After starting her first business in a college apartment in 2009 at just 27 years old, Hana-April Chughtai and her ventures were destined to stand apart from competitors.
"We actually entertained clients in there," Chughtai says of the humble college abode. "That’s really how it started, with zero money, literally posting ads on Craigslist, having no idea how to forge into this market."
Creating Mani Mela while still studying for her MBA felt natural to Chughtai. "That’s just who I am; I was just anxious," she shares. "Trying to grow a business while learning about starting one; there is no better way than going through that in a business school atmosphere."
Now, Chughtai owns two successful Minneapolis-based companies, Mani Mela and SOMOD 22. The first has come a long way from its humble, apartment-based beginning and is now an award-winning company focused on luxury wedding management and design services. SOMOD 22 came from her desire to offer event management services with a branding aspect. The company, which is only a little more than a year old, combines design and event management to create innovatively branded corporate events.
"We are always willing to do whatever it takes to make a client happy," says Chughtai "We want our client to take the credit, and we love when our client gets the gratitude. We are totally happy being a mysterious company that comes in behind the scenes and makes the client look good."
Growing up in Minnetonka, and a graduate of Hamline University in St. Paul, Chughtai feels fortunate that her businesses have been able to grow here at home. "I love being in Minnesota because of my family," she shares. "I hope to be a global brand and that may mean having the headquarters in a different location, but there will always be something here."
For Chughtai, though, success means more than just the growth of her companies. "When you love what you do, it’s not work. I always knew I wanted to own my own business, but I did not know it would be in hospitality," she says. "I just knew that I wanted to make my own path and lead others to finding their passions. My drive, my fulfillment is in making other people happy. You can’t put a price on that."