Not often do you find an architect, having a masters degree from Harvard University, turning into a fashion blogger. Shilpa Ahuja, the founder of ShilpaAhuja.com and one of the leading fashion bloggers in India today, is one of that kind.
“I write for the everyday working girl who just wants fashion to make her feel confident. That’s why I never think of myself as a fashion influencer. I’m just a style BFF who can give some honest practical advice but also laugh with you.” – Shilpa Ahuja
Shilpa recollects her journey: “After I completed my Masters in Design degree from Harvard, I wanted to do something entrepreneurial. So I left my stable career to take this risk. I loved the idea of blogging because I’ve always been a writer and magazine-making has been my hobby since I was 12”. Read Shilpa’s full story here.
Taking such a bold step and successfully making a mark within the Indian fashion landscape is far from being a cakewalk. Expectedly, Shilpa’s journey was not easy either. “The biggest challenge came right at the beginning when I had to mentally prepare myself about going from a stable income to taking a financial risk and starting a business from scratch, which needs a whole lot of self-motivation every day. Another challenge was to find our own unique place in the existing landscape of fashion media, figuring out how ShilpaAhuja.com is different and relevant. Starting a team and learning to become a good leader for my team was also something that I needed to learn.”, shares Shilpa.
“Being a fashion outsider, I started writing about how to translate runway fashion into wearable style.” – Shilpa
Shilpa leads a team of 7 people to manage her social profiles, and thus, is on her toes 24×7 for content planning, sorting out any technical issues, and making sure everything is up to the mark. While talking about her work Shilpa shares: “Behind the scenes at our office is a whole lot of fun. Everyone loves the work they do and that’s what makes it worth it. It’s mostly about watching a lot of fashion shows, and we spend months discussing every look in detail, spotting new trends for the next season and presenting them in the articles, in our shop as well as in our photo-shoots and videos.”
“The content ideas usually come from the issues I personally care about, which I know affect every millennial woman, such as dark skin makeup, or body image as it relates to confidence and mental health. Some ideas are based on our readers’ demographics.” – Shilpa
“I analyse the micro-audiences on our social media channels or blog and what their style requirements may be and how we can solve their everyday fashion dilemmas.” – Shilpa
You can follow Shilpa on Youtube, Twitter, Instagram and her favourite, Facebook. Shilpa shares her love for Facebook saying, “We have a large following of 120K there and our audience is very engaged. They frequently give us ideas which help us be even better. In fact, our Facebook page’s messaging first started Q&A with our followers, which we then brought to our blog as AskShilpa section, where readers ask us their style-related questions.”
Shilpa believes that the fashion landscape of India has taken up really well since the last decade with new fashion designers coming out every season, breeding an entire plethora of fresh versatilities. She highly regards the contribution of digital media in positively affecting Indian fashion. “Up until the last decade, new trends were available only in certain stores in certain cities or in certain designers’ collections. In other words, fashion was only for the rich and famous. But in the digital world, every new trend is accessible to everyone in every small city and it’s affordable. It’s bridging the gap between couture and street fashion, as is the case with the rest of the world, too.”, says Shilpa.
“Till the last decade, Bollywood was the only go-to source of fashion inspiration for the Indian consumer. But on social media, we find new style inspirations, whether it’s from random Pinterest images, or bloggers, or international models.” – Shilpa
“I have a slightly different content strategy for all different social media channels so that if a common reader follows me on two different channels, they should not find it boring or repetitive.” – Shilpa
When asked about influencer marketing in India, Shilpa confirms, “Influencer marketing is yet to evolve to the stage where they can be utilized to their fullest potential. For that to happen, brands will need to choose the right influencers. They should also take into account the influencers’ affinity with the brand, and how well the promotion will work with the influencer’s existing content. That will dictate how engaging the campaign is. Currently, brand managers usually choose influencers based on how many social media followers they have. And the only brief they give is that a product needs to be promoted. A clearer marketing goal, a thorough collaboration in the campaign designing process with the influencer to suit their audience will take the promotion to a whole new level, really building a connection with the followers.”
Shilpa on how to hit a balance between what hit a balance between ‘what the brand wants to communicate’ and ‘what your audience want to get’ in the content: “I let the brand set the topic, and I let my blog’s philosophy set the tone or angle.”
Out of the numerous branded campaigns she has been a part of, Shilpa singles out the Nike Air Max campaign, for which she trained for three months to get in shape for the gym-shoot.
“Brands always have their own promotional requirements that may call for a short-term campaign like for events or a long-term collaboration like a new collection every season. I certainly enjoy long-term collaborations more because they give me a chance to try different ideas out, and create really unique campaigns.” – Shilpa
Shilpa acknowledges the growing importance of influencer marketing platforms: “Influencer marketing agencies like Greenroom are already playing an amazing role in the influencer marketing landscape. They help the brands connect with the right influencers and vice versa. Just like traditional jobs are giving way to their digital counterparts, the same will happen with media jobs too.”
Tips for aspiring fashion bloggers: “I would advise the aspirants to search themselves to see how they’re unique as a person and as a fashionista. And how that uniqueness can be helpful for their readers or followers.” – Shilpa
“I always say that fashion is for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, skin colour or body type. It’s okay to hate a new trend, and it’s okay to have a unique taste. Wear what makes you feel confident and happy because fashion is not about being uncomfortable or following a norm or fitting in. Fashion is about expressing ourselves and wearing what makes us feel good. So spend your money only on what you’ll really wear. But don’t be afraid to try new things.”, says Shilpa as a message to her followers.
Risk takers like Shilpa encourage a lot of youth to go after what they really like doing, irrespective of the world expects out of them. Shilpa’s success story is a testimony to the fact that the Indian fashion landscape has already picked up the pace, with the help of social media influencers, and is expected to accelerate like never before. Team Greenroom Buzz wishes all the very best to Shilpa for all her future endeavours.