Journey of Ruby Bhandari - Silk Thread

Rasshmi Kansupada Mar 01, 2019 407 Views   0 Comments
Silk Threads, Inc. began 28 years ago as the answer to an unmet need among second- generation Indians in America who were growing up without access to the designs of their homeland. Ruby Bhandari (voted as D Magazine’s 10 Most Beautiful Women in Dallas in 2013), founded this Company out of her personal desire (and need) for fashionable ethnic wear that not only reflected her Indian heritage, but also spoke about her Western sensibilities.

In 1989, as Ruby prepared to go to The University of Texas at Austin, her father asked what she planned to do for a living. She initially said social work. However her father had other plans; he said she could study engineering, law, pre-med or business. They compromised on a degree in finance and accounting.

“I’ve always wanted to help other people,” Ruby says, “and I’ve always had a passion for fashion.”

Her love of fashion took root early and never let go. She began cutting and stitching fabric as a teenager, and in college, she enjoyed designing so much that she couldn't wait to graduate from the UTA to start a business. Silk Threads was born while she was a sophomore at UTA in 1991.Ruby met her husband, Raj Bhandari, when she was a  freshman. At that time, there were very few Indian clothing companies in the U.S., so when they travelled to India to meet Raj’s family, Ruby designed some clothes of her own. She assembled them with the available materials that her future mother-in-law had showed her in a tour of New Delhi, brought the finished garments back home to the States and began selling them. She would operate her business out of the trunk of her white Lexus Sports Coupe, all while finishing school. It looked so much prettier in presentation, and everyone would think that she was really doing well for herself being in the business for barely two years. Her trunk would be empty at the end of every week. Later, however, when sales dwindled, she realized she needed new customers. So she went to a tiny local Indian grocery store with a rack of clothing. She was very disheartened and dejected as she had all her clothes smelling of Indian masalas and she managed to sell only three outfits in the first week. Raj, her knight in shining armour, motivated her and accompanied her the next week wherein they sold five outfits. Sales slowly grew and finally they exploded.

On one of the couple’s later visits to India, Ruby started working with her sister-in-law to open a fabric company and manufacturing units in India. They knew there would be a lot of trade involved, however, they underestimated the amount of effort they needed to do. Every garment imported to the U.S. needed a label classifying the material and where it was from. In 1991, when Ruby sent her first shipment of clothing back to the U.S. It was halted at customs in DFW as none of her 240 garments had the required tags. She was devastated as her stuff was going to be stuck at the airport for 10 days and paying a storage fees of $50 per day meant a humongous amount of expense. A sympathetic customs officer gave Ruby the idea to buy her own labels and write on them with a permanent parker. It is truly said that God helps in various ways, her wonderful friend Gauri helped her and in 25-degree temperature [inside the warehouse]!, with their gloves on and their needles and markers in hand, they hand-wrote 240 tags: “100% silk, Made in India, Dry Clean only”. They would take off their gloves, stitch a few tags, wear the gloves back on so they could feel their fingers again and then stitch some more. She fondly remembers these teething hardships which helped her emerge a winner in any situation.

Over the years, with a lot of struggle and with the courage to continually step into new and challenging areas, Bhandari moved the business from her Irving home to a nearby apartment and then to a studio in Dallas. Her showrooms are awash in color and sparkles. Now, almost three decades later, Silk Threads has full dress, tunic and bridal lines (all of which have their tags!) and serves a wide variety of clients across the country. Ruby does not just want to create garments – she is obsessed on taking the timeless elements of Indian culture – the vibrant colors, the opulent weaves, the regal fabrics, the graceful motifs and the exquisite styles of embroideries – and bring them to a wider audience. Decades before Hollywood discovered Indian artisanal weaves and embellishments, Ruby had started innovating, using a mix of traditional and modern design elements to bring to her clients one of a kind pieces – each of which could tell a different story. She travels extensively throughout the year, and her products can be found in various stores. They even have a show room at the Dallas World Trade Center. The Silk Threads brand includes custom dresses, exclusive ethnic wear, Bridal trousseaus, and Men’s custom wear, all complemented with elegant accessories, with three primary lines:

Silk Threads by Ruby Bhandari, dealing primarily with bespoke ethnic wear – Salwar Kameez, designer Sarees (or saris), bridal Lehenga Cholis, as well as formal ethnic menswear. Silk Threads is recognized as one of the leading designers of ethnic Bridalwear in the country – helping brides nationwide bring their trousseau dreams to fruition.

Ruby B Collections provides high-end tunics and custom dresses, including mainstream Bridal trousseaus. The tunic line is available at over 400 high-end boutiques around the world.

Silk Threads Menswear by Ruby Bhandari is the fusion menswear line, providing custom ethnic Sherwanis to fusion Partywear to discerning gentlemen around the globe. "Color makes me happy," says Ruby, "My clothes are very vibrant and what mainstream America would like to wear."

Ruby’s work has received glowing reviews in ethnic as well as mainstream press, including CBS, ABC, FOX, Women’s Wear Daily, Home Decor, Dallas Morning News, D Magazine, India Today, etc. She is also a frequent guest on radio and TV shows, giving her input on current fashion trends and celebrity dressing and helps produce major Fashion Shows. Ruby’s designs are worn and appreciated by several Bollywood celebrities as well.

She believes in the importance of “designing your own life” despite what those around you might say. This required Ruby to have a positive mindset when she was facing her biggest challenges. This entrepreneurial mindset not only helped Ruby succeed in her own business, it has also inspired her to give back through several charities—just like she had always wanted. Along with creating, the Bhandaris believe in giving back to the community. They host an annual fashion show to benefit a local charity.In 2017, they were able to set up a UT Dallas scholarship for the arts to support enterprising young artists from the proceeds of their Annual Gala. In September 2018, they raised funds to benefit Mosaic Family Services, a nonprofit that helps victims of human rights abuse. They have also worked with local and national charities like Children’s Advocacy of Collin County, American Cancer Society and Indo-American Cancer Association. “If you have passion for something, you can probably go for it. But having the correct knowledge, the correct management and a plan are so important,” Ruby says. “There’s so much unhappiness out there. The way to create happiness is to follow your passion.”

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