Confessions of a Mompreneur

Raising kids, much like running a company, is all about finding creative solutions. And who better to demonstrate this than our in-house boss mom, Aditi Mokashi? Read on to find out how she manages to bring her A game to all her commitments, be it at work or at home.

Tell us about your journey— what inspired you to start your own business? 

I have always admired people who have successfully built brands and been able to sustain them over time. I loved the idea of being able to build and create a brand by myself. This itch of starting something of my own along with my love for food, led to me starting a small eatery called Eatout At Wadala, along with my two brothers. We had had a lot of fun setting it up, it was the most I had ever enjoyed while being at work. 

After trying my hand at the food business, I returned to a job for almost 3 years. The business bug was still very much alive, but this time I wanted to be very sure about what it needs to be. I had to ask myself the right questions before I committed to anything. While evaluating various options, I realised that I had enjoyed the creative branding and marketing aspect of setting up my business more than anything. I also wanted to put my 8 years of advertising experience and creative skills to use. I had also just become a mother, and I wanted the freedom to work on my own terms. Thankfully, at the very same time, Mitali was having similar thoughts and wanted flexibility when it came to working. One day, over a cup of coffee, while discussing probable possibilities of various things Mitali and I could do as a business, somewhere Postcard Media was born. 

What are the most exciting and challenging aspects of being a mompreneur? 

I have a ‘let’s wing it’ sort of an attitude with both work and motherhood. I try to find creative solutions to whatever the two roles throw at me: Client asking for new services? Offer them a solution and figure out how to deliver! Child not eating veggies? Turn it into pasta somehow! 

The process teaches you most things, that’s the exciting part of being a mompreneurthe constant evolution. The challenging part is sticking to your commitments. Once you have promised you cannot back out, you have to deliver. (Fun experiment – Try promising a 4-year-old TV time and then denying it).

What has the experience of working from home during the pandemic been like? (How many times have your Zoom calls been video bombed by your kids?! :p) 

The real challenge of the pandemic has been to get her to sit and do her online classes! It’s heartbreaking to watch these kids being denied school and the outdoors which were such an integral part of their childhood. Apart from that, the pandemic has weirdly worked out for us. I have got to spend a lot of time with my daughter which was not the case when I had to go to work every day. Ruhvi is also a very understanding child, she knows Mumma has her work and is more than accommodating when it comes to giving me my space. There are several times she walks in to see what the whole Zoom fuss is all about, but I do not mind it at all. She sees how boring it is and leaves on her own. 

How do you like to spend your me-time? (If you get any of it at all!)   

Thanks to the solid support system I have at home, me-time is an actual possibility. I love cooking and experimenting with new cuisines in the kitchen. A good power nap really helps me focus on things. I love watching a good show or connecting with friends whenever I get the time. Managing a daily walk or some exercise and finding a perfect podcast to listen to is also something I enjoy. 

I have a ‘let’s wing it’ sort of an attitude with both work and motherhood. I try to find creative solutions to whatever the two roles throw at me.

What are some #MommyProblems that you can most relate to or experience the most? 

I really don’t know what all problems go under the #MommyProblems umbrella. We generally face normal parental problems at home: 

  • How to hide the ice cream or chocolate from the child?
  • What to do when you accidentally swear in front of your child and they catch onto it?
  • How to make a place for the unending kids’ stuff in the house?
  • How to invent a new code language so that the kids don’t understand what you are saying?
  • How to drink your coffee before it goes cold?

If you had to ask your daughter to describe your job, what do you think she’d say? (We’ll ask you about your son in a couple of years!) 

Quoting her verbatim: “I think you write letters to your friends on the laptop and sometimes take photos!” 

If you could give your kids just one piece of advice, what would it be?  

I would tell them to never be afraid of making mistakes and re-starting again. If I wouldn’t have learnt from my mistakes with Eatout and dared to trust myself again, Postcard Media wouldn’t have happened.

I wish the kids came with a how-to manual! I wish I knew that in the end, everything works out.

Which are your favourite kids’ and parenting brands on Social Media? 

There are so many amazing brands on Social Media these days. I try to find brands that help me with keeping the kids busy. Some of them whose products and advice I genuinely use and follow are: 

Amma Today – She is a Montessori teacher with some very organic and simple ideas to create a Montessori conducive environment at home. 

Draw with Rob – A YouTube channel to teach simple drawing to kids 

The Mom’s Co, Shumee toys, Making wildpaper, Tulika booksMasilo – these brands have some really nice products. 

What’s the one thing you wish you knew before becoming a parent? 

I wish the kids came with a how-to manual! I wish I knew that in the end, everything works out. I wish someone told me to not fret and enjoy their littleness. I was a puddle of worry for a long time after Ruhvi was born. So, this time around, with Ayaan, I am consciously making an effort to relax and enjoy the baby phase as well. 

