunate enough to meet the founder of Apne Aap, Ruchira Gupta. Her organization rescues women and children from sex trafficking in India and provides them with a job and education. It was the perfect match! 20-25% of proceeds from sales goes towards educating these young children and I employ many of the women in making the collection. Changing lives in this way has been so rewarding.
How do you incorporate social responsibility into your business?
I have serious concerns about “fast fashion” so being socially responsible in the way I do business is very important to me. Paying a livable wage, ensuring healthy working conditions and minimizing any impact on the environment, is an integral part of my business strategy.
What advice do you have for creating a compelling brand?
To be compelling your brand has to be authentic. It has to evolve from a place of genuine passion. My advice is to spend time figuring out what you are truly passionate about and don’t be afraid to fail.
What do you envision for the future of Rosena Sammi?
My hope is to focus more of my creations on giving back to the community. My Who’s Sari Now? Collection has been my most gratifying and it has helped me put into perspective how I can create positive change in the world through what I do.