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Dressing up, Bohri style

Operating from opposite ends of Bhendi Bazaar, La-bella and Burhani Creations tell Lamya Karachiwala all about the business of dressing up Bohris, not just in Mumbai but across the globe

La-bella Designer Studio
If there were prizes for making ridas look cool, Tasneem Hussain (53) would walk away with most of the awards. She, along with her husband, Muslim Hussain (54), started the La-bella Designer Studio three years ago, after operating out of her home for almost seven years prior to that. Being an Arts graduate, she always had an aptitude and interest in designing, so there wasn’t much hesitation in pursuing this profession.“There’s always a demand for ridas,” she says.

Co designers, Batul Rajkotwala (left) and Tasneem Petiwala (right). pics/Tushar Satam
Co designers, Batul Rajkotwala (left) and Tasneem Petiwala (right). pics/Tushar Satam

Although she started with creating generic designs, today La-bella is known for its exclusivity. One will not find two identical pieces in the shop since the Hussains do not believe in mass production. Therefore, Mrs Hussain and her team of two designers, Tasneem Petiwala and Batul Rajkotwala, take a lot of effort to create unique and up-to-date designs. They were the first ones to try and integrate various Indian state cultures, like Rajasthani and Gujarati into their ridas. The pearl-cut design is their brainchild too. Once the designing is done, the execution is carried out at their workshop in Husaini Lakda Bazaar. A lot of the raw material is imported from Bangkok and China.

Owners of La-bella, Muslim Hussain (left) and Tasneem Hussain (right)
Owners of La-bella, Muslim Hussain (left) and Tasneem Hussain (right)

She feels the preferences of rida styles differ on the basis of age, occasion, background and location of the clients — youngsters prefer simple and trendy work as opposed to the older generation, international clients opt for pieces that can be worn all year round. “Most of our clientele is international. Our ridas are popular in Bali, UK, USA, Réunion Island, Madagascar, Dar es Salaam and Mombasa,” beams Mr Hussain who contributes as the business head of the shop. “And all this is only via word-of-mouth,” Mrs Hussain adds.

La-bella’s brainchild, the pearl-cut design priced at Rs 7,500
La-bella’s brainchild, the pearl-cut design priced at Rs 7,500

Timings: 10.30 am to 8.30 pm  (closed on Sunday)
At: Shop no 2, Agha building, 17 Dharamsi Street, Bhendi Bazaar.
Call: 23473661
Cost: Rs 2,500 onwards

Burhani Creations
At the other end of the hub of ridas, Bhendi Bazaar, is Burhani Creations — Lulua Kachwala (45) and Tasneem Jasdanwala’s (43) rida boutique run from their respective homes. It was started eight years ago when these two neighbours married Kachwala’s expertise in crochet with Jasdanwala’s skill of cutting (in ridas, the cutting of the material is most important) and sewing ridas.

Owners of Burhani Creations, Tasneem Jasdanwala (left) and Lulua Kachwala (right).
Owners of Burhani Creations, Tasneem Jasdanwala (left) and Lulua Kachwala (right).

Though, now they have expanded to various rida styles — panel work, lace work, painting they started with crochet ridas, which were unprecedented at that time. After the initial designing by the duo, Kachwala crochets the laces and other elements (flowers, leaves, etc) followed by Jasdanwala’s stitching and finishing work. All crochet designs can be made with permutations and combinations of five stitches — Chain Stitch, Slip Stitch, Single Crochet Stitch, Half Double Crochet and the Double Crochet Stitch.

Some of the raw material that goes into creating the ridas, (clockwise from top) crochet laces and other design elements like flowers, circles, squares crocheted by Kachwala, needles and cotton, silk and neemjari threads. pics/Datta Kumbhar
Some of the raw material that goes into creating the ridas, (clockwise from top) crochet laces and other design elements like flowers, circles, squares crocheted by Kachwala, needles and cotton, silk and neemjari threads. Pics/Datta Kumbhar

The crochet ridas are the most popular buys of Burhani Creations. “We work only on made to-order basis. We avoid keeping extra stock since that would mean investing a lot of money and there is always a risk of them not getting sold,” reasons Jasdanwala. Although they end up taking nearly a month to complete one rida, they feel if they devote more time to this, they can accomplish much more. “We still treat it like a hobby,” says Kachwala.

Unlike, La-bella, these ladies operate on a more intimate level; catering to clients from the city and supplying to local boutiques, with a few exceptions when they sold to buyers in Pune and Nashik and internationally as well. “We are looking at more avenues to expand and hope to open a shop as well in the near future,” Kachwala concludes before getting back to her set of orders.

Call: 9930527522/ 9833458752
Cost: Rs 3,000 onwards

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