Share a picture of a special/ unforgettable/ unique memory of your kid(s) and tell us the story behind it.

The most precious memory for me will always be when my daughter came to the hospital to meet her new baby brother. Ruhvi was asleep when Ayaan was born and woke up to the news in the morning. She was super excited to visit the hospital the next day. It was very emotional for me to see them meet for the first time and it will always remain as one of my best memories.

In the Spotlight- Virali Parekh

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week we have Virali Parekh, an ace choreographer, dance educator and performing artist. She speaks about the nuances of the art, her experience of working with leading choreographers and reinventing ways to connect with the audience during these challenging times. Read to know her story.

Tell us about your journey; how did you get introduced to dance? 

I think I was born into dancing. It was as natural as taking the first steps as a baby for me, so I can’t truly say how I got introduced to it. However, professional dance training came to me very late at the age of 20. As a child, I trained in Bharatnatyam, but after 10th grade, I was discouraged from dancing entirely. Studies took over and only after graduation did, I find my way into professional training at The Danceworx Performing Arts Company, and later I moved to Broadway Dance Center, New York, for further training. I got back in 2016, and since then I have been a part of the choreography teams for several reality shows, music videos, Bollywood songs, etc. along with setting up an online/offline training module with my team.

How would you describe your venture, Dance With Vira

In 2020, our industry took a massive hit and while we locked ourselves up, I knew something had to be done to lift each other’s spirits. I danced in my little room and wondered if I could somehow connect to people to share this energy with. Online platforms did exactly that for us. “Dance with Vira” is an online program that was aimed to motivate people to keep dancing and training at home. When you visit our website, you’d notice that it says, “Move to nurture yourself.” This was a very specific goal-driven program aimed to help people get themselves up during these tough times, using dance/movement as a medium. Initially, it was very tough for me to help or teach through a screen and not be there to correct the body form or structure of the student, but in time, we adapted, and it has been a blessing for me in every way after that. My team and I have bonded with people across cities and countries and managed to share our smiles and anxiety through screens. It has been a beautiful experience so far. I aim to continue this program in the coming months, making it bigger and better in every way possible. For more information, please visit www.dancewithvira.com 

What inspires you as an artiste? 

Inspiration for me ranges from day to day activities like cooking, cleaning, etc. to travelling and sitting on a beach alone listening to the ocean waves. It can come from a life experience, a pet, a stranger, someone’s artwork, a friend’s success story, but majorly inspiration to move specifically comes from music for me. 

Share a story behind your most memorable performance. 

It’s definitely going to be the Global citizen festival, 2015, held at Central Park, New York City. Backstage was not like any regular show backstage. We were in celebrity tents as we watched people like Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Obama, Usher, Malala, etc. in action on stage and prepping backstage too. It was once in a lifetime kind of a stage for me to perform on as I witnessed more than 20,000 people in front of me and I’ll always cherish that moment of rush and excitement. It was overwhelming to dance to an Indian song and watch the crowd go mad about it there. I’ll truly never forget it and I hope I get to travel and dance more and more.

If you could pursue only one dance form for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why? 

Jazz funk for life! It requires the discipline of Jazz training but also has this space to incorporate elements of street styles which makes it super fun, unique and relatable to me.

Who’s the one artiste you can’t wait to collaborate with? 

Ummm…. Beyonce! (always aim high :p)

As a choreographer, what’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?

Last year, I got an opportunity to be a part of the choreography teams of one of the leading choreographers of the Bollywood Industry, Vaibhavi Merchant. So far, that has been the most exciting project for me to learn from and work on. It’s a Holi song for an upcoming movie with Akshay Kumar and Manushi Chillar. The sheer grandeur of the set, the amount of hard work of every member there, 3 continuous shoot days in extreme heat with colours flying all over and more than 600 people in the song, it was truly the most exciting and challenging shoot for me so far. Most of my excitement, of course, comes from the fact that I got to observe how she thinks and works on movement. It opened my mind up back then.

Name the top 3 things on your bucket list. 

Travel to the Maldives before it sinks, lol

Play lead in a HUGE commercial music video at least once in my life

To have my own space for artists to meet, jam and create all kinds of art, music, dance, drama, etc

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why? 

I am not a hardcore follower of one particular account, but for dance, I follow Erica Klein, Jojo Gomez and Rukmini Vijayakumar. They have some brilliant work showcased out there and in some ways, it becomes a learning tool for me.

Where can people get in touch with you?

