How Masoom Minawala transformed India’s fashion business one step at a time
One cannot talk about the Indian creators’ industry and not mention Masoom Minawala. Starting her career almost a decade ago, Masoom took the blogger’s route when it was still in its nascent stage in India. Back in the day, Masoom was popularly known as Style Fiesta, the blogger. Today, Masoom’s name is synonymous with two identities– the brand and the fashion blogger/ social media influencer.
Last year, when the Paris Fashion Week returned to its physical avatar, Masoom represented India at the Hermes show, along with the Bollywood regulars. Additionally, she has collaborated with more than 500 brands including the likes of Samsung, BMW, Estee Lauder, Louis Vuitton, and Dior, to name a few. She has also walked the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival.
On the second day of YourStory’s Creators Inc Conference, Masoom explains her dizzying popularity that commands a following of 1.1 million (and growing) on Instagram, and around 52,000 subscribers on YouTube.
Masoom’s success as an entrepreneur and a creator did not come easy. Before she built her brand, followed by millions today, Masoom failed as a startup founder. At the age of 19, she started a business selling shoes imported from China. Despite being profitable and raising funds, Masoom’s venture failed a year later.
But does the success today not come with the fear of another failure?
Masoom says, “I deal with it (the fear of failure) every day. We are living in a time where we should accept and acknowledge it rather than running away from it. Our job environment is growing and evolving so quickly and dynamically that if we are not up to date, we have so much to lose and we have so much to sail by. As soon as we accept the fear of failure, we will be open to making more mistakes, and eventually leading to more learning and leading a fulfilling life.”
Masoom’s passion spanning blogging and online community building has bore fruits today. She has now been recognised as a leading global female entrepreneur by HSBC, and featured on CNN’s 20 Under 40 list.
The secret sauce
On being asked how Masoom deals with creativity blocks she says, “I have built a team, a structure and a framework to maintain the fluidity and authenticity that comes with content creation, to ensure that I am creating content for the love of it and not for the sake of it.”
Everytime she hits creativity blocks, the influencer “switches off.” Multiple breaks and being great at switching off is Masoom’s secret of avoiding creative exhaustion.
Juggling between Style Fiesta and Masoom Minawala comes with the challenge of dealing with an identity crisis. Masoom mentions, “It is so hard deciding between when to show up as ‘Masoom Minawala the brand’ and ‘Masoom Minawala the individual’.”
To overcome situations like these, Masoom has a couple of set ways:
- The influencer uses social media only for businesses, and never for personal purposes. “It was extremely difficult initially but it is also a very small price to pay in the longer run,” she adds. She further explains that every time she uploads a story or a feed post, she shows up as ‘Masoom the brand.’
“Every time I take a break or I am unwell or having a bad day at work, I don’t need to show up on social media. It is work for me,” she adds.
- Secondly, in order to live-in-the-moment, Masoom avoids posting in real-time. While she might be taking a vacation with her husband, sponsored by a hotel, Masoom only posts her content during her work hours, and not as she captures them.
- On an average day, Masoom avoids checking her phone or posting her content online post 9 PM, to maintain discipline.
A decade of milestones and failures
Masoom lists out the most significant milestones she has experienced in the last 10 years of growing into this high-profile influencer:
- The launch and success of the #SupportIndianDesigners, a not-for-profit initiative Masoom started during the first wave of the pandemic, when small businesses were shutting down as they couldn’t deal with the volatility that the industry was experiencing.
“I used my platform to create content that would help uplift their businesses and get the right traction on their websites. The series led to thousands of conversations. It was a great reminder of why I am doing what I am doing; and how content can drive towards individuals and businesses today.”
- Secondly, she mentions a brand collaboration that she did a year ago that led to almost 250 conversions for a high-ticketed item over a span of up to three months. Emphasising the significance of the collaboration, Masoom says, “Since the time I started (creating content), I have been hearing people talk about how this industry is a fluff– there is so much glamour, glitz and extravagance associated with it, but people keep questioning where is the heart and impact? How content creation has become an integral marketing tool today? I think this instance shows the real value of the influencer business.”
- Thirdly, Masoom talks about walking the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, representing India at a large and global scale, as her moment of pride.
For Masoom, the challenges that she faced while building her empire have been as significant and important as the milestones. Looking back, Masoom highlights the two most important hurdles along her journey:
- The struggle of constantly evolving and adapting the new features on the internet, while managing to stay relevant. “All of this while not falling into the trap of relevant content,” she adds. She goes on to explain that one must create content while staying true to oneself, and not just for the sake of being relevant. “It is a confusing web of thoughts,” she says.
While starting her journey as a blogger, Masoom moved around platforms including Facebook and Twitter, until finally leveraging Instagram, and now, YouTube and LinkedIn as well. “I think this challenge keeps us content creators on our toes,” she adds.
- Secondly, and most importantly, Masoom speaks about the challenges associated with the ‘woman’ tag. Starting her first venture at 19, Masoom recalls that her business was in a space where she did not have many to turn to for advice and mentorship. “I was consistently ridiculed for being a woman in business, for sitting on a table with investors, looking to raise funds, for being a woman who thought she could foray into the internet world and actually create something profitable and sustainable, and for being a woman who would prioritise her career as much as she prioritises her personal life.”
The battles Masoom once fought have now turned into her strength. “It has been a beautiful obstacle in my life,” she adds.
In true community building spirit, Masoom now endorses women-led small businesses and unique Indian designers through initiatives Empowher and #SupportIndianDesigners.
For more on other key initiatives as part of the conference, visit our Creators Inc. website here.
Recognising the burgeoning creator ecosystem and the new wave of entrepreneurship that comes with it, YourStory is celebrating the works of both established and emerging influencers in an initiative aimed at identifying, celebrating and accelerating the journey of digital creators who make extraordinary, unique and engaging content. We've partnered with Trell to bring you the Top 100 Creators challenge, which you can apply for here.