Happy 1 Year to Riya Collective team

What we thought March 2020 would be like: We would be heading into YC Demo Day, right off the back of our record-high revenue month and our two week pop-up in NYC. We’d sail into wedding season, knowing that every one of our carefully laid plans had paid off.


What March 2020 was actually like: COVID-19 hit in mid March. Markets crashed just as we slid into a revised online version of Demo Day. We had to close our NYC showroom early. Wedding season was effectively postponed until further notice.

But we came out of it with a set of incredible investors who believe in us and our business. In the matter of two weeks, we have re-structured our entire team (we’ve retained everyone - just in new roles), re-written our goals for Q2 (yes, we found ways for our weddings-based business to be productive even when there are no weddings), and created team processes to work from home across 3 time zones and keep our strategy agile. 


Today marks the 1-year anniversary of the day Arian and I began working on Riya Collective together, full-time. In reflecting on this past year, I realize that - in fact - adapting and learning to thrive in uncertainty has been the theme of our first year. Perhaps it’s the theme of every startup, everywhere, all the time. And it’s been nothing short of exhilarating. 

It’s been a year of growth and challenge and passion and creativity and so many moments of pure joy. I am taking this time to reflect on what we are most proud of from this past year so that we will always have this to look back on: 

  • Growing a team of 8 diverse, passionate women (spread from NYC to Austin to SF) who bring their A-game to work every day. By far the most rewarding past of this journey has been finding this team. To even believe that 1 person much less 8 can share your passion and your mission and your drive with you every single day; can believe in you and trust you with their livelihoods and get their hands dirty and build with you is the most humbling feeling. And to watch them take your vision and make it 10x better leaves us speechless.

  •  Being part of some of the most memorable, exciting events of the year for our customers. Every time a customer told us they felt like a princess in our dress. Or that they had never worn anything so beautiful and elaborate. The time the mother of the bride cried in our showroom seeing her daughter in our dress. All the times that brides have brought their friends and found their perfect outfits with us. The times when guests have provided feedback that they felt so included in the wedding and culture. Each of those times, we get to think, we created that. We could not be more honored to be part of your special day.

  • Turning “we’re not your average startup” into an advantage. Let’s face it, renting Indian clothing is not the typical startup idea. We have loved the chance to bring our culture and our experience to the world stage through Y Combinator, Vogue, Techcrunch, and our roster of incredible investors. We are proud to show that businesses built to serve minority populations are important and relevant, and growing even more so every day.

  • We held on to each other tightly through it all. I started this business with my best friend and if everything else ended tomorrow I would have no regrets because I got to go on the adventure of a lifetime with her. We’ve cried in the back of ubers together and in at least one elevator. We’ve had too many “oh my god did that just happen” moments to count. We’ve watched this little idea we had three years ago (for which we carried massive piles of Indian clothes up and down the stairs of our apartment building every saturday) turn into something real. But through it all, we have trusted each other with unquestioning loyalty. We’ve been honored by the other’s trust and worked hard to live up to it. 
  • I am well aware that in the big picture of what we are working to build, we are at the very beginning. It is not yet time to look back and pat ourselves on the backs, there’s way too much still to be done. But that doesn’t mean that every once in a while (once a year for now), we can’t reflect and say we are proud of how far we’ve come. And today, we certainly are. 

    With our deepest thanks to our customers, our team, our investors, our South Asian female entrepreneur community, our city, our peeps (South Park Commons, YC W20), and our husbands, we ask for your continued support as we forge ahead into these uncertain times and plan to prove again that we will thrive. We hope that we will make you proud. 

    With love,

    Sarina and Arian 

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