Instagram handle: @virali_parekh

Or 

www.dancewithvira.com 

[email protected]

The Creators’ Den with Amrita Mahale

Amrita Mahale is the author of the acclaimed novel, Milk Teeth, shortlisted for the Crossword Book Award and longlisted for the JCB Prize for Literature and the Tata LitLive! First Book Award in 2019. She was part of the Sangam writing residency 2017-18 and her writing has appeared in a number of renowned publications such as Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Scroll, Himal Southasian and Brown Paper Bag. She currently works at an applied research lab focused on AI for social good.

Read on to find out how this rocket scientist from IIT and Stanford became a fiction writer.

Tell us about your journey – how did an aerospace engineer find her way into literary fiction? 

I have dreamed of writing novels since I was very young. It was always clear to me that no matter what I studied or where I worked, I would work towards being a writer. The path was a zigzag one. After two degrees in aerospace engineering, I pursued a career in strategy & product design in consumer technology companies. Writing literary fiction has little to do with either of those. I started with baby steps, taking a writing class one day a week and working on short stories on weekends. One of those short stories eventually became Milk Teeth. My journey illustrates that there are many paths to becoming a writer, some longer than others, but if you have something to say and are disciplined and persistent, you will get there. 

What sparked the thought behind your debut novel, Milk Teeth? What inspired you to write this story? 

Milk Teeth took a little over four years to write and edit, but the characters had been living in my head for over a decade as parts of different, shifting stories. The starting point for the novel was the idea of a prophecy that comes true for the most unexpected reasons: a prophecy that these two childhood friends would grow up and get married, even though one is gay and the other is in love with another man. I was thinking a lot at that point about the kinds of social pressures that compel people to make certain decisions. This evolved into the idea that sometimes prophecies are redundant because people live the same lives over and over again, that their lives are scripted by social pressures more than by fate. And slowly that became a look at middle-class society and what happens when its sense of self-worth is thwarted by modern urban life.

“My journey illustrates that there are many paths to becoming a writer, some longer than others, but if you have something to say and are disciplined and persistent, you will get there.”

The city of Mumbai (or Bombay, as we still like to call it!) plays a vivid role in this book. What has been your personal experience with this city? 

I was born in Bombay but spent most of my childhood in Gujarat, till I moved back to the city as a teenager. My entire extended family – grandparents, aunts and uncles and aunts, cousins – was in Bombay / Mumbai, so my summer and winter vacations were spent there. And my own family moved every two years, so the sense of continuity in my childhood came from spending all my vacations in the city. It is the place I have always thought of as home, and also the city I know best. I wrote ‘Milk Teeth’ when I was living in Delhi, but a week after the novel was published, I moved back to Mumbai after eleven years away.

The characters in your story are layered, nuanced and wonderfully real. Were they completely fleshed out right at the outset or did they gradually acquire their personalities along the way? 

Writing a good character is a feat of observation and imagination both, and good characters come from a place of deep feeling. There was a rough starting point for what each character’s journey was about, and the rest came along the way. Each of the characters struggles with something that I have also struggled with: Kartik’s self-doubt and professional dissatisfactions, Ira’s anxiety about her lack of cultural capital, Kaiz’s longing to prove that Mumbai is his home. And each of these is linked to the novel’s central theme: finding your place in a changing world while trying to remain true to an idea you have of yourself. The complexity in the characters came slowly, accruing over several drafts.

“Milk Teeth took a little over four years to write and edit, but the characters had been living in my head for over a decade as parts of different, shifting stories.”

As a writer, do you ever experience a block or slowdown in your creative energy? If so, how do you tackle it?   

It happens all the time. Sometimes, the only way to overcome it is to power through it. Set yourself a word target and don’t step away from your writing spot till you have met your goal. The words you write in the beginning will be terrible, but will help you get into the flow. This approach does not work all the time. Brute force will not help if you haven’t worked out what you want to say, or if you are genuinely beginning to realise that what you are working on has major flaws, or if you are anxious because the world is in the middle of a long, savage pandemic. Sometimes all you can do is be kind to yourself and wait for the creative energy to return.

Follow Amrita on Instagram and Twitter.

Read our review of Milk Teeth.     

In the Spotlight- Mansi Shah

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week we have Mansi Shah, a nature lover by heart who chose to make a difference. With her venture GiftGreen, Mansi turned her passion into a career, creating eco-friendly, low waste products to encourage a greener way of living. Read to know her story.

Tell us about yourself— what inspired you to start your own business? 

I am a person who loves being outdoors. Having spent a lot of time in a boarding school, I have stayed amidst nature for some years. While finishing my master’s and then working for a short period of time, I started realising that I can’t just love nature and admire it, I have to do something for it by working on it full time. My mother was a great inspiration. The way she grew plants at home with so much love and would gift them on special occasions to friends and family and live a low-waste lifestyle was what inspired me to do this seriously. That’s when GiftGreen came into action.

