She's often called a global fashion influencer, someone whose style choices are followed or, at least, closely looked at across the world. But beyond her outfits, it’s perhaps her approach to work that makes Masoom Minawala Mehta a successful brand.
With over one million Instagram followers and 11 years of blogging experience, Minawala Mehta has created a strong identity in the fashion world and uses that power to celebrate Indian designer labels on the international stage. She's walked the ramp for Vaishali S. at the recent Milan Fashion Week and wore Amit Aggarwal for the recently concluded Cannes Film Festival. She won the Most Authentic Fashion Influencer award at the World Influencers and Bloggers Awards (WIBA) 2022 held in Cannes.
In an interview with Lounge, she talks about her Cannes experience, her business strategy, the future of creator industry and the transactional nature of the profession. Edited excerpts:
This is your third time at the Cannes red carpet…
It's thrilling each time. And the excitement… every year is different with a new experience. I have learnt how to be more comfortable on the red carpet, in front of the camera… and I’m glad I’m learning the mechanics of it. And watching my budding content creators walking the carpet gives me optimism that the creator industry is growing exponentially.
How have you seen the industry evolve in the past decade?
From justifying that clicking pictures isn’t just a “hobby” to actually building a global multi-million dollar empire in less than 10 years, that’s how far we’ve come. I remember during the start of my blogging days, not everyone saw this as a serious profession. But look at it now; we have broken so many barriers, especially the women. I think with the evolving technology and the demand in the digital world, creator economy is the future.
Some experts do point out that the bubble of the creator economy is going to soon burst.
Well it did, in a sense, during covid. It ended careers of many creators, but it also led to the birth of this new generation of content creators who are thriving now. Influencer marketing is the strongest form of human interaction that the era of the internet has witnessed. You can have an instant connection with your community, and access content that specifically interests you. The sense of community building, resonance and relatability stems from influencer marketing. So how can we, the ordinary people, ever be obsolete?
Is that why you believe there's more space now for content creators when it comes to, say, brand promotions, walking the red carpet for international events… things earlier reserved for members of the film industry?
Absolutely. When we look at film stars on billboards, we always look up; there's a distance between them and us…. When it comes to content creators, there's no such distance. We are the neighbour next door. We are more real, in a sense, and that works in our favour. The global audience now wants more candidness, realism and undercurrents of authenticity, which is what influencers bring more to the table.
But does it ever get to you, the fame, the transactional nature of the profession?
I have been in this profession for 11 years and I have learnt to keep things separate. It's not been easy and I've learnt it the hard way but in order to maintain my mental well-being, it is important to distinguish between Masoom, the brand, and Masoom, the person. That's because I cannot let the dynamic nature of the Internet impact who I really am. The importance of work-life balance is something I adhere to very closely. My business is my content and that's what I building.
How do you have this clarity in terms of your business and craft?
I believe in treating my work as a business; one that’s built on my self-brand. Once you start investing in yourself as a brand, you are bound to grow.
You have walked for both national and international designers. What's that one thing you believe has helped you create a niche for yourself as a fashion influencer?
Staying true to myself at all points in time. Eleven years ago, when I started my journey, I used to do fashion blogging as a hobby, to document my personal style. Even today whenever I’m styling a look, that’s what I do. My clothes reflect my personal choices. I’ve always believed that authenticity is the best aesthetic and the influencer industry is very welcoming of individuality.
This also exposes you to a lot of people's opinions and comments on the dress you wore or the hairstyle you did. Do you think that's okay?
Honestly, if you’re in the industry which is so out there on social media or traditional media, you know that you’re exposing yourself to some constructive criticism or maybe trolling. The only difference is that whether creators are being criticised or judged for their work or their fashion choices, it’s on a platform that everyone has access to.
What do you do when you have down days?
I take time to feel my feelings. I take a break, allow myself the time that I need to get back on the saddle and I return stronger than ever.