[100 Emerging Women Leaders] Meet wedding designer Aashna Saran, who created Dia Mirza’s sustainable garden wedding
In 2016, at the age of 24, Aashna Saran founded Aash Studio () to bring in more creativity. As a child, she had spent long hours with her mother, Seema Singh, as they redecorated their house.
Given her artistic inclination, Aashna studied at Central Saint Martins, London, where she pursued Performance Design and Practice. Her creative self, along with her inborn business acumen, has only grown with time.
Today, Aashna is one of the most sought after wedding design specialists. She was responsible for the immaculate setup at Anissa and Armaan Jain’s proposal in 2019.
In fact, in 2021, she designed the most talked-about wedding — Dia Mirza’s sustainable garden wedding — where every detail, from the locally sourced flowers to the flower petal cones made from banana leaves, was intricately planned by the entrepreneur.
Starting with a questionnaire and the development of multiple mood boards, Aashna, and her in-house team of over 100 local artisans, a production and a design team, work tirelessly to transform spaces into a harmonious love story setting.
Aashna proactively works in cohesion with her ensemble on each detail of every wedding to paint the perfect picture.
In a conversation with HerStory, Aashna talks about her journey and building Aashna Saran Design.
Edited excerpts from the interaction:
HerStory (HS): Tell us about your family and childhood?
Aashna Saran (AS): Coming from a business family with entrepreneur parents, I was always inclined towards entrepreneurship. My dad has been an entrepreneur in the food business, and my mother has always been creative, designing clothes for the past 25 years.
I attended Cathedral and John Connon School in Bombay and went on to Central Saint Martins University in London.
HS: What got you to start designing shoes when you were 15? Tell us how did you go about it.
AS: Since I was a child, I've always been creative — crafting bookmarks and looking for them in my building — and I've always enjoyed arts and crafts. I was on a summer vacation in the US when I came across some lovely colourful flip flops, which I thought I could bring back home, use the skills I gained from seeing my mother’s embroidery work, and thought this might be a lot of fun for young girls like myself.
At the age of 15, I designed and sold flip flops, and later established ‘House of Cushions’ — my second venture. Learning on the job with minimal prior experience helped me become a self-taught entrepreneur, creating the base for Aashna Saran Designs.
HS: Why did you choose to startup? How did you go about it?
AS: I had always wanted to do something on my own, and the prospect of starting a business had always piqued my interest. I'd seen my parents do it, so it came naturally to me. My interest in the wedding business was a result of my ethnicity and culture.
Born and raised in a Punjabi family in Mumbai, I attended numerous weddings as a child, where I would sit patiently at the mandap in awe of the two people who were going to spend the rest of their lives together. I would watch every little ritual, detail, and ceremony with my eyes peeled.
Taking inspiration from these childhood experiences, I established Aashna Saran Design in 2016, following two successful entrepreneurial ventures.
I started off in my parents’ garage, where I would buy supplies for the first several events I planned, worked from home, and did everything by myself -- including design, sourcing, client meetings, and budgeting.
HS: What were the challenges and biases you had to face?
AS: Starting a business at a young age presents many challenges. I had one year of job experience when I started, and I wanted to build something on my own, but I believe it was my struggle that paid off.
To grasp that, operating a business is more than just one aspect, and it necessitates attention to a wide range of topics, such as accounting, social media, and business growth.
Being young entails having to prove yourself, ensuring your work speaks for itself, and clients twice your age can trust you with their children's most significant day.
HS: Can you elaborate on setting up the operations? How did you go about it, and where did you get the funding for the same?
AS: I pretty much self-funded Aash Studio. I was thinking about how I wanted to start my business. I knew that although design and weddings are my passion, it couldn't be a business if you didn't grasp the arithmetic from the beginning.
I began with small events, invested a little money, and began reinvesting all of my profits back into the business. And with hard work, perseverance, and caution in making judgments and heeding tight advice, I was able to establish Aash studio.
HS: What was the COVID-19 impact like for the business?
AS: Yes, the pandemic has affected the business, the industry, and individual lives. The most tragic part of COVID-19 is that weddings employ a big number of individuals, and as a consequence, a significant number of people have been negatively impacted as a result of the impact on the wedding business.
We've had months where the business was sparse, but by God's grace, we've been blessed with projects, met amazing people along the way, and gained fresh perspectives into the wedding design.
Our prices are dependent on the client, and décor is something that you may create and customise. We like listening to our clients and tailoring our services to their needs and budget.
HS: What are your future plans?
AS: My goal is to expand the brand with a key focus on design. In fact, we've got some exciting projects in the works for the interior design space.
We're looking to work all around the country, and we are excited to see where it leads us. The goal is to continue to make something, which is impactful and meaningful. I'm hoping this year closes on a more positive note.
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