What’s the story behind your venture, GiftGreen?

GiftGreen was started to make alternatives for festivals. We don’t realise the damage we do to nature while we enjoy our festivals. We first started with selling plants in terracotta pots with personalised messages on birthdays and anniversaries. I started making soil and seed modaks for Ganpati at home. During Independence day, I worked on plantable paper to make the Indian flag which had a motto “Don’t throw me, Grow me.” We then slowly had a team of 3-4 people making rangolis for Diwali which can be grown into plants. After 4.5 years, we have a range of personal care items, low waste lifestyle items for anyone looking for alternatives.

What role does Social Media play in helping you build your brand and reach your audience? 

Social Media has played an important role. Before making our Instagram and Facebook page, it was only through word of mouth that GiftGreen was known.  But social media helped us reach a wider range of audience and age groups.

What is your favourite eco-friendly product? 

Okay, That’s a tough one! My favourite would be soil and seed modaks as it holds a very sentimental value and works as a great gift. Any eco-friendly item which is reusable (steel straws, cutlery, tote bags, bamboo brushes) and doesn’t harm nature is my favourite. 

Tell us about your most memorable DIY project/workshop.

My first workshop was the most memorable one. It was on the basics of gardening, I thought nobody would attend such a workshop, but I ended up teaching 5 children and a few adults who were so enthusiastic and the youngest participant was only 4 years old.

If your life was a book or a movie, what would it be called? 

Life Lessons from a Plant 😉 

How do you like to spend your free time?

I am usually gardening in my free time. I make sure I learn new things like embroidery, DIY crafts, new recipes, etc. Dying clothes with natural colours is my new free time hobby.

What are the top three things on your bucket list? 

1. I wish to grow as many plants and trees as I can, wherever I can.

2. Travel to all the national parks, sanctuaries, and forests.

3. Spend more time with people around the country trying to spread awareness about our environment.

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why? 

The zero waste farmer (Manju Kumar) and worm rani (Vaani Murthy) are 2 accounts I really get inspired by.

Where can people get in touch with you?

Email Address: [email protected]

In the Spotlight- Ashish Limaye

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the Spotlight this week we have Ashish Limaye, a professional equestrian who talks about his passion for the sport and his love for coaching. Read to know his story.

Tell us about your journey— how did you get into horse riding? 

I started riding at a small restaurant that had one horse kept in the backyard. A few months after riding there, Pune hosted junior Nationals. I went there to watch and met Col Khan after which I started riding with him. 

Horse rider, trainer, instructor- you don many hats. How best would you describe yourself? 

I enjoy each role that I play in the sport. I would say I am a rider who got the opportunity to work with great horses and good kids to help them bring out the best in them. 

What are some of the most challenging aspects of horsemanship and how do you tackle them?

The most challenging is the fact that there is no one method or step-wise process to work with horses. Each horse is different and you have to understand them individually and find a way to work best with every single one of them. 

What does it take to be an equestrian athlete? What advice would you give to aspiring riders? 

It takes a lot of patience and perseverance. I would advise aspiring riders that when you want to compete and want to beat others, don’t forget that you are not the only one performing. You have a team member who doesn’t talk. So take time to learn to communicate with your team member because only then will you both be able to perform your best.

Share the story of your most memorable victory as an athlete. 

My first international show where I placed third. 

Name the top 3 things on your bucket list. 

Asian Games, Olympics and Retirement.

How do you like to spend your free time? 

I love watching movies. 

What are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media? 

I follow most top riders, Scott Brash, Kent Farrington, Harrie Smolders and so on. 

Where can people get in touch with you?  

I have a Facebook and Instagram account by my name. My email id is [email protected]


The TalkOver- Facebook and Surf Excel

Every brand needs a story that strikes a chord with its audience. There are so many exciting marketing campaigns and commercials that not only help brands sell their products but also capture hearts through heartwarming stories. The TalkOver brings you some of our favourite campaigns of all time, told through our team members’ perspectives.

With the season of colour upon us, we decided to check out some great advertisements by various brands on the occasion of Holi. While Sudhanshu chose the ‘More Together’ campaign by social media giant Facebook which was launched during Holi 2020, Sakshi decided to pick the campaign labelled ‘Rang Laaye Sang’ by Surf Excel from Holi 2019. Whilst both the brands focus on bringing people together, the paths chosen are quite divergent. Read the individual reviews to know how these two brands have interpreted the idea of colours bringing people together, in their own heartwarming ways. 

