Influencer Masoom Minawala on how she built an online community of over a million followers
For influencer and social media personality Masoom Minawala, no two days are alike.
She shoots videos for online content, strategises them, and collaborates with luxury fashion houses like Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Bvlgari, as well as brands like Estée Lauder, Samsung, BMW, and Airbnb, among others. In 2019, Masoom represented India at the coveted Cannes Film Festival red carpet.
She has also dabbled with entrepreneurship in the D2C space with her venture Style Fiesta, a fashion ecommerce platform catering to millennial women in India. More than a decade after experimenting with blogging and building an online community, she has been recognised among leading female entrepreneurs worldwide by HSBC and was featured on CNN’s ‘20 under 40’ list.
“The best part is definitely the community; having around one million people who will think of you, show up for you every day and react to the content you're putting out there is amazing,” Masoom tells HerStory.
But when she started 10 years ago, the influencer says she was walking into something that didn’t exist. Chasing a passion in an uncertain space with no “industry leaders” was both a challenge and a source of inspiration.
“Today, I do think I've made it. I'm waking up to a job that I absolutely love doing and that completely matches my monetary goals as well as my career goals in terms of the impact I want to create. So, I have made it to a place of personal satisfaction,” she adds.
She takes her learnings in innovative and influencer marketing and forging brand relationships, and leverages them to lead innovation and strategy at ecommerce platform The Cai Store, where she is the equity partner. Masoom had joined the Mumbai-based D2C footwear platform in 2019.
At the same time, she is concerned about the chances of platforms like Instagram getting banned because it has taken her years to build the community.
“We had a little bit of a scare when we thought Instagram might get banned in India and I had this crazy sickening feeling. I wasn't stressed about my career but about how large a role it plays in my career. I had this really sad and sinking feeling thinking that if this does happen, how am I going to keep in touch with my community?” she explains.
Empowering women voices
With a formidable presence online, Masoom is now focused on highlighting women-led businesses and unique Indian designers through initiatives like Empowher and #SupportIndianDesigners, respectively.
She recalls starting as an entrepreneur in an environment which had only a handful of women.
“I felt like I faced so many obstacles, problems and issues because of my gender. If I had someone to guide me through that phase, it would've made my process quicker and easier.”
With Empowher, she hopes to create a space for working women and entrepreneurs to be able to openly talk about the problems and obstacles they face at the workplace. For Masoom, it is a way of giving back to the online community that has helped her build a career.
She believes “the values, culture, and irreplaceable” nature of work that Indian designers exhibit deserves a much larger audience.
“I run #SupportIndianDesigners through a not-for-profit campaign. I have a lot of access to the global fashion industry and we represent India at various platforms like London Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week, and Paris Fashion Week. But I want to figure out a way to take Indian fashion to a global scale while also holding on to the culture,” she explains.
As a feminist, Masoom says she is on a continuous path of learning consciously and that it is “really about equal opportunity and equal responsibility for both the sexes.”
Keeping mental health in check
Picture credit: Masoom Minawala's Instagram page
Even with the glamour that comes with a massive following, maintaining an online fan base tends to be a tricky challenge. One has to be consistent and accountable for the content delivered.
“It's not been the easiest journey. I've made some mistakes along the way. At times, I've been tone-deaf and irresponsible, and I completely and wholly accept that. I wouldn't know better if I didn't make those mistakes. I learned from them and I'm trying to be better every day,” she says.
In fact, Masoom adds that having to be consistent 365 days a year often gets mentally and physically draining but she makes sure to stay off social media until it is absolutely necessary.
A decade into navigating online spaces, Masoom strives not to let fame get to her head and knowing that online attention is temporary has been a biggest lesson, one that helps keep her mental health in check.
To aspiring influencers, she advises not to chase overnight success.
“It is an extremely exciting industry and one that can fulfill a lot of your dreams so tread carefully. Know and remember to build your brand with longevity, permanency, and consistency because getting thousands and millions of followers overnight will not matter as much as building a strong and reliable community,” she concludes.