Conversation with neelakshi singh – Fashion stylist, Body positive advocate and a professor at Pearl Academy, Neelakshi Singh aka Plumptopretty is winning hearts for her distinctive personality and quality content. Having walked the ramp for Half Full Curve at Lakme Fashion Week and getting featured in Mumbai Mirror, Femina, mid-day and many more, Neelakshi Singh is unstoppable. Here are her views on the industry and working as a freelancer.
1. What inspired you to become a fashion influencer and a body positivity activist? When did you start your journey?
I never sought out to become an influencer and honestly till date I don’t believe heavily on the actual definition of an influencer. I do, however, love the idea how much and how easily people can relate to my lifestyle or my work and incorporate it into their daily musings. I started my journey back in 2012 when I was just trying to get out of my comfort zone and experimenting and waiting for an approval at least from my virtual fam. It was more of a hobby for me and my best friend to come together and play dress up in front of the camera- He got to practice hair and I got to do my styling and designing. I also started to become much more self-aware of how could I possibly be affecting peoples life if not changing it and hence it became very important for me to dress well to feel good about myself and I guess that reflected onto my content as well. The virtual family is the one that consented and gave me a response positive enough to get going. Everyone needs validation and I may not be a rage but I’m definitely a spark that is not afraid to speak her mind.
2. How did you build yourself as a brand? Is it about contacts in the industry, talent, savings, persistence or just pure luck. Feel free to elaborate.
I was very lucky to have work come to me. I got visibility when I produced better curated and thought over content. Persistence is always the key to anything. There are times when you want to give up but now I really feel the satisfaction of making something of your own. I can reassure about one thing that is, in spite of being from the fashion industry I had to create the niche for myself. I honestly believed in doing this when nobody else was even trying. Today it feels so good to see so many men and woman being so comfortable and proud in their own skin.
3. What challenges do you face sustaining as a freelancer in today’s highly competitive industry?
It’s a very competitive industry and the only challenge I find myself struggling with is to churn good content with my tight schedule. To produce good original content one needs to travel far and wide, learn and unlearn and experience things in their own way. I work 6 days a week lecturing as an adjunct professor at two fashion institutes in Mumbai and it can be quite daunting to just be omnipresent everywhere. There are a lot of tools for a creator now and one can easily make their presence or fad away in the crowd, it does need a lot of self-belief and a good amount of validation from virtual family (at least for me).
4. “Collaborations” seems to be the new term in the freelance industry, what according to you are the pros and cons of collaborating and how should one go about it?
Collaboration isn’t as bad as it is made out to be. Often collaborations are how one makes their mark. I know I have, but too much of anything leads to abuse. The word exposure for the new artistes, arising out of collaboration has done more damage than anything. My work started with collaborating with big players in the market that I never thought I would get to work with and obviously everyone goes beyond the aspiration and finally wants to be reimbursed after a point of time and that is hardly recognized in this industry. There are many takers for an opportunity so less. When it comes to collaboration I feel finding something that syncs without having to agree to a compromise that satisfies someone else’s taste, without feeling obligated to give up ideas in order to incorporate the thinking of others into the work than one should go for it. I truly believe collaboration allows artists to experiment, take chances, as well as learn from and teach others. I would definitely want to add that at the end of the day, if blogging /modelling is my full time profession I would probably die of hunger or would be clinging hard to my parent’s cradle now.
5. Can you share with us an experience from the industry that changed your perspective of it?
Inclusivity is the new black! The fact that anyone and everyone can be a true representation of their unique style is what I’m loving about the industry right now. It’s definitely an advent of the social media revolution where everyone can be a star in their own right and I absolutely believe that everyone needs to make hay while the sun shines.
6. What advice would you like to give to the upcoming talents?
This may be something that everybody tells you but that is because it a cent percent true. Never give up on believing in yourself. There will be a day you would be saying this to someone else who is looking up to you. You may fail but you shall always take away another learning from it. Keep your conscience clear and work smart more than hard. Learn to value yourself and learn to say No when the need arises. If you don’t you are making this complicated not only for yourself but also for the people who would be coming after you.