Facebook – More Together

This beautiful campaign by Facebook, labelled ‘More Together’ was launched in India in March 2020, just before the nightmare of the virus took over our lives. The advertisement perfectly captured the essence of Holi and the holiday spirit that it entails. Translated in 8 languages and showcased on TV and Social Media, the campaign earned huge praise from people in the advertising world.

Created by the agency – Taproot Dentsu, the advertisement showcases a young Indian named Ketan, living in Romania who through Facebook gets updates about his friends playing Holi together in India. This FOMO is experienced by several students who are either studying or working abroad. Before there are any more spoilers suggest you have a look at the advertisement below:-

We have over 32 million Indians living abroad, most of whom can’t make it back for most of the major Indian festivals. Imagine them being able to enjoy certain festivals due to the power of an application. The advertisement is able to capture how the world is beautifully connected using Facebook, which has managed to break the actual physical barriers between people.

In the ad, you can see the Romanian connections answer the call to bring Holi to Romania. Using whatever they can find to create colours “Romanian Style”, these guys head to the store where Ketan works and invite him outside to play Holi. “More Together” captures the cultural nuances of togetherness and the festival perfectly. 

‘The more you open up to the world, the more the world opens up to you’

Facebook, nicely done.

Surf Excel – #RangLaayeSang

On Holi, every year, Surf Excel comes up with a vibrant campaign that captures the essence of this festival in unique ways. Their 2019 campaign became my favourite. The choice of using a pleasing visual to portray a powerful message won over many hearts.

Their idea of “Apnepan ke rang se auron ko rangne main daag lag jaaye, toh DAAG ACCHE HAIN!” was not only an excellent extension of Surf Excel’s popular tagline, but also a prominent message on bringing people together – a core part of Indian festivities. 

The use of a noisy Indian mohallah setup, showing a typical Holi morning where kids are playing with colours and water, is a very relatable scenario for all viewers. The story starts with a girl asking her friends to throw colours and splash water on her – a very unusual call that leaves viewers curious. The climax shows the girl helping a boy who wants to go for his daily prayers (namaz) by shielding him from all the colours, painting a delightful picture of friendship, love and solidarity. The end of the commercial brings in smiles as the girl drops him off outside the Mosque to say – you’ll be coloured after your prayers though!

Despite its humane messaging, this commercial managed to fall prey to controversies. Charges of ‘Love Jihad’ and ‘Namaz being portrayed as more important than Hindu festivities’ were levied. Surf Excel was forced to take the ad down. However, the commercial did make an unforgettable impact on a vast number of viewers.

In my opinion, the commercial was a very optimistic approach to promoting the idea of communal harmony. Well done, Surf Excel! 

How Tech Is Disrupting Leading Industries

When companies first started using technology, it was limited to additional ways to advertise, shop, or research products. This simple idea of shopping from home, without a paper catalog, increases the ways companies can do business. Those who failed to jump on the e-commerce trade have suffered as consumers buy products directly from the manufacturer or companies shipping products immediately at a cheaper rate. 

E-commerce wasn’t the end of changes in the way we conduct business. There is room to disrupt industries such as dining out, on-site security, and getting paid that typically require multiple people or your actual presence to partake in the service provided. Technology will continue to infiltrate our workplaces and homes as technology disruptors become even more present in our lives.

Sweeping

A chore done daily by roommates, children, and grandparents doesn’t seem like an industry that can be disrupted; how fancy can a broom be? Automated cleaning products didn’t stop with the self-cleaning oven. The iRobot company, founded by former MIT students, created Roomba, the floor dwelling automatic sweeping/vacuuming droid. While more expensive than a standard broom, this device sweeps the floor without having the pain of dealing with the line of dust your dustpan leaves behind. 

Using AI and machine learning, the Roomba is able to learn its surroundings to clean your floor. Sensor technology prevents these autonomous cleaners from running into walls, getting stuck under couches, and falling downstairs. Entrepreneurs aren’t letting iRobot be the only company in the new autonomous vacuum industry. New products are attempting to disrupt the disruptor. As companies race for the best or least expensive product, competition is fierce to hire computer science professionals to enhance their robots’ visual mapping and machine learning capabilities.

Eyewear

Disrupting a leading industry doesn’t always mean proprietary technologies. The Internet allows consumers and customers to communicate and administer services at a faster and cheaper rate. Eyeglasses aren’t just used to correct visual flaws, but are a personal fashion statement and can become sentimental. Broken lenses and cracked frames are common plagues of eyeglass wearers who find it is often cheaper to get new glasses than find someone who can repair the frame or replace discontinued lenses. 

Lenscope is entering the eyeglass business to capitalize on the needs of consumers who simply want to fix their current pair of glasses. This business probably wouldn’t be as viable with the volume e-commerce allows. The Brazil-based company is looking to expand outside of the country soon and will undoubtedly need professionals with web development skills.

