Made by Mom Gift Guide: With fashion line, local designer works to support women and others
Posted December 12, 2019 7:39 p.m. EST
Zankhna Parekh is a physical therapist turned fashion designer, working hard to make successful women feel not only fashionable, but also comfortable.
Parekh still works part-time as a physical therapist, but creating fashion has been a life-long endeavor. "I have been stitching and designing since sixth grade since that was a life skill for girls in Nairobi, Kenya where I spent the first 17 years of my life," she tells me.
Parekh, who now lives in Durhan, launched Zankhna Designs in 2013, and she's found plenty of success. Her latest collection, the Zaftan, features a modern twist on the traditional kaftan that's made of pure silks and includes hand-done embroideries.
Parekh, a mom of three, and her Zankhna Designs is a featured business in Go Ask Mom's annual Made by Mom Gift Guide. Find out more about the business in my Q&A with Parekh below. And stay tuned for more Q&As of the mom-owned businesses featured in the 2019 guide!
Go Ask Mom: What's the back story behind Zankhna Designs? How did it get its start?
Zankhna Parekh: I felt there was need in the luxury space for clothing for strong, trailblazing, high-achieving women who were putting cracks in the glass ceiling but still wanted to be effortlessly stylish. Women whose work and impact commanded unique elegant and classy pieces and no longer fit the mold of disposable fashion. It is the reason I work only with pure and exquisite fabrics, modern silhouettes, one of a kind pieces with hand done embroideries and eye-catching details.
GAM: Your designs have a lot of international flair. Where do you get your inspiration and how would you describe your creations?
ZP: My three geographical backgrounds are my inspiration —Kenya, India and USA. But I travel the world sourcing the most unique and exotic fabrics and embellishments. I am inspired by strong women who are pioneers in their field so when I design pieces, I have them in mind. I work to create versatile and timeless pieces that would make these amazing women look elegant, powerful and classy all while slaying dragons!
GAM: Charity is a big part of your business plan. How have you given back?
ZP: I give back on both fronts - physical therapy and the fashion line.
We highlight women who are real life "models" in our fashion shows. The proceeds and sales from these fashion shows are given back to local individuals and businesses in the community. This past spring-summer show, we gave 100% of proceeds to the Lee family of Durham, since I was so affected by that tragedy. The fall-winter show, we appointed the Hope futbol project as our charity. They give children with physical and mental disabilities and financial need a chance to play soccer, which they would not get otherwise.
With our other non-profit Parekh Family Foundation, we have traveled to third world countries for the past 11 years providing free medical surgeries and rehabilitation to people in need and we teach orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists in these countries so they can carry forward the work after we leave. We have traveled India, Turkey, Chile, Costa Rica, and Kenya doing this work.
GAM: What's been the biggest challenge as a business owner?
ZP: To get support from my local community. I am a big believer in supporting local and have always shopped from and supported local small businesses. I feel it was the toughest to get backing from my local community until they saw some national level success.
GAM: What are your hopes for the future of Zankhna Designs?
ZP: We are already international and boutiques in Canada, New York, India and Jamaica that carry my line. I would like to see Zankhna Designs in many boutiques around the United States. I want to be able to dress as many trailblazing women who are achieving the impossible every day from the smallest feats to the highest achievements. I want to dress women who are amazing in their own rights and make them feel like a million dollars one outfit at a time!
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday — and even more often in November and December as part of the Made by Mom Gift Guide.