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Successful Women Who Work With Their Sisters

Working with your sibling can be amazing—and annoying. Three successful business partners reveal what it takes to work well together.

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    Sasha Grewal and Kaabia Grewal, Accessory Designers

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    Gauri Karan and Nainika Karan, Fashion Designers

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    Eina Ahluwalia, Jewellery Designer, and Atikaa Ahluwalia, Brand Marketing Head

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  • If you're a lover of bold, unbashedly statement jewellery, you must know about Outhouse. Spearheaded by Sasha and Kaabia, the first cousins have always shared a common love for jewellery. "Our biggest advantage is that we're the same age and have been best friends for years," says Kaabia. "This made it so much easier for us to understand each other."

    But that was the easy part, Kaabia agrees—it isn't a cakewalk to work with a sibling and they do have conflicts. "We tend to take each other for granted and sometimes override each others' decisions," she confesses. While Sasha admits to letting their personal and professional lives overlap. "It's inevitable since we're so close, but we agreed early on that we need to behave like professionals so work doesn't suffer."

    So how do they make it work? For one, they share the same passion and vision for the brand. "We do have creative differences, but that only pushes us to think of out-of-the-box solutions," says Kaabia.

    Having clearly defined roles also helps. "I take care of production while Kaabia is in charge of hiring and managing the team," shares Sasha. "But in terms of design, we brainstorm together."

    The sisters like celebrating each victory, big and small, to stay motivated. "It's our way of congratulating each other on a job well done!" says Kaabia.

    On Kaabia (left): vest, BCBG, Rs. 22,500; pants, DSquared at The Collective, Rs. 52,000; T-strap sandals, Steve Madden, Rs. 7,990; top, Zara, Rs. 2,499; ring, Rs. 7,950, and necklace, Rs. 12,500, both Outhouse

    On Sasha (right): crop top, Forever 21, Rs. 899; suit, Huemn, Rs. 38,500; earrings, Outhouse, Rs. 13,500; pumps, Christian Louboutin, price on request

  • "We're practically twins," Gauri tells Cosmo (the sisters were born a year apart) "and I can't remember a single fight...in my entire life!" "Sometimes our opinions differ, but we've never fought over it," adds Nainika.

    The fact that the designer duo is so close works well at work. "Gauri and I discuss every detail of our lives. Now that I'm married, as soon as we meet at work, we catch up on stuff."

    At work, Nainika looks into production, while Gauri is the planner. "We kind of end up doing everything together, but those are our natural strengths. Gauri is more organised, while I execute well," says Nainika.

    "I start the creative process and Nainika takes it forward. We balance each other out," adds Gauri.

    Any tips for other sisters looking to work together? Nainika has some advice: "Don't do it unless you believe in the same thing. Gauri and I are lucky that we both love what we do."

    "I feel like with sisters the bond is different. With us, things like money don't come in the picture. That's probably why we have such a cool working relationship."

    The siblings "work hard when they have to", but otherwise like to take it easy. "We are creative so we don't have to sit in one spot...creativity strikes us anywhere. We like to enjoy life. That's probably one of the reasons we work well together, because we let things happen and don't stress too much," says Gauri.

    On Nainika (left): midi dress, Gauri & Nainika, price on request; sandals, Christian Louboutin, Rs. 44,000; cuff, Maithili Kabre, Rs. 5,000

    On Gauri (right): pencil dress, Gauri & Nainika, Rs. 42,750; lace-up snadals, Christian Louboutin, Rs. 73,000

  • For Eina and Atikaa, working together is a great way to "combine their strengths to create a complete brand experience". Bonus: working with your sister comes with the assurance that you're both equally invested in the brand. "We bring all of ourselves—our ideologies, philosophies, and identities to work," says Eina. "And even though we may have different personalities, fundamentally, Atikaa and I are the same." [PS: Atikaa loves that she can tell her sister that she "just doesn't feel like working on some days".]

    The trick to the perfect balance between professional and personal? Being mature, says Eina.

    In their case, they have clearly defined roles. "Eina spearheads design and production, while I manage marketing, press, and business development," says Atikaa. "I believe that an artist's inspiration and process of creation must not be interfered with. So I don't get into that, except for minor suggestions."

    Like in every relation, fights happen, but for Eina and Atikaa, sisterhood trumps everything (they give each other time and space until they both calm down and figure things out).

    To other future sister duos, Eina says this: "Use the unique combination of your strengths to fuel your brand to new heights. Also, the shared sense of ownership of a project or brand owned by siblings can never be filled in by an outsider so use that to your advantage."

    On Eina (left): dress, Rara Avis at Second Floor Studio, Rs. 10,010; sneakers, Christian Dior, price on request; brooches, Rs. 2,800 and Rs. 3,800, and ring, Rs. 7,500, all Eina Ahluwalia

    On Atikaa (right): blazer, Nikhil Thampi, Rs. 30,000; jeans, Forever 21, Rs. 1,669; shirt, Lovebirds, Rs. 9,800; mules, Salvatore Ferragamo, Rs. 84,000; ring, Rs. 8,800, earrings, Rs. 6,800, both Eina Ahluwalia



    Photographs: Mehtab Mann; Styling: Zunaili Malik; Text: Meghna Sharma