Written by Betsy Abraham, email@example.com Friday, 18 October 2013 00:00
With three thriving sari shops on South Broadway, it’s safe to say that A.J. Singh knows something about running a successful business. The entrepreneur has built a small fashion empire, creating a one-stop shop for anyone attending an Indian wedding.
Similar to American weddings, Indian weddings require lots of shopping for shoes, jewelry, and of course, the dress. The traditional Indian bride wears a red sari and elaborate gold jewelry. The groom often wears a sherwani, a long, embellished coat-like top, or a kurta, a long loose shirt that is often paired with a lightweight, drawstring pants.
But save an 18 hour flight and an expensive plane ticket, Indian wedding wear can be hard to find, so stores like Singh’s—which provide attire for the bride, groom, wedding party and guest—are a gem for those having, or attending a traditional wedding.
“So many people want to have the tradition that’s always been in their family. Ladies want their kids to wear what they wore,” Singh says. “And Indian clothes are so beautiful. Women look so beautiful in these things.”
Singh’s start in business wasn’t in the fashion industry at all, rather he had a successful career manufacturing goods for barbershops when he immigrated to New York from India. In 1995, he joined his brother in opening a wholesale Indian bridal store in Queens. Singh noticed that people would come from Long Island to his shop in Queens so in 1998, he opened Jas Mandir in Hicksville. Selling the latest Indian fashions, the store met great success and in 2010, Singh opened Samaira, followed by Samaira Bridal three months ago, all on South Broadway.
“When we came from India, we were doing very well. When we came to Queens, we wanted something new,” Singh said. “When people loved our stuff, we felt like we were doing good so we kept doing it and expanding. We still love it.”
It’s hard not to imagine yourself dancing around in a Bollywood movie once you step into Samaira Bridal. Colorful, heavily studded red saris hang by one wall and diamonds and gold jewelry sparkle and glitter from glass cases along another. Next door to Samaira Bridal is Samaira, which carries other types of Indian garb such as beautiful salwars and vibrant lehngas which are often worn by wedding guests.
And Singh’s collection is authentic. All the clothes are handmade in India and he gets new pieces in every two weeks. The store also specializes in customizing sarees to a brides’ tastes and desires. Bridal wear at Samaira Bridal starts at $1,500.
“We have a nice collection,” Singh says. “And if you want to customize anything we can do that. I can have it for you in two weeks, that’s our specialty. Name it, and we can get it for you Everything we do is to satisfy the customer.”
And even though South Broadway has its fair share of Indian clothing stores, Singh isn’t worried about competition.
“I don’t have competition with anyone,” Singh says. “I’m doing well, people know me.”
For more information visit samairaboutique.com or call 516-622-5454.