Designer, writer and entrepreneur Akhila Shaha built her two brands, Akhila Shaha and Yours, Mammamia (YM) in less than a year once her business came into being in June 2020. Akhila did not initially see herself becoming a designer; in fact, she dropped out of university during her third year because she realised she did not want to pursue a career in architecture. She chose to do a fashion designing course afterwards, which she enjoyed thoroughly. She eventually became a designer for Aarong.
The fact that she grew up surrounded by designers, musicians, and artists at home intrinsically led her towards this course, even though she did not initially know which career path she would take on. Working as a designer at Aarong was a period of revelation for Akhila since she found genuine contentment at seeing people wear clothes that were designed by her. That happiness ignited in her the desire to create a clothing line of her own.
She received indubitable encouragement from her mother, and best friend, Preanka, regarding her goals. Preanka also had been nurturing the idea of launching a maternity wear brand. Consequently, Akhila Shaha and YM were launched around the same time.
The satisfaction of customers is one of the most significant reasons for Akhila for even wanting to create a brand of her own. "My motto is to provide the best experience for customers at the most reasonable prices. The quality of the fabric and the comfort in designs are also elements that I prioritise, when making business decisions," she said. She chooses limited stocked fabrics from anywhere in Dhaka, and prefers to keep an eye out for soft, bright and high-quality fabrics.
She also provides customised casual and maternity wear at reasonable prices. She puts effort into personalising each dress to the customer's requirements to ensure the best fit for each body type.
"In the case of YM, a woman's journey of motherhood inspires us to create comfortable and functional designs for all expecting and new mothers. As for Akhila Shaha, our motto is, 'be bold, be brave, be you', which inspires me to create designs that are simple yet stylish for everyday women," Akhila adds.
YM recently launched a new collection with summer friendly designs, consisting of beautiful summer wear, made in breathable and soft fabrics featuring shirt dresses, kimono and kaftans. "Each dress of the maternity line has built-in nursing access, so it was fun to create Persian inspired Kaftans and Japanese inspired Kimonos that are nursing friendly and adjustable with belts," Akhila says. Akhila Shaha, on the other hand, launched their last collection in March. Keeping the summer months in mind, their latest collection features light colours, loose but flattering cuts and a number of different styles to beat the heat.
In the long run, YM hopes to become a one-stop centre for all expecting and new mothers for their maternity needs – from wellness counselling, nutrition guidance, and gynecologist referencing among other things.
Akhila wants to be able to make positive differences in the lives of as many people as possible. Both of her online businesses are active on Facebook.