On 02-May-2017 In People & Politics
Fashion has been my calling ever since I was a kid and even as a little girl I dreamt of having a career in this field. Sadly so, fashion had always been looked upon as an uncertain and offbeat career option back then, and everyone asked me to first “finish my education and get a corporate job” because that was considered safe, before exploring this field more. Not confident myself because of the taboo attached to it, I decided to put my dreams on hold, and “travel the road taken the most”.I became the ideal academic topper through most of my education. However, by the time I began my masters, I started feeling really uneasy because this time the guilt of not following what I wanted to do wouldn't leave me alone. I mean I was 21! This was the time to do what I really wanted to do and chase my dreams. I figured the best middle ground between attending college and making my mark in fashion was blogging. So after a lot of research, I set up a website myself and made a profile on Instagram and started sharing my personal style, my travel photos and things I believed in and thought people would connect to. I was too over joyed with the idea of finally following my dreams that I didn't care about the result but I just kept on working hard, managing my extremely difficult Masters, exams and internships with shooting for my blog and using my pocket money to buy clothes, mostly street shopping at the time because I couldn’t afford expensive clothes. I couldn’t afford a photographer back then so I would ask my friends to quickly take my photos whenever they had the time. About two months later, Swarovski organised a styling contest with hundreds of bloggers from all over India participating. I wasn't confident enough to participate but my friends made me do it anyway. The first round shortlisted a mere number of 20 bloggers from each city which cut down to 3 teams of 2 all over India and then 1 final team of 2 bloggers won from the whole of India. I won the contest and flew to Paris on an all expense paid trip. I met the Global Creative head of Swarovski and shot for the Swarovski magazine. I also shot for the Grazia India Magazine all over Paris with my blog just 2 months old.I got back with more than what I had expected and with double the motivation. This contest gave my blog all the needed exposure and it picked up.People had started recognizing me, and appreciating my style and work and brands started approaching me for work. Everything was well until I started facing problems in college. We had to complete a dissertation based on original economic research and the pressure was building up. Professors started calling me out because I would use my phone in lectures to edit my photos for the blog in order to manage time efficiently during days when I couldn't work on the blog at home because I had to study for exams and I had to attend college because of attendance.
The competition in the blog sphere was rising simultaneously with endless talent pouring in. Like everyone else, I faced a lot of self doubt and insecurity about making my work stand out and carving my own niche. I didn’t have the time or the money to shoot. In an ever changing field like this, my style was evolving too and the ideas and pictures which looked appealing to me earlier no longer seemed attractive. I stopped connecting with my own blog. This struggle continued for about 3-4 months, due to which I became highly inactive and ended up sacrificing my blog’s growth and brand collaborations. This demotivated me even further, but I never entered a phase where I wanted to give up. I was finally chasing my dreams and I knew nothing good comes easy. I revamped my blog, hired professionals to make my website, a photography team to shoot my pictures, all with my savings from previous collaborations and my pocket money.
I started maintaining a journal where I would write down my goals everyday. I strived to do endless all nighters to manage my college and blog simultaneously. Brands would normally only work with people having huge fan following, but I didn’t worry about that and just focused on creating great and useful content for the readers I already had. And my efforts finally paid off. I started getting better opportunities. In fact, I got the chance to meet Deepika Padukone and interact with her for Tissot. My audience started raising and loving my new content. This was around the time my college got over and I had all the confidence and positivity to take blogging up as a full time career option, no matter how unconventional society thought it to be.
A month later, in July 2016 Myntra along with Puma organised an all India blogger hunt to select someone based on two rounds of styling Puma clothes inspired by Rihanna. There were thousands of entries from all over the country and the first round was based on votes from the general audience. The top 10 went to the final round where jury members were to select a winner. I ended up winning the same and was flown to New York, all expenses paid, where I had a one on one chat with none other than Rihanna and met the Global CEO of Puma. To be able to meet and talk to her who has been an inspiration for so many by doing and following her path without caring for the world and interacting with so many amazingly talented individuals who appreciated and acknowledged my work, I got back with a clear vision to expand my platform and develop a community of people who shared similar interests and a love for fashion.
My blog and I have never looked back since. I have been featured in Cosmopolitan and Vogue , invited as a panelist in prestigious colleges like IIT Delhi, Kamla Nehru College, judged fashion shows, Covered Dire straits for Delhi, worked with great brands like Calvin Klein, Kalyan Jewellers, Koovs, Omega, Maxfashion, Forever 21, Puma, Yepme, Kiko Milano, VLCC, SBI, Flipkart, Gillette to name a few and traveled to beautiful places for work. I have also been chosen to be the state ambassador for Delhi by the Ministry of Tourism and I am the face of a luxury aviation company GoChoppers.
But most importantly, today I have gained the audience that loves me for me. We are a community, a huge bunch of friends that talk about fashion, about being confident and positive come what may, and about following your dreams to be extremely happy.(Niki Mehra is an Indian travel and fashion blogger)