We first met Rakhee Mehta at the MagicRise event that took place last month in Aer, Four Seasons Hotel, Mumbai. Amidst all the positive energy that one felt at this fun morning party, it was hard to miss the vibe Rakhee exuded. A rare quality in a woman, must we add, given the fast-paced life most of us are used to leading in an urban set-up. But that’s not all. There’s also, what one may call, a sense of confidence that you notice in her. And we were curious to know her story.
On asking, she was glad to invite us for a tête-à-tête at her Juhu apartment. In conversation, we realised that her sense of confidence we noticed in the initial meet was not just innate, it has also grown with time, experience and sheer grit. Not only is her family well connected, Rakhee has with time been associated with the best in the business. From working with Ved Prakash Arya to seeing the expansion of Future Group and working under Kishore Biyani… being a Business Advisor to Nandan A. Piramal, and working in Corporate Strategy for Aditya Birla Retail Limited’s property More, her career graph is exceptional. She now is the Director at Idea Shop Designs Pvt Ltd and also the founder of India’s first-morning wellness party MagicRise. We were impressed and kept hurling questions that ranged from her work to her style evolution et al. Read excerpts from the interview…
With so much going on in your workspace, we know you keep shuffling between the States and India. Take us through the journey?
In 2014, I had left for the States, just to be there for a month. But once I was there things got pretty interesting and there was a change of mind. I met so many cool people and saw such a great work environment, I ended up staying for six months. I figured how to implement things that are really out of the box. That’s when my journey started. From being a nobody here, I landed up meeting personalities like Mel Gibson, Bill Gates, and in time I was working closely while mentoring start-ups in the Silicon Valley.
While I was there and their lifestyle inspired me, at the back of my mind, I always thought of how India should learn from that. Our current lifestyle is bothersome — work, party, getting back home and work again, it adds zero benefit to life. We need to change that. We as Indians have a very safeguarded approach. But, we are going through a lot of change with this upcoming generation. And in time, it’ll come across as a sudden change, that will be difficult to handle.
Is that the thought process behind MagicRise?
Yes. When I was in San Francisco, a dear friend of mine, Lucian Tarnowski, asked me to join in for a party. But the difference was it was a morning party. I went there at about 5 a.m. and everything was so pleasant. The sheer energy that you have when you’re not using any substance to gain a high, but feeling positive because of the release of Serotonin — the chemical that’s responsible to trigger happiness in your body — is the best feeling. That’s when I thought to myself, I have to bring this concept to India. I decided to add wellness to the morning party and build a platform for that. That’s how MagicRise started. I’m glad the trend is picking up in Mumbai and across India. Also, the environment is so much fun — you make friends and meet like-minded people. And now we’ve also started the Aqua Rise edition — it has aqua fitness like aqua aerobics, aqua yoga, aqua Zumba and more. It’s fantastic to see how just bringing people together in a room can change energy, thoughts, and mindsets. And that’s inspiring.
Let’s talk about your style evolution. Your style has changed over the years; was it a conscious decision?
I’ve always loved clothes and dressing up. In fact standing out with simplicity doesn’t take too much, and this one can learn from Japan. I’ve always been someone who shops a lot. But ever since I got into retail, I’ve had an added understanding of garment structure, flow, fit, style and cut. Also, now that I travel a lot, I realise the importance of wearing pure fabrics.
So you’re a minimalist?
Yes… I am someone with a minimalistic approach; and have consciously reduced buying too much. Instead, I reuse the same outfit by wearing it in a different style for multiple occasions. I love buying lightweight outfits that I know can be repeated in more ways than one.
For instance, if I buy a plain strapless jumper, it is easy to wear it as is or with a jacket. That’s the great thing about having multi-usable garments; it’s just about how you style it and no one can figure that it’s the same piece. The idea is how well you put together an ensemble. At the end of the day, style is also about personal confidence.
Where do you derive your style inspiration from?
I am inspired by real people; people from my friend list. My friend Lea Tarnowski is one such person. Also, since I like timeless looks, I’d say Maharani Gayatri Devi.
What’s your personal style like?
As a person, I do not fit into an excel sheet, if I may put it that way. But my personal style is more towards classics. I also believe that there should be one simple element that will make a statement. For instance, my sporty outfits that are zippered will have a thumb hole. Or my dress will have an edgy slit on it. I tend to look for classic elements on outfits.
Tell us what’s your closet like?
If I have to define it, I’d say it’s a traveller’s closet. I have stacked it with clothes for different seasons.
Are there any staples you own in your wardrobe?
I have way too many staples, to be honest. Black shoes are an essential. So is a classic pair of nude, gold as well as silver shoes; because they can be used for many occasions. It’s the same with shades; a classic black-rimmed pair is a must have. Since I have a small face, when I do find a pair of sunglasses that look great on me I cling onto them. An essential part of my style is accessories. I love statement brooches; not only is it very stylish it is also a classic accessory.
Since I am a traveller, the one thing I believe in is that beauty starts from within. One doesn’t need cosmetics to look beautiful. Nourished skin is extremely important, and I use baby oil and glycerine to get great skin. I also use Vitamin E creams. Essentials in makeup are a great foundation stick and a kohl pencil.
What are some of your favourite brands?
I love & Other Stories, it’s an all-time favourite. Also, Trafaluc By Zara is great. These fast fashion brands are both wearable and have great styles. Because you need to have fast fashion. I also like Roland Mouret; it’s a very classy brand. Even BCBG Max Azria has a great collection. For shoes, DKNY is THE brand to try.
Of late, I am highly inclined towards wearable tech. Recently, I bought diamond studs which have muted light in them; it’s very elegant. I also plan to bring wearable tech merchandise in MagicRise events. I think wearable tech is the future of the garment industry.
Is there an item you splurge on?
I’ve always been of the opinion that a shoe is the backbone of every outfit. You always need to have a pair of good shoes that are also comfortable. Being in retail, I’ve had to walk a lot… so instead of focussing on other elements of the ensemble, I’ve splurged in great shoes.
That said, I’ve stopped buying too many bags, as I don’t think it enhances the outfit as much. If you’ve seen Anna Wintour’s interview, you’ll notice that she mentions how she barely carries bags. I personally feel, bags look great but they do not complement your posture. At the most, if I’m out, I only carry a clutch.
Tell us what’s your most recent splurge?
My blue BCBG Max Azria gown; it cost me $350 on sale. Then I bought a Kate Spade bag for $400. And the most splurged item in my closet is my Prada backpack. That’s also a favourite of mine…it’s very me, and I carry it wherever I go.
Online shopping or shopping from stores — which one do you prefer?
I never shop online; I am pretty old-school when it comes to shopping and I like seeing my products before I buy it. I usually shop outfits (especially Western garments) when I am on the move. That said, I do know of a few brands that I can purchase online. For Indian garments I prefer Gaurav Gupta — his designs are classy and edgy at once. Then there’s Not So Serious by Pallavi Mohan; I love her designs.
Describe your style in three words.
I would say clean, chic, and elegant.
How does the concept of a digital closet sound to you?
I think digital closet is a great idea, and it’s actually the future. India is just getting geared up for the online market, and like anything else, it is going to have its own growth span. That said, it is catching up pretty fast.
Location Courtesy: Estella, Juhu