‘A huge obstacle in our industry is cancel culture’
The fashion influencer, Masoom Minawala Mehta, believes that people should be allowed to learn from their mistakes
With 1.3 million followers on Instagram, the new mom-to-be, Masoom Minawala Mehta is a well-known fashion influencer/blogger, an entrepreneur and a women’s activist. One of the first Indian content creators to walk on the red carpet at Cannes Film Festival, the first to be a showstopper at Milan Fashion Week for designer Vaishali S, and a true representer of Indian fashion on global platforms, Minawala-Mehta has done it all! In a candid conversation with us, she opened up about her journey, achievements and plans ahead.
1. Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Mumbai.
2. What kind of a student were you in school?
I wasn’t very academically inclined in school, although I did enjoy playing football.
3. Tell us a little about your family.
I’m very close to them. They’ve been extremely supportive since the beginning. We make it a point to travel together as a family at least once a year.
4. What did you study in college and how was your experience?
I did a bachelor’s in commerce from HR College in Bombay and went ahead to study at The University of Arts in London where I completed six diploma courses around the business of fashion. My post-graduation in London shaped me personally and professionally.
5. When did your interest in fashion pique?
I was always interested in fashion, but my interest was piqued in early 20s. By the time I finished studying fashion at The University of Arts in London, I was certain that my work had to be in this field.
6. Who did you look up to then?
I loved Olivia Palermo’s (an American influencer) style; it was chic, smart and powerful.
7. How did your journey begin?
My journey in the industry started with an internship at a fashion house, which is where I stumbled upon blogging and fell in love with it. It led to creating Style Fiesta, my fashion blog, and really fuelled my ambition. That was my first means of exploring fashion. Little did I know that it would inspire me to make a career in this industry.
8. When was the first time you realized you’ve become an influencer?
I realized it when I could actually generate revenue for businesses through my platform and when brands were ready to invest in me.
9. Were there any failures in the beginning and learnings from them?
Failures are a part of growth and what success is actually built on. So, yes, there were multiple failures in my journey and sometimes still are. My e-commerce startup Style Fiesta wasn’t successful. I was initially dismissed as an influencer when I moved base to Belgium. But I didn’t let that deter me from diving deep into a career I loved and knew I could revolutionize. I saw my failures as learning lessons that helped me improve, an incredibly powerful motivational force, and a sign to do things differently.
10. What do people not realize about an influencer?
People don’t realize that even individuals in the spotlight are only showcasing a limited and the most polished part of their lives. Many aspects are kept private and aren’t necessarily as joyful as they appear to be on social media.
11. What was your aim when you started in this field vs now?
Short-term goals have and will keep evolving over time, but largely my aim has always been to influence change with my content. Be it with #IndiaILove, #SupportIndianDesigners, Empowher-- my long-term goal is to empower women and spotlight India.
12. Who is your favourite designer(s) in India?
I’ve always loved Anamika Khanna’s work and even wore one of her designs for my wedding. While exquisitely traditional, I think her designs exude a sense of modern heritage, which compliments my personal style as well.
13. What are the challenges in this space?
A huge obstacle in our industry is the cancel culture as it allows no second chances. In my opinion, people should be allowed to learn from their mistakes instead of being stripped off of everything they’ve spent a lifetime building. It’s not morally correct to take people’s entire careers away without giving them a chance to redeem themselves.
14. What have been some of your biggest achievements?
Two years ago, my team and I initiated a not-for-profit campaign #SupportIndianDesigners in an effort to spotlight small and mid-scale businesses that were hit by the tremors of COVID-19. The impact I was able to drive with this property was beyond my belief. I still get DMs from several brands thanking me for #MasoomMagic. Many have communicated how my support changed their businesses, sales, and revenue forever and even helped them truly establish their ventures.
On the personal front, being a part of Forbes’ Asia 30 Under 30 list and being a UN Generation Equality ally, is something I take immense pride in.
15. What are your thoughts on sustainable and genderless fashion?
I think genderless apparel is the future of sustainable fashion. Removing gender constructs around clothing paves the way for limited production, inclusive fashion, lesser and more mindful consumption, and most prominently, sharing clothes without gender barriers.
16. You’ve been an active advocate of homegrown labels and often highlight them on international platforms. Please explain.
The Indian market is abundant with exquisite crafts that are exclusive to India, and it’s important that we spotlight these small but dynamite businesses nationally and globally. These businesses in return, not only create lucrative employment for local karigars and preserve our heritage crafts, but also drive revenue back into our economy and leave a smaller carbon footprint.
17. Which is the social cause that you’re most attached to?
Women empowerment is something I care about deeply. It has been the driving force in my professional choices as well. Considering 48% of India’s population is female, we need to acknowledge and value the contributions women make in the workforce, the economy, domestic life, everywhere!
18. What is your view on Indian fashion going global?
It’s about time the world gets to witness the exceptional talent and craft India brings to the table! Our country has access to extraordinarily talented artisans, the most intricate techniques and the richest of textiles. So, it’s an honor to witness Indian designers utilize that and make their mark internationally.
19. How do you think Indian karigars and artisans can be promoted nationally and internationally?
Our country is blessed with an extraordinary heritage of crafts and recognizing businesses that are tapping into that and supporting local artisans is the only way forward. Raising awareness about these businesses through the resources and platforms we have will not only generate employment for our Indian karigars and drive revenue back into our economy, but also keep Indian crafts alive through the next generation.
20. What’s your style statement?
My personal style statement is definitely minimalistic glam. A few trends that will always be in style, in my opinion, are: Power suits, elevated basics, voluminous silhouettes and monochrome dressing.
21. Which Gen Z styles are you most fond of?
I don’t single out trends based on the Gen Z/X categories but a few trends I’m currently loving are tie-up sandals and cutouts.
22. Which is your favourite cuisine and place to travel?
When it comes to food, there’s nothing as delectable as Indian cuisine. I don’t have a favourite travel spot. I enjoy experiencing new places and cultures, but next on my bucket list is the Grand Canyon. I’ve only seen pictures but the fluid motions of sand look unreal and I can’t wait to witness its magic in real life.
23. You made your pregnancy announcement much later. What was the thought behind it?
I wanted to hold on to the news for a little while and shared it when I felt I was ready. I definitely couldn’t hide it from my community any longer.
24. What style tips you’d like to give to new moms-to-be?
I’ve not planned on making any major style changes. I’m going to continue wearing what aligns with my personal style. I’d share the same tip with new moms/moms-to-be: To wear what resonates with your personal style and feels comfortable.
25. What advice would you like to give to upcoming fashion influencers?
I’d stress the importance of staying true to your voice, vision and long-term goals since that’s been the guiding light in my journey and what sets me apart.
26. What are you working on currently and what are your big future plans?
We currently have our hands full with the festive season prep. Beyond that, lots of exciting projects will unfold in the next few months, so stay tuned!