With over 1.33 million followers across all platforms, digital content creator Masoom Minawala Mehta is a name to reckon with in India’s fashion and lifestyle influencer space. She recently turned entrepreneur with her venture, #Empowher, which aims to promote homegrown women-led brands and present them to a global audience. In an exclusive interview, the fashionista tells us about making a mark in the fashion space and her latest venture. By Bayar Jain
T+L India: What or who inspired you to venture into the fashion industry?
Masoom Minawala Mehta:As a child, styling looks was one of my hobbies. When I was 19, I discovered what a fashion influencer was and instantly knew that it is what I wanted to do.. I went home, told my mum about it and she came up with the name “Style Fiesta”. I began by documenting my styling journey on BlogSpot. 11 years later, here I am, still being inspired by the factors around me.
T+L India: Tell us about #Empowher, and how it came into being.
Masoom Minawala Mehta: The story behind #Empowher sprouts from the loss of my own business, my shortcomings and learnings. When I was 21, in the pre-Amazon and Zara India, I had a vision to connect my community of fashionistas to the most trending fashion articles through my e-commerce platform. Due to some logistical issues, my start-up ran into losses. From that day on, I understood the value of supporting women-led businesses. I realised that even if one person could benefit from my experiences and not repeat the same mistakes, I would do my bit as a responsible influencer.
T+L India: What, according to you, are some of the biggest challenges female entrepreneurs face?
Masoom Minawala Mehta: Recently, I came across this survey that stated that even though the year 2020-21 saw a spike in female entrepreneurship, the venture capital funding was capped at just 2.3 per cent. This means that there is still some inherent gender bias in play.
I still remember when I began with my start-up, I was told to get a man to do my negotiations to add leverage. A lot of people didn’t take my business proposal seriously . They didn’t trust me to stay consistent after I got married. When and if an investor wasn’t dismissive of my proposal, they would often under-value the worth of my company like I had no idea what I was in for. By the looks of it, unfortunately this toxic phenomenon continues to exist.
T+L India: How do you deal with the pressures of constant content creation?
Masoom Minawala Mehta: The pressure to deliver and outperform is extremely high, considering that the internet is evolving at the speed of light. I believe that in a field like mine, consistency is key—whether it’s quality content or frequency of posts.
In the past decade, I have learnt to work around this pressure by working ahead of my deadlines to ensure my content isn’t rushed. In fact, I have strategically invested in curating a bank of content for emergencies.
T+L India: You recently represented India at the Paris Fashion Week. How was the experience?
Masoom Minawala Mehta: Physically attending the Paris Fashion Week was just surreal. In the past, I have enjoyed shooting in the Parisian lanes dressed in contemporary-Indian silhouettes.
T+L India: How does travel influence your work?
Masoom Minawala Mehta: I constantly look for inspiration in whatever I do. Travelling has a way of broadening one’s perspective. When I recently visited Mexico, I felt my creative senses were reborn. Travelling for me is a cathartic pleasure that stimulates my senses. [There is] something about the cultural charm of the countries I visit, the people I meet and the local fashion I witness.
T+L India: You work extensively in supporting Indian designers. Who are some of your favourites?
Masoom Minawala Mehta: It’s tough to pick a few, but some that I often reach out to are Saaksha & Kinni, Whim by Poorvi, Studio RIGU and a ton more!
T+L India: What are some local Indian textiles and handicraft that you wish the world knew more of?
Masoom Minawala Mehta: I feel Indian textile and handicraft is so versatile that it can be integrated with any western or contemporary silhouette. From the intricacy of chikankari to the weaves of Kanchipuram to khadi and even leheriya, the world deserves to discover and experience each and every pillar of Indian textiles and handlooms.
T+L India: Tell us about your solo travels. What were some of your most memorable experiences?
Masoom Minawala Mehta: I usually go on a lot of solo work trips and I love meeting new people whilst absorbing the culture. I always make it a point to take some time out to visit the local cafes.
T+L India: Are there any places that you desperately want to visit?
Masoom Minawala Mehta: I’ve always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon. The way nature has shaped that structure is just so mesmerising!
T+L India: Must-visit places in India, in terms of fashion and style?
Masoom Minawala Mehta: I recently visited Rajasthan. Everything about the state is so vibrant; it’s like a breath of fresh air. From leheriya, the OG Indian tie-dye, to gota-patti and to finding a saree spun from the fibres of custard apple, I think Rajasthan is a one-stop fashion destination.
However, there’s no place like Mumbai to observe interesting street-style fashion.
T+L India: What’s your fashion must-have while travelling?
Masoom Minawala Mehta: Whether I’m travelling to the mountains or to the ocean, I always carry my sunglasses.
T+L India: Your top five skincare tips while travelling?
Masoom Minawala Mehta: Wherever you decide to travel, soak in a lot of vitamin D. That being said, don’t forget to use a sunscreen with a good SPF. Always keep a water bottle handy. If I’m going to a hilly region, I never forget to pack Vaseline. Lastly, I never leave without my favourite perfume and face wash.
Related: Women On The March: In Conversation With Former Actor Sameera Reddy On Tackling Body Shaming