Where people once waited for their smog checks to be complete, today’s brides-to-be can search for attire for their special day.
After nearly five years of running Kynah, an e-commerce fashion company, Aisha Rawji has opened her first appointment-only, brick-and-mortar store in Santa Monica specializing in Indian bridal and wedding guest attire.
On the corner of Cloverfield and Pico in Santa Monica, Rawji’s grandparents worked at a gas station that was eventually purchased by them and passed down to Rawji’s father. He converted it into a smog shop and purchased the building next door to use as a waiting room.
Today, that waiting room has been converted into Kynah’s first physical location. “It’s really nice because my family has all this history on that corner,” Rawji said.
Kynah – which means “female leader” – is curated with pieces from over 25 designers including The Little Black Bow and Gopi Vaid. Rawji said “a lot of thought and analysis” goes into designing and curating the garments in her store.
“It’s looking at the industry, figuring out what’s missing and what are people looking for,” Rawji said. “And understanding the difference between how women shop for Indian clothes in the US versus in India or anywhere else in the world.”
Before Kynah, Rawji worked in New York in ad-tech and retail-tech while her passions lay elsewhere. Rawji’s mom ran a clothing boutique out of her home in the 90s and working in fashion was her dream from a young age.
“My mom knew how difficult the industry was, so she encouraged me to just go get a four-year degree and then figure it out after,” Rawji recalled. “All roads led back to fashion.”
When comparing running a digital store to a physical one, the favorite choice for Rawji is pretty clear. She said nothing beats the experience of being able to chat with a customer and let them touch and feel the products.
“We might be the first Indian clothing store in Santa Monica, so I’m really just hoping we change the game and change the industry,” Rawji said. “I think we’re already doing that, but we’re just going to go forwards and upwards from here.”