Career Coaching

Offering services to entrepreneurs, job seekers, and career changers is becoming a viable business outside of major markets. A service once limited geographically is now available all over the world. Not only does this provide a service to those in need of coaching, but it also provides those qualified extra revenue streams to apply their qualifications. Companies that offer virtual services between two outside parties will take additional steps to ensure their platforms are safe on all ends. Cybersecurity professionals will keep their apps safe and protect the sensitive information of their clients.

Getting Paid

The banking industry is staying up to date with technology, but that isn’t stopping companies from entering the market. You probably have at least two financial apps on your phone. If you only have your bank’s app, don’t forget it is possible to send and receive money through Facebook. There are apps for splitting dinner tabs with friends, sending them money, and paying the restaurant through your phone. Credit cards and cash are becoming obsolete. 

Fintech companies are teeming with new features to entice consumers to send money through their app. A unique feature of some apps is getting paid immediately or even paycheck advances. They take the opera singing Vikings of “it’s my money, and I need it now” to a whole new level. Creating an application trustworthy enough is not an easy task. Nor is getting it approved by the FDIC and other oversight committees. These companies need all types of tech professionals, including front and back end developers. You can learn these technical skills in months; you can even become a full stack developer with no degree.

Disruption Is The Future Of Tech

As leading companies and entrepreneurs understand and apply tech in new ways, they will use it in existing industries. There are still thousands of profitable ways to take market share from industry-leading companies.

The author, Artur Meyster, is the CTO of Career Karma (YC W19), an online marketplace that matches career switchers with coding bootcamps. He is also the host of the Breaking Into Startups podcast, which features people with non-traditional backgrounds who broke into tech.

In the Spotlight- Shounak Amonkar

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the Spotlight this week, we have Shounak Amonkar, a celebrity stylist and the co-founder of Who Wore What When. Shounak takes us through his illustrious journey in fashion. Read to know his story.

Tell us about your journey — how did you get into Fashion? 

I did my graduation as a product designer and moved to Milan to do my master’s in fashion accessories. That was honestly my first taste of what it was to be a part of the Fashion industry. That was my first step and from then on I created a shoe collection for my masters’ final graduation project. We had to style the shoot, I mean I had to get it photographed and the shoot looked great and I realised I’d like putting things together and creating a look. That’s how I originally got into styling.

Share the story behind your venture, Who Wore What When.

So, I met Pranay in Milan. Pranay is my partner. We run Who Wore What When together. He was doing his under-graduation in fashion design and I was doing my master’s in accessories. The thing is Milan Fashion Week used to be insane, it used to be an intense week. People used to dress up and there used to be crazy Street Style paparazzi. The whole city turned into a runway and we used to go around clicking these wackily dressed people. We started this blog; it was actually like a street style blog called Who Wore What When which eventually turned into all these interesting people we used to shoot. We started interacting with them, collaborating with them and we started styling them for these street style shoots. Hence, the name Who Wore What When, which was about a blogger or an editor of a magazine or an influencer, what they were wearing and where you can wear these outfits. So basically, it was just a fashion blog and that is how it started. 

What’s your definition of style?

 My definition of style is comfort. If you are uncomfortable, you don’t look stylish, you look puffy and weird. So, if you are comfortable in what you are wearing, I think that inherently starts looking stylish. I primarily wear only black, so my approach is kind of minimalistic when it comes to colour and my general inspiration in terms of style is Yohji Yamamoto. He is a Japanese designer, who does interesting silhouettes and does great all-black clothing.

What’s the most challenging aspect of being a celebrity stylist? 

Being a celebrity stylist, I feel the most challenging part is it’s a lot of work. It’s not fun, it’s not glamorous, it’s not all parties and all of that. It’s extremely exhausting and primarily you need to understand the celebrity, you have to understand their personality because the clothes are an extension of who they are and not what you think works on them. So, we do a lot of research in terms of what they wear, what they look great in, what they wore in the past that did work so there is a lot of research that goes into it and there are endless conversations and hours and hours of fitting and sourcing of clothes. It’s a long, tedious and painful job where our days start from the minute, we get up to the minute we sleep. The thing is, celebrity styling is a very small part that we do but it is very very challenging, everything about it is very challenging.

Where do you draw inspiration from?  

 Honestly, I think anything can inspire us. We like watching period films, we like watching old runways from the 90s, we also love old Italian movies and that is our general sort of aesthetic. We are sort of maximalist, we like vintage hair, big hair, big accessories, and the general vintage Italian vibe is our inspiration most of the time.

Who’s the one celebrity you would love to style and why? 

