How a Side Hustle Became a Global Fashion Brand

Prom season 2024 is coming soon, and high school students nationwide will be trying to find the right dress and accessories for a memorable night. One fashion brand that has created a unique buzz in the prom dress industry is Amarra — and it all started as a side hustle.

The Amarra brand of dresses is based on modern, bold designs with innovative cuts to enhance the look of everyone who wears them. Amarra makes prom dresses, wedding dresses, quinceañera gowns, and other high-end fashion dresses for formal occasions or fun evenings out. The brand’s dresses are sold in over 850 retail locations.

We talked with Amarra co-founder and creative director Abhi Madan about how he started the Amarra concept as a side hustle while working at a full-time day job. See how this unique fashion brand started from a side hustle and grew into a successful small business.

How to start a side hustle: Dream big, start small

The fashion industry is notoriously competitive, and it can be hard to get a foot in the door — whether you’re trying to get hired at a job, build relationships with wholesale buyers, or impress the fashion influencers and tastemakers who can turn your design into a global phenomenon. Sometimes the best way to make an impact is to do your own thing and start small.

Abhi Madan started Amarra as a side hustle while working at a day job, and he quickly started to earn a decent amount of income. “Starting Amarra as my side hustle transformed my personal finances and fueled my innate passion for fashion design and creativity,” Madan said. “In the initial stages, I managed to earn roughly around $2,000 per month which essentially covered my day-to-day expenses while letting my creative juices flow.”

Abhi Madan’s Amarra side hustle story is a great example of how exciting and lucrative it can be to earn extra income on the side. You might be surprised at how much you can make during nights and weekends if you unleash your creative, entrepreneurial energies.

Not every fashion designer can become a worldwide success. And fashion is not all about marketing, fads, or short-term hype — the best fashion brands have a sense of visual impact and emotional substance that connects with people and creates enduring value. Abhi Madan and the Amarra brand have created a unique look that resonates with people.

“Creating iconic fashion pieces allowed Amarra to grow its reputation which in turn boosted sales, leading to an increased income and financial stability,” Madan said. “Additionally, the brand has successfully created a network of over 850 stores selling globally, securing its financial future. Eventually, what started as a side hustle flourished into a full-fledged business, marking a significant milestone in my professional journey.”

And Abhi Madan is not just a great designer; his company did the hard work behind the scenes to build relationships with fashion buyers, creating a network of stores that sell Amarra dresses. If you want to succeed in a side hustle as a creative entrepreneur, whether you’re a fashion designer, graphic designer, software developer, or business consultant, you need to build relationships and learn from your customers. Listen to what the market is demanding, and try to fulfill that need.

Running a small business requires calculated risk-taking

The fashion industry is often dominated by big brand names with big bank accounts — but there can also be room for exciting new brands with fresh designs to break through and build a big following. Amarra was able to capitalize on opportunities and expand its network of stores in just a few years. But the company had to take some chances and overcome obstacles along the way.

“We faced multifold challenges from establishing a brand identity to succeeding in a market dominated by established names,” Abhi Madan said. “Persistence, market research, and attention to detail were the key ingredients to break through these barriers. I discovered that running a small business is not about risk-taking, but rather about calculated decisions.”

Another interesting lesson from Madan’s journey in building the Amarra brand is that success in small business is not always about taking big risks. It’s not about betting everything on one big score, or swinging for the fences and hoping for a home run every time. Most small businesses do not become successful based on one big deal or one momentous day when everything falls into place. Instead, small business success is often more gradual and incremental. It’s about hitting singles, not hitting home runs.

Small business advice from Abhi Madan, Amarra

We asked Abhi Madan to share some small business software recommendations and advice for other business owners and side hustlers. Madan’s favorite small business software for everyday operations at Amarra includes:

“My advice to others contemplating a side hustle would be to leverage your interests and passions and align them with a viable market demand,” Madan said. “Believe in your ideas and don’t rush the process. Understanding your market and adapting to its changing trends is crucial. And persistence and patience always pay off.”

Learn more at or see the latest Amarra designs on Instagram @amarraofficial.

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