All About Bedi
The Beginnings of Bedi
If you have been keeping up with Aimon and Fashion Talks, you’ll know that Aimon and Emily went to NYFW in September. On top of attending normal NYFW events, they also attended the first ever SANYFW that featured many South Asian designers and businesses. Recently, we had the opportunity of interviewing one of the SANYFW designers, Alice Narang the Founder/CEO of Bedi. Read on to hear about Alice’s journey with Bedi, her design process and inspiration, and what she has in store for Bedi’s future.
Can you take us back in time and talk about your journey in the fashion industry and where this all started?
Like many people, Alice said that she was conditioned to pursue a career as a lawyer, doctor, accountant, etc. For most of her life, fashion was a hobby, a passion, and a dream, but not something she thought she could realistically pursue as a career and make a living off of. Consequently, she went to college for accounting, but she was miserable. So, halfway through her college career, she knew she had to change her major to fashion and go back to the things that came naturally to her.
She reminisced about her nine year old self who dragged her mom to the fabric store, to buy materials and a children’s sewing machine, for an idea she had to make her first shirt. She says that the shirt wasn’t cute but as a child, she was so excited and proudly showed it off to her entire family. Alice remembers watching fashion shows and being enticed by the glamor and the fun music, but she also remembers the lack of diversity and having a desire to change that. After graduating college, she decided she wanted to move to NYC, so she made a deal with her parents and herself that she would get a job there and find a way to make her dreams come to life.
What has it been like to start Bedi and what is the process like behind the scenes?
She remembers that on January 12th of 2022 at 9:53am, Bedi officially became an LLC. She spent a lot of time in India and Morocco to find fabrics, inspiration, and get her samples made. However, with Bedi being so new and the design process taking so long, she had to make a quick turn around for SANYFW after receiving her samples just ten days before the show. Additionally, while Alice typically says that she is a one-woman team, in truth, she says that she has to give a lot of credit to her parents who are her biggest supporters, and her extended family in India.
In terms of her design process, Alice has found that she rarely has to draw or sketch to form her ideas. Instead, her designs naturally take form in her head, and she uses that vision to create a quick illustration that she can then bring to life. Currently, all Bedi garments are made to order and garments must be pre-ordered. However, in the future, Alice is looking to do pop-ups and have garments stocked and readily available for purchase and try-on. She wants people to be able to touch and feel the pieces and experience their stories first-hand because all of her designs have a personal connection to Alice. Alice herself has traveled and spent extensive amounts of time seeking out the best and most authentic materials.
Do you have any financial-related advice for anyone who is just starting out, and how have you dealt with any financial dilemmas you may have run into?
Alice worked for a corporation for a few years before starting Bedi, so she saved a lot from that time in her life. After starting Bedi, she has realized that you always need to double or triple your estimated expenses because even if you think you know exactly what to expect, things come up and expenses add up. Looking into grants and business loans can help you in the long run because the financial roadblocks never stop, so you always have to keep your eyes open.
Especially when you are a small business or entrepreneur in general, there is no guaranteed customer base or money flow so you have to be ready for anything. Alice herself said that she is at the point where she needs to look into grants, loans, donations, etc. The money she had saved is quickly being spent so she needs to find other sources of money flow to support herself and Bedi.
Can you share about your origins and how they have influenced your designs, your style, and your brand as a whole?
Alice was born in India but moved to California at a very young age, so her influences were similar to most immigrant families who come from a distinct culture. She said that her closet was always split between her western-style school clothes and her traditional Indian clothes that she saved for Diwali, festivals, the temple, and other cultural events. She remembers being the only Indian girl in an all white school, so all she wanted to do was blend in and assimilate to what she was surrounded by.
Only later in life did she start to grow out of this desire to blend in, and found her own voice to wear what she wants and express her culture with pride. She found that it was empowering and healing for her to wear cultural attire because she isn’t made fun of anymore or questioned by others. This speaks to her brand, Bedi, as well where she strives to create pieces that bridge the gap between the western and traditional sides of her closet. She constantly takes ideas from both sides, like creating a pleated skirt that could resemble a sari, but is easy enough to just slip on to wear on a daily basis.
What has your experience been like as a South Asian designer in the American fashion industry?
Alice explained that while she may be the only South Asian in the room, she isn’t the only person of color in the room. While their cultures may be different, they still share a love for fashion so they are easily able to learn from each other and bounce ideas off of each other. She said that it would be nice to see more South Asian people, but at this moment, she doesn’t feel lonely because at least she isn’t the only person of color. Alice also added that she has a lot of pride in her identity and her culture, but she doesn’t label her collections. She doesn’t want to be boxed in and be limited by label because her work can be worn for any occasion which allows it to exist outside of a specific category. She says that her designs are considered Indo-Western but they are so contemporary that they can fit into anyone’s wardrobe which means they don’t have to be categorized under just one label.
What has been the most rewarding part of your experiences so far?
Alice found this question to be the most emotional to answer, but she said that the most rewarding part of her work is creating a legacy for her family. She has found that through her work, she has empowered her family and helped them heal as her grandfather passed away very suddenly.
Fashion is her medium of art so she wanted to use that to express herself, her culture, and give back to her family. She wanted to create a legacy for her grandparents who raised four daughters and who knew that their family name would not be carried on. With that in mind, she chose the name of her brand, Bedi, as a tribute to her grandfather and his memory.