If you graduated from Great Neck North between 2005 and 2012, chances are that you might run into a classmate when you’re holiday shopping at Roosevelt Field Mall this season. The Hakakian sisters, Neda, Nika and Nora, who graduated in 2005, 2006 and 2012 respectively, recently opened their third Barami boutique on Roosevelt Field’s Upper Level.
At a time when other retailers are trying to find their niche, these sisters have found success selling a fun mix of work and play clothes and accessories at reasonable prices.
After high school, Neda headed to Los Angeles for school and worked in the West Coast Barami locations. When the leases were up, she closed the stores and moved back to run wholesale and marketing with her father, Bahram Hakakian (aka Barami), a 40-year wholesale and retail fashion-
industry veteran, who founded the business in the 1980s.
Nika attended the European School of Economics, where she had the opportunity to spend a semester in Paris, and then joined the company and began the accessories division.
After graduating from the University of Rhode Island, Nora was offered a job at a surgeon’s office, but decided she wanted to join “her fashionable family.”
The sisters decided to work together because, “It was just something we all really loved—fashion, hanging out. We knew it would have its challenges, but we also knew that it would have a major reward,” said Neda, VP national sales manager and VP marketing.
They each use their unique qualities to complement one another. Neda can lead, Nika is “beyond patient” and Nora is extremely organized and patient.
“Whatever one of us lacks, the other two really have,” said Neda. “We attempt to hold all company discussions together. We haven’t learned just one thing from each other—and since we are together after work as well, we are constantly learning. If you aren’t learning, you aren’t growing.”
The family operates seven retail and one outlet store under the Barami and Patrizia Luca names in New York on Long Island, in New York City and Westchester, and in Maryland. The Hakakians also manufacture Patrizia Luca–branded clothing, which sells in more than 600 stores nationwide and at www.patrizialuca.com.
Neda leads sales, marketing and wholesale. Nika is responsible for accessories and spots the trends. Nora ensures that the stores are maintaining all of their responsibilities and assists the other two with anything they need.
The businesswomen are extraordinarily dedicated and hardworking for a number of reasons.
“We all work extra hard because we all really want to surpass the expectations already set for us—by our father, our parents really, and our society,” said Neda. “Sometimes people enjoy watching you attempt and fail. It’s sad, but true. So we want to make sure we keep a smile on our faces—and succeed. Plus, we work our butts off because, in reality, how can we ask our team members to do things if they believe we aren’t? So we make sure that the company sees we are just as involved in all aspects.”
The trio said that the collection gets better every year and that they would wear 99 percent of it. In fact, they all share the same clothing, but style it very differently.
“Nika does our in-store merchandising, so she and Nora make the stores look pretty,” said Neda. “I bring the collection to them in grouplets, so they can maintain the great job they have been doing. I always say, I am the more relaxed casual dresser—jeans and a tee. Nika loves bright colors and dresses more girlie. Nora is the ‘cool’ one; she is really the trendsetter. We always try to steal her clothing.”
Working together can have its challenges, but the sisters seem to thrive.
“We have always been close,” said Neda. “Challenges arise, but we really are good about discussing and going forward. We were raised by parents from big families. Our father has six brothers, so we have 21 first cousins. We grew up knowing how special it was to have such love around us always. So, do we have moments that aren’t magical? Of course, but they last all of a moment, and we go forward.”
Spending so much time together, do their conversations always revolve around work?
“It’s funny, they do,” said Neda. “We are working on that. When we do dinner and things, we attempt to bring the conversation elsewhere, but when you love something so much, it really is all you speak about. So we laugh about it, but we do find ourselves always discussing work.”
These successful businesswomen share some advice for those thinking about starting their own business.
“Love what you are doing, and ask for help when needed,” said Neda. “No one knows everything, and its cheaper to learn from someone else’s mistakes than having to learn them yourself. Without the passion and love, nothing will blossom, so you really have to mentally, emotionally and physically invest—and then the dream is endless.”