It’s the unique blend of Indian and Western aesthetics that stand out in Taran Mullhi’s designs.
The 26-year-old runs her own fashion design company out of her family home in Burnaby. Mahari Collection is a made-to-measure business where clients meet with Mullhi one-on-one to order everything from blazers and trousers to wedding gowns and party dresses.
Originally from England, Mullhi studied fashion design for four years. In 2012, her family moved to Vancouver. After “dabbling around in different jobs,” she started her own company in 2015.
“It’s been really, really fun, and also super challenging, if I’m honest,” she chuckled.
“The funny thing is I never really envisioned that I would be an entrepreneur or a business owner. That wasn’t really one of my life goals, it’s something that I’ve just fallen into, and I just absolutely love it. I think it’s great having the flexibility of working for yourself and just setting yourself goals and really pushing yourself to achieve them.”
Mullhi admits there was a steep learning curve involved in being a one-woman show. In the early days, she was working full-time and growing Mahari Collection on the side. She eventually left her job to focus on her company, but things didn’t get any easier. She made mistakes, she said, but it’s all part of the experience.
“You know, you end up wasting money sometimes by investing in the wrong things, the wrong products, materials, and it was really exhausting, but I think having a good support network around you is so important,” Mullhi said.
With friends and family cheering her on, Mullhi has built her brand. She’s moved from a bed-and-a-laptop setup to a wee nook to an entire room dedicated to her craft. One day she might even open her own store but with the popularity of online shopping, she’s in no rush.
“It’s definitely something that’s on my list, something that I’d love to do, but I do think in the times that we’re in now, online is such a huge thing I’m not sure if having a retail space is something that I necessarily need,” she said.
Using social media, Mahari Collection has flourished, she added. While Mullhi continues to focus on her clients, she’s also started participating in pop-up shopping events throughout the Lower Mainland, most recently in Chinatown. This week, Mullhi was set to make her debut on the Vancouver scene with Mahari Design’s first appearance at Vancouver Fashion Week, after NOW deadlines.
“Things like that are a great way to interact with the clothing and get to see the collections in real life,” she said.
Inspired by her Indian and English heritage, the pieces she creates are made from hand-crafted materials shipped here from India. She doesn’t like to call her outfits “Indian,” instead she describes them as fusion – blending Western and Indian looks to create something new.
“It’s been wonderful having these two cultures that you’re immersed in, but sometimes you can have a little bit of an identity crisis. Sometimes the worlds don’t really come together when you’re growing up. So I made the collection to kind of represent those two aspects of my identity,” she said.