Are there any female figures who you admire and how have they impacted your life?
M: Yes, my sister Stella. Our parents immigrated here from Bangladesh and did not initially support our interest in the arts. They wanted us to pick a more traditional career path, such as becoming a doctor or lawyer. Stella has always encouraged my creativity. Having the opportunity to collaborate with her has influenced who I am today.
S: I believe it’s essential to be intentional with who we give space to. My close female relationships are all figures that I respect and admire deeply. My sister, the women in my family, and my female friends – are powerful and fearless women. These women live their lives with purpose and, in turn, have encouraged me to want to live my life in that same greatness.
What do you feel the fashion industry is doing particularly well right now?
S: Allowing conversations like this one to happen is very important and beautiful to see. To me, fast fashion is when we choose not to be ethical and sustainable. By encouraging others to live their lives with meaning and explore their identities, we are also teaching them to live intentionally, support brands that have true values, and invest in clothing that enhances who they are.
Meeka, how did you find the courage to change career paths and what advice would you give to those who are also thinking of switching careers?
M: It was challenging to balance my full-time job as a marketing director while simultaneously working on my own brand. I knew deep down that I was not giving my all to either and that motivated me to change directions. For the last year and a half, I shifted my energy to work as a full-time content creator, and it's been my best year. My most extensive advice for those considering switching career paths is to be patient and stay consistent with your work. It took me six years to turn my side hustle into a full-time job; success doesn't happen overnight.
Stella, we at A.L.C., stand by fellow female-founded business owners like yourself. Can you share a favorite moment since launching Haati Chai and Amarilo Jewelry?
S: Owning your own business is rewarding in so many ways. I was one of the first South Asian women, with an Asian co-founder, to have started a conversation in the fashion industry, expanding past our respective cultural groups. What we created ten-plus years ago shaped how minorities can openly incorporate their unique backgrounds and heritage into what they do for their line of work. I believe what we do for a career should not have to be separate from how we live our lives. From as far back as I can remember, I have wanted to embrace the duality of my identities unapologetically in every way possible. When I grew up, I got to do exactly that.
As sisters, how do you influence each other in your everyday life?
M: As the younger sister, I copy Stella from time to time. I’m inspired by her minimal style and how she incorporates that into other aspects of her life, such as interior design.
S: We spend so much time together. I am so busy sometimes that I don’t have time to think about the small things. When I decided to dedicate more time to fitness, I asked Meeka to share everything. I asked her where to find the cute workout wear, a good trainer, etc. Meeka tends to reference my style for inspiration. For example, I bought these cute 90s Gucci heels, and she fell in love with them. A week later, she called to ask if I would be okay if she bought a pair. I said yes, of course. This is just us all the time.
Can you share how styling fuels each of your personal expressions?
M: What I wear dictates my mood and how I'm feeling. Dresses make me feel the most confident. My tonal wardrobe makes me feel effortless, and I feel the most like myself when I dress like a tomboy in tailored suits.
S: I believe how we style ourselves is an extension of who we are. Dressing up should never be a headache, but rather a release and a moment of self-gratitude. That boosts my confidence and influences who I am.
Where is the most inspiring place you have each traveled to?
S: Like most individuals, every time I travel, I am inspired. I believe traveling is the best way to connect with others and appreciate our existence as humans in this world. Traveling to my mother country, Bangladesh, was my most emotional trip. Growing up as a first-generation American, I had many experiences where America did not feel like home. Still, my native country, which I had never visited, felt most familiar. The first time I saw it was when I was 14. I remember feeling like I didn’t stand out because many other Bangladeshis looked like me. I was also incredibly in awe of how the women styled and carried themselves. Bangladeshi women mastered effortlessness before most of the western world. On a typical day, while running errands, they would wear beautifully woven textiles – something that stands out for its quality but is understated overall. They would pair it with makeup that felt like a model, paying attention to one area, such as the eyes or just the lips, and making it a point to enhance their features just enough. I remember taking this vision back with me when I returned to America, and it has been a recurring theme in many of my creative work and signature style.
Has there been a significant moment of your past that has impacted where you both are today?
M: Yes! When my college boyfriend broke up with me, I did a 180 with my life. I dropped out of law school and became a personal assistant for a fashion brand, which carved the path for what I do today and who I am.
When do you both feel the most yourself?
M: When I'm dressed off-duty and am wearing minimal to no makeup, and when I have a good meal with my close friends or family. When I'm reading. When I'm traveling. When I'm taking care of my body, both physically and mentally.
S: When I am creating, I am at peace and feel most connected to my purpose.
Where do you both find inspiration across art, fashion & lifestyle?
M: Aside from social media and perusing the internet, I've always drawn inspiration from films. I'm a visual learner, and watching movies is when I feel my creative juices flowing.
S: My travels are my inspiration. I learn about new artists, fashion “trends,” and lifestyles through experiencing them in new places I explore.
What / who influences each of your personal styles?
M: I wouldn't say there's one source of my style inspiration, but I do love Sharon Stone's style in the movie Basic Instinct. It's timeless, and I would easily wear any of her looks from that movie today.
S: I’m forever stuck somewhere in the 70s and the 90s supermodel runway glam. Any silhouettes from those eras are what you will see me revisit again and again in my wardrobe and the way I dress.
How has your cultural background shaped the women you are today?
M: Having parents from a different culture who had to work twice as hard to have the same opportunities as their peers instilled this insane work ethic in me. Being a first-generation American and seeing the sacrifices my parents made to get to America has always made me grateful for every opportunity I'm given. I also feel this responsibility to share my experiences as a South Asian creator to encourage more inclusivity of underrepresented communities in the media.
S: I value my identity profoundly and will always make a point to leave traces of it in everything I do. Growing up, I was constantly reminded that I could be anyone I wanted to be. I can do anything I want to do. This affirmation revisits me daily in so many ways, and I genuinely believe that I would not be where I am today without this outlook. I encourage everyone to see things with this outlook.