We had the good fortune of connecting with Sonal Patel-Cochran and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sonal, how do you think about risk?
I always remind myself that if everything I do is successful, then I’m not taking enough risks. Some of my biggest wins have come from trying things that I was completely unsure about. When it comes to starting something new or out of my comfort zone, I push myself by not having a back up plan. It gives me that extra amount of creativity and hustle to get things figured out.
I initially made the mistake of trying to wait for the perfect timing to launch my brand. Looking back, I would tell myself to take the risk and jump right in. I thought I needed to have all my ducks in a row before making things official, and I think I really missed out on valuable time I could have spent learning. So many things changed between what I had planned for and how I actually ended up running things in the moment.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Vibrant colors and mixed patterns are my happy place. I started Tribe as a side gig to my design business in hopes to support the work of artisans I connected with while traveling. When tourism paused for most of 2020, I began designing product directly with my partners to create employment opportunities while their markets were closed. Thankfully, the response to our collection has been amazing, and we decided to keep it going and growing.
I draw a huge amount of inspiration from my Indian American roots. Whether it’s choosing pieces from the past to layer into a modern setting, or creating new designs that keep traditional artisan processes alive, I am always hoping to give my customers colorful ways to honor global traditions and love their culture.
Before Tribe, I spent numerous years as a clothing buyer and stylist. That path was definitely filled with movement. I worked in several different fields including marketing, PR, product development and design, but continuing to search for the right fit, plus getting laid off two different times was a huge catalyst in getting me to where I am now. If I had stayed in the same field over all those years, I would never have picked up all the different skill sets that I use now while running my own brand.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Favorite starts to a day around Atlanta are an oatmilk chai from Spiller Park or treats from Sublime Donuts.
I like quieter weekdays on the Beltline and eating/drinking my way through the neighborhoods. I love lunching at Ponce City Market while I’m checking on my pop-up and always order the tandoori veggie wrap at Bottiwalla and coconut gelato from Honeysuckle. Wandering around The Victorian to find cool new plant babies is a must. My kids love Krog Street Market for Gu’s dumplings and goodies from Little Tart Bakeshop.
I definitely recommend getting outside and exploring some of the pockets of nature around town. Hike around any of the beautiful Chattahoochee trails, then dress up for dinner at Umi or Boca Lupo.
Saturday afternoons are for picking up a pile of delicious food from Asha Gomez’s pop-up lunch spot at Third Space and heading to a local park for a picnic.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
A huge thanks to my husband and kids for helping me deal with the ups and downs of being a small business owner. They have a special cheer for every sale, and do everything from helping pack boxes to hauling vintage furniture finds around while road-tripping. I also wouldn’t have had the confidence to step out on my own if it hadn’t been for my best friend and fellow creative, Whitney of Grace Graffiti. I helped launch the wholesale side of her brand and watched a lot of things happen from the ground up. Her drive and confidence to bring her dream to life really inspired me and showed me the true amount of work that goes into having your own business.
Paprika Southern Brooke Roberts