Nisha Sheth will feature her own designs at her new Clarksville clothing store, Mumbai Boutique, slated to open in June.
Nisha Sheth will feature her own designs at her new Clarksville clothing store, Mumbai Boutique, slated to open in June. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

In the past, when Nisha Sheth wanted to rock fancy, fashionable garments popular in Indian culture, she would have to take a trip to India and purchase the garments there. She says this is a reality for many Indian women in search of trendy pieces from the south Asian country.

She hopes to address that problem this June when she opens Mumbai Boutique, her clothing shop dedicated to fine clothing with Indian flair.

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“I’ve done America a favor bringing it here,” the 37-year-old says with a laugh.

Sheth, who is originally from London but moved at age 14 to Glenelg, where she’s remained since, wanted to open her boutique in Howard County. Her mother is from Bombay, now known as Mumbai. Her father is from Yemen.

“We’ve always lived in Howard County,” she says. “I opened it here because of the population, the community and the need and my desire to be my own boss.”

Sheth’s 1,250-square-foot boutique — a former art studio in Clarksville that she discovered was up for sale — is scheduled for an early June opening. She modeled the boutique based on the upscale garment shops she saw in India.

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The walls of Sheth’s boutique will be painted a rich maroon color and will be lined with colorful, opulent-looking garments, which Sheth describes as “Indo-Western” — a mix of American and Indian cultures.

She will sell both men’s and women’s garments, including saris, which are floor-length garments worn by women composed of more than 6 feet of fabric that is draped over the left shoulder; sherwani, a two-piece men’s garment usually made of chiffon, silk, cotton or polyester mostly in pastel colors or maroon; and kaftans, a unisex one-piece chiffon garment usually in a print or embroidered.

“These clothes will be for every occasion,” she says, adding that she’ll also carry Indian jewelry.

Sheth says she’ll add bridal and and religious garments this fall.

The boutique can’t open fast enough for Josette Kouncar, who has been encouraging Sheth to open a boutique for a couple of years.

The Highland resident recently wore a baby doll dress that she purchased from Sheth to an Indian wedding. The two became friends a few years ago after meeting at the gym. Kouncar eventually found out about Sheth’s design abilities.

“I loved it,” she says of the taupe and metallic gold dress. “I got so many compliments. To get compliments from Indians that usually wear these clothes means a lot. They said ‘You look majestic’ and ‘You look royal.’ ”

Sheth’s boutique has been a long time coming.

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After working as a special education teacher for two years, she worked in the banking industry for seven years and then she did real estate before quitting two years ago to devote herself to this newest venture.

As a result of switching gears into the fashion retail industry, she’s flown back to India eight times in the past two years setting up a team there.

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Sheth’s team of eight in Mumbai includes a photographer, an illustrator and tailors. All of her garments are made in her Mumbai office. Sheth designs the garments herself and has final approval after each garment is made.

After years of being asked to make Marylanders outfits similar to the ones she made for herself, she decided to take the plunge.

Sheth attributes a good amount of her business chops to her mother, Priti Sheth, who has owned Priti’s Fashion, a combination fashion and fine jewelry boutique in Takoma Park, for the past 25 years.

“I was always in and out of working there,” Sheth recalls. “That’s how I got the experience to open up my own business. I learned from her.”

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