Founded by Namrata Dudaney, Ahikoza is an exotic skins brand focused on women’s luxury accessories priding itself on design and quality. The label is inspired by her global travels, cultural heritage, and adoration for handbags and exotic skins alike. In November 2017, she became the first Indo/Indian designer to create a bag with a Victoria’s Secret model. The name ‘Ahikoza’ comes from the Sanskrit words Ahi and Koza. It means the cast of snake skin. With Namrata’s Indian roots, she wanted a name that uniquely captured the core of the brand. With so many different choices available in the luxury accessories market, streamlined her collection by exclusively focusing on exotic skins. “I’ve always had a passion for design. It’s something that came very naturally – as a second nature – to me,” says the designer. As far as launching her own line, the competitive nature of the luxury market presented challenges that heightened her awareness and strengthened her footing in the industry. “Dealing with stylists as a new brand… legalities of business, responding to collectors’ requirements… to name a few (challenges). God is in the details.” Indeed, as each bag is intricately crafted to the millimeter with precision stitching, which the designer oversees. Each bag is unique, created for active luxury lifestyles, designed for both aesthetic and function. “I want women to feel empowered, like they’re carrying a piece of art. My designs are an extension of my art and craft, so I hope that resonates with the customer. Customizations are one of my favorite aspects of the business, I love interacting with my clients, and bringing both our design visions to life.” Her favorite handbag is her own Madison Minaudière. “It’s my signature piece, and till this date, the best-selling. Every season we revamp it with different treatments, skins, and bespoke value additions for our clientele,” she says. She communicates with her customers mainly through social media channels, which provides a platform without press filters. Victoria’s Secret model Barbara Fialho co-designed the Rachel and Barbara Fold-over, which is cutting-edge yet highly practical in function. This is the first collaboration known between an Indo/Indian designer and a VS model. “The bag is even more special due to the empowering women behind the design,” Namrata says. Lessons learned: Following my gut and experience, something I’m honoring more now. You never stop learning. To be humble as dust. Most important not to develop an ego, and get caught up in the game. Your clients make your brand. Listen to them. Always try to elevate your product. God is in the details. Her mentors: To name a few: Giambatista Valli, Bottega Venetta, Eddie Parker and Missoni. I have a love for color and geometry. Her advice: Learn, read and get out there! Take advantage of every internship, and get to know the aspects of the business from a grass roots level. Buy her bags: in Bali, Singapore and Cape Town.