Ans- Pranay and I are going to have different opinions. Pranay is dying to style Rekha, that’s his ultimate style icon, diva and he is obsessed with her and everything that she stands for, so he would style her. On the other hand, I would love to style Beyoncé, because I think she was quite an inspiration growing up. I think in the early 2000s when I was a teenager, I was quite smitten. She is such a powerhouse, and she is such a diva. I would love, love to work with her! 

What is your favourite item in your closet? 

Ans- Actually as of now, right after the lockdown opened, I travelled to Dubai for my birthday and I found this perfect laptop bag. It’s like this amazing black quilted leather Balmain bag. It’s a super oversized tote with a black tassel. It was love at first sight so that’s currently my favourite item.

How has Social Media impacted your work? 

Ans- The thing is, work for us started in the age of social media. As a company, we are just four years old. So social media has always been very very important. Instagram especially for us is like a portfolio. Nobody checks a website anymore. They just go through your Instagram to have a look at your work. A lot of business queries come through social media. I am not saying all, but almost 80% of business coming our way is because of Instagram and people in our DMs. So yeah, social media is probably a very important reason for where we are now.

What are the top things on your bucket list? 

My top things on the bucket list are:

  • Trying to take a day off in a week and not touch my phone at all! Just do things that I want and not work for just one day a week. We thought we would try to do that as the year began, but it did not happen. So that’s the one very important thing.
  • I am hoping international travel opens up and I have been wanting to go to Istanbul for a very very long time. We were supposed to go in 2020 but that was an epic failure, so hopefully this year.

Where can people get in touch with you?

People can get in touch with us on social media. Instagram is the best because we are super active in our DMs. Somebody from my team is always checking messages and responding to messages. Emails get lost, DMs stay. So, yeah Instagram is good.

The TalkOver- KFC or Puma

Every brand needs a story that strikes a chord with its audience. There are so many exciting marketing campaigns and commercials that not only help brands sell their products but also capture hearts through heartwarming stories. The TalkOver brings you some of our favourite campaigns of all time, told through our team members’ perspectives.

However, we’ll let YOU be the judge of it. Read on and tell us which is the better campaign according to you.

Since it’s Valentines week, we decided to look at some of the best marketing campaigns over the past decade. With Chirag picking Team KFC and its finger lickin’ good ad, Sudhanshu chose Pumas’ highly engaging marketing campaign for football fans worldwide. Let’s dive right in.

KFCLove is Forever 

KFC is known not just for serving world-class fried chicken but also dishing out impactful campaigns. One such example is KFC’s ‘Love is Forever’ commercial, released back in 2011. The ad opens with a group of kids enjoying a KFC meal outside while an old woman looks at them from her balcony; sniffing the air in reminiscence of her childhood. Following this, the ad progresses in a ‘life-in-reverse’ chronology showing the old couple dancing through different life stages. They get younger and younger as they dance before turning into children again. The sequence of events blends beautifully with the background song (Your Song), originally performed by Elton John. A cover of the song sung by Ellie Goulding is used in the commercial. 

The commercial ends with the two kids lying in bed, when the girl says “I’m hungry.” The camera zooms out to show a sticker bearing the Colonel’s face and the words “So Good”.

The commercial resonated with its audience because of its refreshing storytelling and mesmerising visuals. It left the viewers with a warm and fuzzy feeling, usually associated with the satisfaction of having a KFC meal. The “memories” theme highlighted throughout the commercial effortlessly tugs at the viewers’ heartstrings. 

The commercial has garnered over 800K views on YouTube and is considered one of KFC’s finest campaigns to date.

Puma (Puma Hardchorus)

Football or your better half? An age-old question to which we still don’t have any definite answer. It really is the ultimate trick question, ain’t it?

With the 2010 FIFA World Cup in June, the likes of Nike and Adidas with huge marketing campaigns had roped in several football stars from around the globe and shot several commercials. Puma, although a significant player in the footballing world, lacked the deep pockets of Nike or Adidas. On a humble budget, Puma and its advertising agency DROGA5, NY decided to engage with the fans rather than the stars of the game. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, they decided to capitalise on the fact that after several years, Valentine’s day and FA Cup games both were on Sunday. This ultimate opportunity to dramatise and amplify what a fan goes through every single time when choosing between love and football was something Puma simply couldn’t pass up [1].

Launched in February 2010, Puma Harchorus, was a digital love letter by football fans of various clubs and countries all saying sorry to their better halves, that they couldn’t make Valentine’s work this year. What we see are men in pubs singing songs by Savage Garden to their heart’s content. This trend picked up and several fan clubs across Europe also joined in, recording their singing sessions using bare minimum equipment and sending their entries to Puma.

