Karina's (our Founder's) Journey to Common Assembly

by Karina Shivdasani

I wanted to share something with you all. I often get asked, how did you come up with the idea of kindness in fashion?There is a short answer to this, but I feel compelled to tell you the whole story…my story…

I grew up with a lot of insecurities. I always felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I felt too chubby, not pretty enough, too tall, and I hated my “Bugs Bunny” teeth. I am an Indian-American, and within my culture people have no problem calling out your “flaws” (at least in my experience). I remember when I was younger, before our summer trips to India I made sure I was on a diet. I didn’t want to be called out for my weight or didn’t want to hear "Karina you need to stop growing so tall, you are never going to find a boy to marry". My goal was always to keep as much attention off me as possible!

In my late teens I finally felt like I was climbing in my confidence. I was shedding my baby weight, and finally felt like I had a voice. Silly story- but my greatest challenge/accomplishment at that time was running for Student Council President my junior year. OMG when I had to give my election speech in front of everyone I nearly peed my pants, I was TREMBLING. But I won..little ol’ me…I actually won, people liked me, and they liked what I had to say. I literally remember thinking “Life is good, everything is going great…I could get used to this”. And like a flip of a switch, my world changed overnight, and it left me feeling broken and lost.

What had happened was a complete freak accident…the type of thing you see in the movies. My brother fell off a 3rd floor balcony one night (he was 22, I was 18). His accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. I won’t dive into everything- but use your imagination. It was a surreal experience for me and my family. We went through all the stages of grief, the “Why ME?”, the “How can you God?”, and when we were done fighting and got to a place of acceptance, the healing started.
For us healing was diving into spirituality. Reading books by authors like Dr. Wayne Dyer, Dr. Joe Dispenza, Anita Moorjani and attending their seminars all over the U.S. At first I was not open to this: Your thoughts matter? Positivity? …seemed like this was all just some coping mechanism to escape reality and pretend like everything was ok. But then I actually started to listen. I learned about how important it is to honor yourself, your feelings, and to take care of yourself first. I learned that self care is not selfish. And in practicing that my perspective and my life started to shift. I felt lighter, I allowed myself to come face to face with the pain I was still holding, I had tough conversations to finally open up and tell my family what I was going through (rather than always being strong for them). I finally saw me for me and honored what I needed. That was my magic.
This brings us to today, almost 14  years later. It has been quite a ride, but one that we are grateful for. Our lives changed, but for the better. Out of this “tragedy” was born so much good. Vik, my brother, is a life coach helping other people overcome adversity in their lives. My parents and some family members started a nonprofit organization called Infinite Love, which is serving the South Texas with love, sacred shared space, and community. And me, it has brought me to a place where I can fulfill my passion!
Through these experiences, I have recognized that all the emotions I felt were #realcommon. People everywhere have their version of my story. My heart is in helping women through their journeys and creating a community that highlights and supports everything we have in common. When we feel good, we do good, and for women “feeling good” often translates to how we dress and self-express. When we are kinder to ourselves and honor our authentic selves, we have more capacity to help others. That journey ignited my passion for creating Common Assembly. With the thought to one day create this business, I followed a fashion merchandising career path as an Apparel Buyer for a nationwide corporate retailer. Now, I am ready to share my journey with the world.
Common Assembly was born out of a passion to provide women fashion they could feel good about, one that would fill your closet and your soul. We believe kindness is the thread that connects us all, and we do our part to weave it into everything we do. We’re committed to Kindness for the Common Good.