Fashion Born Out Of Necessity

By Deepthi Nair
Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Fashion entrepreneur Nova Krishnan believes it is her design ethic — to treat each dress/design as a piece of art — that sets her apart from her peers in the UAE.


The lack of Indian customized designers was one of the reasons that prompted Nova Krishnan to launch her eponymous bespoke haute couture label in Dubai eight years ago.

And as they say, there’s been no looking back since.

“Although Dubai has been a fashion hub for many international designers, I saw a huge gap in Indian customized designers here. There seemed to be plenty of tailoring units and multi-designer stores, both of which failed to provide the much-needed guidance of a designer who could help each individual select the fabric that suits their body type and skin tone. I started Nova Krishnan with the sole intention to fill this gap and to stand by the client through the entire design journey while creating a dress,” recalls Nova, who was a former model.

Being deeply involved in the Dubai fashion scene from an early age and growing up in a family of interior decorators made Nova have a natural affinity for colors, arts, and design.

Therefore, she studied interior design and completed her bachelor’s degree from the American University in Dubai.

After college, she was on the lookout for a job in interior design in 2009. However, the global financial recession made it tough for the fresh graduate to land a job.

“Sitting idle was not in my nature, so I decided to start my own business. But, the biggest question remained in what sector? It was my father who suggested I consider doing something in fashion. And I decided to marry my love for colors and design with my passion for fashion and fabrics,” describes the entrepreneur.

With banks in the UAE having limited appetite to fund startups, Nova’s father lent her the first capital to start the business. “He stood by me until I was able to self-sustain. He has been my mentor from the beginning,” she continues.

Nova believes it is her design ethic — to treat each dress/design as a piece of art — that sets her apart from her peers in the UAE.

“My business model entails a lean team. I don’t gauge the success of my business by the size of my team but rather by the fact that my team has stayed with me since I started my business eight years ago,” she reckons.

She looks up to Galia Lahav, an international bridal designer, as an inspiration. “What’s so inspiring about her work and business model is that she started off her design empire with customized couture and has maintained it until now, creating one-of-a-kind dresses for each client. Making it big as a designer by not going mass is a difficult strategy to maintain as a business.”

Nova says it is easier to build a business in the UAE than in other countries. “Being multicultural, Dubai is a melting pot of networkers. Your ideas are always welcomed with open arms. Well, that can also become a challenge as you will be dealing with many people from different countries and backgrounds. The challenge is to be aware of different cultural sensitivities,” she divulges.

Nova doesn’t aspire to expand her business into different fields at the moment and is content in gradual, organic growth. She promotes her business mostly through word of mouth only. Being a mother of two, she also prioritizes time equally between her family and work.

“I am able to achieve this balance with my current work strategy. I put my heart into everything that I do. Quality and craftsmanship are key to my label. Growing and learning within this sector is what I aspire to do,” says Nova.

She advises entrepreneurs to be passionate and driven and not treat their business as a job. “Creating your own identity is the most important thing in any business. Nobody knows your business the way you do — molding it and giving it an identity is important,” she adds.

Determination, hard work and drive have helped Nova grow personally. “One of my missions in life is to grow and learn at every stage. I am very much a work in progress, learning from my work, experiences and failures in life.

There is a proverb: ‘Virtue may fail, but not efforts’. Hard work is the key to my journey. Also, a great support system from my husband and family is what keeps me going.”

Nova admits technology — social media and other portals — are a game-changer in promoting the business. “We are able to reach a global audience through various social media platforms. My followers around the world are able to view my collections the second it goes online. They also comment on the designs, which helps me recognise current demand and grow as a designer,” she observes.

Nova enjoys reading autobiographies of people and their real-life struggles. “My collections are usually based on these real-life characters from books I read.
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My latest collection Mirza — A rebel princess has been remotely inspired by the author and activist Tehmina Durrani and her book My feudal lord,” she concludes. —

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