We spoke to Hetal and Dharmistha about their journey creating an online Marketplace App for users to buy and sell their new or pre-loved clothing and accessories.
What is your ethnic and professional background?
Founders: Hetal Patel and Dharmistha J. Patel are both Hindu (North Indian). Hetal Patel has her BBA in Business Management and currently works in the Hospitality Industry. Dharmistha J.Patel has a BBA with concentration in International Business and Finance.
What is Stylhawk?
Stylhawk is an online Marketplace App for users to come together to buy and sell their brand new or pre-loved clothing and accessories. We want our consumers to feel and look their best without spending a fortune. We know most of our Indian luxury and unique pieces are only worn once or twice and come with a hefty price tag. Stylhawk provides a platform for sellers to recoup the majority of their initial investment and our buyers to be able to purchase those unique pieces at a fraction of the retail cost. This is a win-win situation for both buyers and sellers to think sensibly, sustainably and help protect the environment by keeping clothes in use longer.
At Stylhawk, our business model is restorative and regenerative. We want clothing that is kept at its highest value during use to re-enter the economy after use, never ending up as waste. Stylhawk promotes circular and sustainable fashion, to avoid the harsh impact that the clothing industry has on the environment. We want our consumers to know that by buying smarter, they are in fact helping preserve nature and decrease waste.
What inspired you to act as a catalyst for sustainable practice?
Based on the constraints that our previous generations have faced, we hindered challenges and unknowingly became sustainability advocates. Being resourceful through reusing, rewrapping, and hand-me-downs comes natural to us. I remember growing up in a household that had wrappers on TV remotes, plastic covers on dining tables, and covers on sofas and car seats to preserve the original condition in my home. Growing up in a traditional Indian home being a mom of 3 girls, it only makes sense to live sustainably for their futures. We attend many occasions where traditional clothing is worn and although we love dressing up in new fancy clothes every time, it didn’t make sense financially or environmentally.
Have you faced any backlash?
Not knowing what to do with current clothing and not being able to afford a new one every time was same story heard from friends and family on a daily basis. This became the true motivation for creating this platform. It gives individuals the tools and motivation to do something about it.
This is just the beginning; we have a long road ahead of us. We are thankful to have the support of friends and family on creating this platform but the only way we reach our goal and mission is to have our community join and become a part of this idea of secondhand clothing. Sustainable living is the new trend and as we are seeing a rise in awareness and users on our platform, we appreciate the like-minded people who are also appreciative of the concept of thrifting.
How have you actively changed your family practice to be more sustainable?
From repurposing old clothing, to up-cycling and handing down to younger siblings, to reusable water bottles and snack bags, we are practicing sustainability in different ways in our households. Passing on the same knowledge to our little people is one of the most important things we can do, so that they can become conscious consumers for the future generations. It is a way of life.
Do you feel there is a stigma or lack of understanding of the climate crisis amongst South Asian communities? What do you believe the blockers to be and how would you go about solving the issues?
Yes, people are becoming more aware of climate change issues, but we think the lack of actions are mainly due to them just not knowing what they can do and what type of resources are available.
If they do not know where to start, hopefully a platform like ours, where it will be beneficial for themselves as well as the environment, will be able to grant them an entry way into a more sustainable lifestyle.
Do you find such lack of understanding makes having a sustainability led business like yours more challenging?
Breaking the stigma of thrifting has definitely been a barrier. We are evolving as individuals and the importance of sustainability plays a more integral part in our way of life. Stylhawk solely relies on like minded buyers and sellers that are pro-sustainability. This also makes fashion affordable for all.
In your opinion, what’s the future of South Asian fashion?
Fashion should be affordable, comfortable and versatile. We are so fortunate that South Asian fashion has such intricate detailed work, with all types of fabrics that make our fashion so unique and desirable by all. The craftsmanship and work put forth by garment workers deserves more. Pairing a choli blouse/crop top with an old sari or dhoti pants, or adding a trendy blazer and piece of jewelry to an existing outfit to revamp the entire look, that’s the future of fashion.
When you allow yourself to be free of judgment and get creative by up-cycling and mixing and matching different patterns and pieces together, we won’t necessarily need to purchase new every time.
What advice would you give to younger generations in relation to sustainability and the environment?
A key piece of advice we would give is to build self-awareness. Be more aware of your surroundings and the impacts it creates in your environment and what you leave behind. Be practical in your day to day living for a greener tomorrow, that is manageable and realistic and to lead by example.
What have been your greatest success and learnings?
Our greatest success is building the courage to start our Minority-South Asian, Women led business. It’s one thing to dream it but making dreams into reality is another. After many hurdles we were able to launch in January 2021. We are still learning what consumers really want and are excited about what the future holds. Gathering all this feedback and learning throughout the process enables us to build on what we currently have and MAKE IT BETTER! Great things are coming soon for our Stylhawk users and we are excited!
Can you share one life story which has deeply impacted you?
Stylhawk is a partnership between two childhood friends Hetal Patel and Dharmistha Patel. We have been friends since we can remember. In the past few years with Covid-19, we have learned that life is not predictable. We have gone through personal battles and are thankful that we have managed to overcome them. We are both blessed with beautiful, healthy children and we want to create a better tomorrow for ourselves and our future generations.
This is what makes us women so unique, we’re resilient and we evolve over and over again and create our future. We gained a deeper appreciation for the work and the cause we stand for at Stylhawk. Breaking the stigma of thrifting is not an easy task, but we are very confident of what avenue we are providing to our users and always wanted to run a business with a meaningful purpose.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Currently there’s a generation that’s being caught in a whirlwind of fluster either with the trendy consumers wanting the newest styles with brand new outfits to every event and the conscious consumer, who’s trying to figure out the worth – economically and ethically – of something that will be worn only for a few hours. Tackling this one pervasive issue will solve the problem across the board.
You can like us on Facebook, Instagram and follow the latest on www.stylhawk.com. Our app is currently on IOS- App Store but will be available on Android soon. There is no listing fee or monthly maintenance fee for users. Contact us today if you have any further questions and concerns.