ALKA MATTOO/ORVANA

Alka Mattoo, fashion designer and owner of Orvana in Princeton, always wanted to start her own design line. With a decade of experience in the fashion industry in London and New York, the mom to Uma, 11, and Noah, 7, knew she had the skills to start a business. In 2010, she opened Orvana where you’ll find handcrafted textiles made into beautiful “slow fashion.”

New Jersey Family: Tell us about your amazing style.

Alka Mattoo: My design style is inspired by the rich heritage from the Kashmir region of India, where my family hails from. Orvana only uses sustainable and responsibly sourced textiles handmade by artisans from India whose families have been doing this work for generations. 

ALKA MATTOO/WITH KIDS UMA AND NOAH

NJF: What has been your biggest accomplishment with your business so far?

AM: I love having a boutique in downtown Princeton because it builds a sense of community, a central value of Orvana. Additionally, the biggest accomplishment for the business has been to be selected as the source for our products in our country’s leading art museums, such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and others. 

NJF: How do you balance your career with being a parent?

AM: It’s never easy to balance career and parenting, both are endless full-time vocations. But it can be done by being organized and by prioritizing. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Hire the right help. 

NJF: What advice would you give to moms looking to start a business?

AM: Most of us would agree that parenting is the hardest and the most rewarding job we’ve ever done, but it’s without any financial remuneration for the time spent. When you start your business, you’re paying an opportunity cost. So, it is important to start giving yourself a salary from the get-go. This helps keep track of your hourly input and output.  

ALKA MATTOO/ORVANA

NJF: What’s your favorite place to go with your family in the Garden State?

AM: Biking and picnicking by the canal during our beautiful fall season, going to the Princeton Library, hanging out at  Palmer Square and the university campus after grabbing an ice cream from the Bent Spoon. Visiting various reserves for hikes and Jersey Shore beaches in the summer.  

NJF: What’s your favorite way to spend me time?

AM: I find that walking by the canal and going bird watching in our many nature preserves is the best way to fill my soul. 

Orvana
14 Nassau Street, Princeton

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