Hailing from diverse work cultures with substantial international exposure, Shafali Goutam and Nonita Mehta share one love that brought them together, a passion that binds them effortlessly in spite of their seemingly different work patterns and backgrounds.
Fitness, to them, is not a mere discipline but a way of life. The co-founders of Corzeal, in a rather lively interaction, fill us in on their personal style, as they lay special emphasis on the dressing routines for a myriad of fitness activities. In doing so, they also offer a futuristic perspective on how fashion and fitness together would fare through the years in India:
WM: Can you walk us through your career journey?
Shafali: I have done my undergraduation from University of Nottingham. Prior to starting Corzeal, I was working with an HR (Human Resource) consulting firm called Aon Hewitt. While I was there, I worked on employee leadership and optimacy enhancement. After which, I met Nonita who has been a childhood friend. So, we started Corzeal, a company that focuses on employee wellness. We focus on the prevention rather than the cure. We focus on physical fitness (zumba, pilates, yoga etc.), mental health where a lot of therapists have partnered with us and nutrition where we have health food partners and more.
Nonita: I have done my undergraduation in Psychology and MBA from Australia. I worked with the Australian government as a case manager for refugees. What brought Shafali and I together was the passion for creating an environment where people can grow and thrive. We have been running Corzeal since five months now.
WM: Both of you hail from completely different backgrounds. How did your skills from your respective fields help you to start and run Corzeal?
Shafali: A mixture of Psychology and Human Resource gives you a lot of insight into organisational behaviour because you understand both, the performance side of things and the mindset of employees. So, when we speak about employee wellness, we wanted to chart out and study what an employee goes through on a daily basis and enhance their working, both physical and mental. Our main aim is to inculcate wellness in the culture of an organisation.
Nonita: I don’t think mental health and HR are two different things. For me, they are one. For us, it was very important to create a foundation companies could build themselves on and an outlook which portrayed holistic wellness. The goal was to create a company that could help companies help themselves. I understand that companies are busy focusing on cracking deals and getting their sales targets met but I think the real value comes from focusing on their people.
WM: Was there a particular point in time when you realised your style?
Shafali: During college, being thrown into an environment where you could wear whatever you wanted to, helped me realise what my sense of style was. It was very experimental in the beginning but the more I started shopping by myself, I started realising what I like and what I don’t. Over the past five to six years, my style has become more minimalistic. I experiment, but only with a certain palette of colours and do not venture into bold and popping shades.
Nonita: For me, it was quite early on. I have always chosen comfort over everything else. It was probably in my late teens that I realised my style. Discovering my style was also part of discovering who I was since I have always been a headstrong person. I have never had major body issues because I like what I wear, I feel comfortable and most importantly, confident in what I wear.
WM: Is there any trend that is prevalent in the fitness industry currently?
Shafali: Bomber jackets are quite in. Especially athletically, we have seen many people carrying bomber jackets and also duffle bags.
Nonita: Mesh is really in. Be it on tights or sports bras. So, workout has become more of a style statement. Another trend that is catching pace is the use of organic fabrics like cotton and khadi rather than materials like latex and polyesters.
WM: How do you usually dress up to work?
Shafali: I usually dress in a pair of denim jeans and cotton or sheer shirts.
Nonita: I dress up in a pair of jeans, a tee and flip-flops.
WM: What is that one thing about each other’s style that you absolutely adore and one thing you think could do with a little change?
Shafali: The way she uses colours in her dressing, because that is something that I don’t do and I think she can pull it off really well. One thing that could do with a little change is probably dressing more formally when we go to client meetings.
Nonita: One thing that I admire about Shafali’s style is her ability to do her make-up, which is neat and effortless. But I feel that she can always try making use of more colours in her outfits.
WM: How did the concept of airport and gym looks come into existence? Are they still relevant in India?
Nonita: The athleisure look on airports evolved from the fact that one would want to wear something comfortable yet trendy while getting on a flight. But honestly, I personally find it a little absurd, just because people seem to be overdoing it.
WM: Does every kind of a fitness routine (yoga, pilates, zumba etc.) require a specific way of dressing?
Nonita: Yes. With yoga, you could go a little looser but with pilates and zumba, you have to wear tighter clothes, those you can move in, those that feel just like your second skin.
WM: Nike recently introduced its first athletic hijab for Muslim women. If this were to be launched in India, do you think women would patronise it enough? How would it fare in the Indian fitness industry?
Nonita: Whatever gets women to exercise, I am on for that. But the demographics and societal rules are very different in India, so one can’t tell how it would fare unless it is launched. But if women want to wear a hijab and go to the gym, it should be embraced by everybody.
WM: Do you think that the kind of clothes (shades, patterns etc.) one wears has an effect on their mental being?
Shafali: More than your clothes defining what you’re feeling mentally, it is the other way around. Like for me, who doesn’t wear too much colour, if I am happy, I would go out wearing a fun, bright coloured top.
Nonita: I feel that what you wear sometimes reflects what your mental being would be.
WM: Where do you see the fitness and fashion scene together a few years down the line?
Nonita: I think it roots from people trying to be more healthy. Today, fashion designers are also pushing for fitness, body confidence and the importance of wellness apart from just design and pattern, hence giving a fashion twist to athletic wear. It’s just the start and I see it going really far.
WM: Is there anybody in particular you draw your style inspiration from?
Shafali: I really like Alia Bhatt’s style and I can relate to it since I feel that her looks are very do-able. She has her own line on Jabong as well. She wears a lot of off-shoulder tops, quirky jumpsuits and many such attires and I absolutely adore it.
Nonita: I, too, would say Alia Bhatt, since I feel that she is a very effortless dresser.
WM: Any style or fitness related advice that you would like to share with the readers?
Shafali: I would really encourage everybody to take out even 10-15 minutes from their routine to do something for their well being. A goalsheet or setting targets, no matter how small, also helps.
Nonita: It is about taking the first step but it is also about doing it right. So, always take professional advice in health and wellness related matters.
What Would Your Attire Be Like, If..
You are to deliver a talk on Women’s Health IssuesShafali: Navy blue dress with front pleats from Forever New, sling bag from Yves Saint Laurent and heels from Charles and Keith. Nonita: A-line dress from Cos, vintage clutch and shoes from Pedro.
You are out for a brief pilates session?Shafali: Mesh tights from Nike, crop top from Miss Selfridge, bomber jacket from H&M and shoes from Adidas. Nonita: Mesh tights from Cotton On Body, cotton top from Fabletics, Bomber jacket from Fabletics and shoes from Adidas.
You have a meeting with potential investors and the deal is very important to crack?Shafali: Black pants from Mango, baby pink embroidered top from Zara, jacket from Zara and heels from Zara. Nonita: Plaid pant suit from Zara, ruffled white shirt from Tahari and shoes from Zara.
If you had to go for a yoga retreat on the outskirts of the city?Shafali: High waisted printed loose pants from Zara, white off shoulder blouse from Mango, flats from Tory Burch, watch from Omega, evil eye bracelet from Istanbul, religious beads and a rose gold cuff. Nonita: Boho chic maxi dress and flats from Tory Burch.
You are to attend the launch party of a fitness brand?Shafali: Black and white printed dress with a front triangular slit from River Island, nude heels from Charles and Keith, black blazer from Zara. Nonita: High waisted wide legged pants from Forever New, pastel blue, off shoulder satin blouse from Bardot, black heels from Pedro and locally shopped earrings.