Exotica International was a women's clothing business founded by Raj K. Randhawa. Randhawa's daughter, Nikki Haley was the company's CFO before becoming Governor of South Carolina.
Randhawa earned her law degree from the University of Delhi and immigrated to the United States with her husband, Ajit S. Randhawa. In the United States, Raj Randhawa earned a master's degree in education and taught for seven years in the Bamberg, South Carolina public schools before founding Exotica in 1976. The shop began in Bamberg as an imported giftware boutique, expanding by adding clothing in 1980. The shop later moved to Orangeburg, and then to Columbia. For three decades, the shop was a major upscale women's clothing retailer in the Midlands of South Carolina, selling gowns, suits and jewelry. By 2004, Exotica had an annual revenue of $1.8 million and Mrs. Raj Randhawa was running the business together with her daughters Simran and Nikki.
Mrs. Randhawa closed the shop and retired in 2008.
All 4 of the Randhawa children worked in the shop, as did their granddaughter, Alyssa Randhawa. Ajit Randhawa joined the business after his retirement as professor and chairman of the Division of Natural Sciences, Math and Computer Sciences at Voorhees College in 1998. Son-in-law Michael Haley worked as men's wear manager.
The company is remembered primarily for having employed Randhawa's daughter, Nikki Haley. According to The Economist, the most important passage in Haley's autobiography, Can’t is Not an Option is her recounting of how keeping the books in her mother’s dress shop imbued her with "an extreme watchfulness about overheads and a sharp aversion to government intrusion."
Mrs. Randhawa put her daughter, Nikki Haley, to work after school as a bookkeeper from the time Nikki was 13 years old. She later became company comptroller. Comparing Haley with another shopkeeper's daughter, Margaret Thatcher, The Economist asserts that Haley's girlhood job in her mother's shop gave her, "an extreme watchfulness about overheads and a sharp aversion to government intrusion." Haley continued working for Exotica during her terms in the South Carolina legislature, a part-time position; she left the company after her election as Governor.
- "Exotica founders closing store, plan retirement". McClatchy - Tribune Business News. 20 April 2008.
- Potts, Michel (5 March 2004). "Business Owner Runs For S.C. Legislature". India-West.
- Theroux, Paul (2015). Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 42. ISBN 0544323521. Search this book on
- Haley, Nikki (2012). Can't is Not an Option. Penguin. ISBN 1101568860.
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- Dewan, Shaila (13 June 2010). "All Her Life, Nikki Haley Was the Different One". New York Times. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
- Dutt, Ela (18 June 2004). "Nikki Haley in runoff for South Carolina Assembly Republican Primaries". News India - Times.
- Roberts, Kayleigh (29 December 2016). "Who Is Nikki Haley? 13 Things You Need to Know About Trump's Pick for U.N. Ambassador". Marie Claire. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
- "Haley's Comet". The Economist. 16 January 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
- Singh, Simran (12 November 2010). "We live the American Dream". India Abroad.
- Siddiqui, Sabrina (30 June 2015). "Nikki Haley and the Confederate flag: the latest battle in career that defies the odds". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
- Chaudhuri, Pramit Pal (6 November 2008). "Mixed fortunes for Indian American hopefuls". Hindustan Times.
- George, Joseph (20 October 2006). "Nikki Haley gets second term". India Abroad. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
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