Pair’s Web site lets women design own dresses


Numari, Custom Fit. (Vikramjit Singh/Vikramjit Singh)

Cherry trees aren’t the only things getting ready to blossom around Washington this spring.

Arti Anand, 30, and Komal Kushal Raj, 33, cooked up a new women’s fashion Web site that could launch as early as this week.

Numari, funded with $75,000 from the two MBAs, allows professional women to customize the size and design of their own dresses, including sleeves and length. The dress prices range between $160 and $285.

Numari is a fusing of “nuovo,” which in Italian means new, and “almari,” which in Hindi means closet.

The two entrepreneurs, who were introduced by their husbands, have not taken salary for the past year while they did their due diligence, which included trips across Asia to find manufacturers for their dresses.

Anand grew up in Montgomery County, went to Gaithersburg High School and earned a bachelor’s in finance and an MBA from the University of Maryland. She worked for Deloitte Consulting and Ratner Cos. before quitting to start Numari.

Raj was educated in India until receiving her MBA from George Washington University in 2011. She worked for Acumen Solutions before starting Numari.

“As young professionals working in consulting roles, we experienced firsthand the challenge of finding great-fitting apparel at accessible prices. We saw how brands such as Gilt, Rent the Runway, and Warby Parker were leveraging technology to change the fashion world,” Anand said.

She called Numari “the perfect intersection” of product, price and convenience.

The business partners cooked up the idea over caffeine-fueled strategy sessions at the Le Pain Quotidien shop on Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda.

“I have a cafe mocha with skim milk and Komal gets a pot of regular coffee with cream and no sugar,” Anand said.

This business is for the dogs

The business gene runs in the Gutierrez family.

Sister and brother Erika and Carlos Gutierrez Jr., whose father Carlos Gutierrez ran the Kellogg Co. and the Commerce Department, have started a social media platform called Pupthat, which lets dog owners share photos — or ideas, stories, lifestyle hints — of their dogs.

Carlos, 33, is an attorney at Clark Hill. Erika, 30, runs her own public relations firm, called EpgPR.

Pupthat, which debuted last week and is a play on “post that,” began with a dog discussion between the siblings several years ago. They picked up the pace about a year ago, and have jointly sunk about $25,000 into the project.

Erika said the app-based Pupthat is a labor of love, but she is sniffing for business opportunities.

“As our user base grows, we will be an attractive forum for business owners in the dog industry to advertise and showcase their products,” she said.

Erika put her own dog, Ricky, on the Web site debut. Ricky, a six-year-old miniature pinscher, “likes eating pizza and is looking for a girlfriend,” according to his profile.

The Buzz hears:

Paul Cohn, formerly a top executive with Capital Restaurant Concepts (J. Paul’s, Paolo’s, Georgia Brown’s, Neyla) has the entrepreneurial bug, and is opening his own place. It will be called Boss Shepherd’s and is to be located in the Warner Theater building at 13th and E streets, NW. The restaurant plans to serve classic American food and should be open by the time warm weather hits (which could be July, the way 2014 is going). He is moving into the former location of John Harvard’s Brewhouse. So who was Boss Shepherd? He was the first territorial governor of the District. Stay tuned on who the chef will be.

Eric Lindner the author of “Hospice Voices: Lessons for Living at the End of Life,” is making the rounds of panels. Lindner spoke as a featured author at the 20th Virginia Festival of the Book on March 21st. He also gave a reading at Alexandria’s Beatley Central Library on March 25th. The book was listed by Booklist editor Rebecca Vnuk as one of her “Top 5 new memoirs.” Lindner’s family helped build Colonial Parking and has had a big influence on the District’s development over the past half century.

It looks like train travelers have no taste for sushi. Yo Sushi, known for its conveyor-style service, closed its doors at Union Station after less than two years. The London-based restaurant chain had plans for several Washington locations, including Chinatown and Georgetown. The Union Station location was owned by Capital Q restaurants.

Factoid of the Week

22,500That’s the number of women-owned firms in the District, according to the American Express Open State of the Women-Owned Businesses Report. The firms employ 31,200 and earn around $5 billion total, the report found.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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