Our Team

Vandana Sharad - Founder & President 

Our TeamVandana Sharad was born and raised in India. She received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University, followed by a 3-year Fashion Design Diploma from National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT,) New Delhi and an AAS in Advertising and Marketing Communication from Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT,) New York. Vandana is the Founder of the social enterprise House of Avana. Previously, she worked with Nike India as National Head for Retail Marketing, as the National Head for Retail and Outdoor Marketing with Reebok India, Head of Visual Merchandising with Swatch Group India and as Retail Marketing Manager for Grasim Industries over a career spanning a decade and a half. She has won awards like the Best Team Player and Best Innovator during her professional career. Her passion to contribute to the development of society led Vandana to start working with artisans in her country of residence, Cote d’Ivoire. Her interaction with victims of the war, especially children left orphaned due to war, convinced her that art could be the great healer for traumatized and hurting hearts. House of Avana was founded to work with artisans to help create better finished products that could compete in the international market and House of Avana Foundation is being registered to help children in orphanages in war-affected zones to heal using art as a medium. Project ART IN HEART aims at working on one-on-one with such children.

Sharad Sridhar - Principal Investor & Business Co-Owner

Sharad Sridhar was born and raised in India. He received a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Biology from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS,) New Delhi, followed by a Masters of Business Administration from International Management Institute (IMI,) New Delhi.Sharad is a specialist in the agri-food business and has worked with ITC, India and Archers Daniels Midland, India and West Africa. Currently, Sharad lives in Abidjan and consults and advises multinationals on entry strategies in West Africa. He also manages a food import and a farming business. Sharad is the principal investor for House of Avana and also co-owns the business.

Abeni Johnson - Director - Business Development, Corporate Communication | Board Member

Our TeamAbeni Jackson-Johnson was born in Waukegan, Illinois but raised all over the United States because her mother was an officer in the US Navy. She resided in Flint, Michigan for the majority of her school career. She received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Joint Social Sciences at the University of Michigan and is completing her Master’s in International Education and Special Education with certification at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. She currently works as a part-time special education teacher for the Arlington Public School District in Arlington, Virginia. Previously, she worked at the International Community School of Abidjan (ICSA) in Cote d’Ivoire West Africa for 3 years as a pre-kindergarten lead teacher and served as department head for the Early Childhood Development Department. She was nominated by her colleagues to represent the teachers on the Director’s Counsel at ICSA. She was the coordinator of Outreach Ministry at International Fellowship of Christians (IFC) and has completed a cohort called Unveiled: Finding Your Voice in Pursuit of His. She has obtained a certificate in Teaching Dyslexia and Detecting Child Abuse through the Virginia Department of Education Abeni is currently a Board Member for House of Avana and handles Business Development and Corporate Communication for the company in the United States.Abeni is also on the Board for House of Avana Foundation that is under registration.