Puma spent only 1/10th as compared to its competitors while roping in huge numbers of in-store walk-ins, an increase in social media followers and 1.8 million users visited Puma online. Within two weeks of the campaign launch, the video had 5 million views and over 50,000 of these videos were made by fans across 121 countries [2].

Kudos to the advertising team:-

Advertising Agency: DROGA5, New York

Executive Creative Director: Ted Royer/Duncan Marshall

Creative Director: Neil Heymann

Copywriter: Erik Hogfeldt

Art Director: Petter Hernmarck

Production Company: KNUCKLEHEAD London UNITED KINGDOM

Director:Ben Gregor

Post Production:The Mill

In the Spotlight- Akanksha Maker

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Akanksha Maker, a travel enthusiast at heart and the Managing Editor at Business Traveller India. Read on to know her story.

Tell us about your journey, as a writer, journalist and now a managing editor.

Since school, I have always been interested in the written word. It was around the 8th grade that I knew that I wanted to become a journalist. Having studied BMM (Bachelors of Mass Media) and then my masters in marketing and communications from Westminster Business School, I gained work experience across a few companies in marketing and creative direction. I had been freelancing with iDiva and Mumbai Mirror since college and juggled between writing and marketing ever since. I then interviewed with the CEO of Business Traveller India that was planning its launch in 2015. Being passionate about travel since my childhood, this stint almost seemed too good to be true. I was then hired as assistant editor of the magazine and then began some of the most memorable years of my life, where I got on a plane almost every month, discovering and exploring different parts of the world – all while “working”. Writing, travelling and editing almost came naturally to me, and work didn’t feel like it, most of the time. However, what I loved the most, besides discovering wondrous places in the world, was meeting people from different walks of life and listening to their stories. Coming from a family of travel lovers, and now travelling for a living, I have been lucky enough to visit roughly 22 countries as yet. As of today, I work as Business Traveller India’s managing editor, and continue to love what I do!

Share a story about your most memorable business trip.

It’s so hard to pick one. It would be between Tokyo, London, Kathmandu and Paris, so let me share a line for each! Waking up to the view of Mount Fuji from my room at Aman Tokyo; visiting London in 2019 before the pandemic hit during Christmas time and soaking in all the yuletide magic; and taking a Buddha Air flight from Kathmandu for a “joy ride” to see Mount Everest; and watching Metallica live in concert in Paris. Clearly, my business trips turned to leisure ones post the meetings’ schedules!

What advice would you give to aspiring travel writers?

Pursue the passion behind travel, and the rest will come naturally.

What’s the most exciting trend you’ve witnessed in your industry in the last few years?

Since my forte is in business travel, I’ve noticed a seamless blend between business and leisure travel (bleisure travel). Post the pandemic, workations and staycations have become almost second nature to corporate travellers, who miss that comfort of a hotel room! And lastly, luxury travel has evolved from being loud and over the top glitz to intimate and sophisticated minimalism.

Being the managing editor of a travel publication, what are the key challenges you’ve faced due to the global pandemic and how have you tried to tackle them?

Our job as a travel publication is to keep the spirits high of travellers and especially the industry who has been badly hit – including aviation, hospitality and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events). We endeavour to focus on the positive stories and remind people of their wanderlust, vicariously letting them travel to destinations via our words and pictures. Our readers have also been interested in knowing about the rules and regulations with regards to pandemic related restrictions, and we keep them up to date on the same.

What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?

I absolutely love space and aviation; so one thing on top of my bucket list is this “Edge of Space Jet Flight” in Russia that takes you to the edge of the stratosphere, for a once in a lifetime flight on a MiG-29 Fulcrum aircraft. After this point in air, only astronauts can fly!

Second on my list is an expedition to Antarctica, where I would like to walk amongst seals and penguins, watch blue whales dive into the icy waters, and hike to vantage points of the South Pole.

Third on my list is a diving trip to Yongala in Australia, which is a shipwreck off the coast of Queensland, to swim alongside manta rays, octopuses, turtles, bull sharks, tiger sharks, clouds of fish and vivid coral.

A book you think every writer must read?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. The book spans the history of humankind from the stone age to the 21st century. It intersects natural and social sciences, telling you about the awe-inspiring facts of the world that we live in – only making you want to discover it more. It also makes you realise how small we are in comparison to the planet we reside in.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I love watching science fiction, documentaries and history shows, working out, listening to music and learning more about the things that I love – reading about destinations to travel to, new foods to try and basically expanding my horizons in whatever way I can.

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why?

I love @somewheremagazine for their mesmerising photographs of the earth and @accidentallywesanderson for their aesthetic imagery inspired by the filmmaker.

Where can people get in touch with you?

You can follow me on @akanksha_maker on Instagram or write to me at [email protected]