The Story Behind START
As a young girl, I always believed that female-led enterprise would be the future. And so, I dreamed of creating a luxury brand built on my family’s longstanding legacy in the industry. In this dream, I designed creations of awe-inspiring beauty—creations that empowered women to feel confident and beautiful in everything they did. And I was lucky to have a family, and more specifically a father, who believed in those dreams.
In the summer of 2009, my family and I vacationed in Italy with some of our closest family and friends. One night, after too much wine and even more food, I distinctly remember my uncle making a light joke :“Anar is going to have to marry a very rich man in order for her to live the life you have given her, Samir.” My father responded without hesitation: “She will be the rich man.” That’s the kind of support and encouragement I’ve always felt from my father.
I started thinking seriously about BHANSALI as my future in my last year of university. This was the time when TOMS, Warby Parker and many other for-profit companies were prioritizing social impact in their businesses. It inspired me to think about how the luxury industry could do the same.
So, when BHANSALI launched in 2014, we immediately started giving back through support for local non-profits. But, I always felt like there was a better way for BHANSALI to bring good to the world.
I started mentoring inner city high school students in downtown Los Angeles, hoping to find that better way. These were students who felt disempowered by a lack of resources, connections, education and support. And in these students, I quickly discovered a genuine desire to uplift not only themselves, but also their families and communities. Needless to say, I was deeply motivated by their ambitions. Just like me, all these students needed was the support and encouragement to go after their dreams.
And that was the beginning of START.
START’s mission is to allow underserved students to recognize their untapped potential through creative entrepreneurship. In the last two years, we have educated and empowered countless students across the Los Angeles area through the different programs we offer. Just this past semester, a young artist named Alaf created a beautiful book of poetry that sold out at our 2019 START Pop Up Shop. And another one of our STARTers said this about her experience:
“I loved every minute of this process! We all put our literal sweat and tears into this and it came out spectacular. This was all just a start, and it showed us young artists that we really do have a chance to sell art as our living. I am very thankful for this opportunity, and if we ever have another one, I would love to do it again!”
It’s moments like these that energizes START to do even more. That’s why we’re now taking START online, allowing complete access to our curriculum to everyone. While we aim to get back into schools and continue our work in person, we couldn’t be happier to launch this new platform.
We could all use could use more encouragement and guidance in our lives, and we hope that START does just that for our students as well as you. And who knows, maybe this series will help you get STARTED on something you have always dreamed of doing, too!