holiCHIC by Megha is an internationally renowned fashion company based out of New York, The name, much like the collection, symbolizes a fresh perspective. The word “Holi” is taken from the exuberant spring festival symbolizing color and love. Paired with “Chic” it creates a new standard of modern opulence for conventional Indian fashion.
Inspired by two of their favorite cities in the world, Mumbai and NYC, this label represents a thoughtful movement of designing garments for quality, versatility and longevity. It allows you to shop in a more meaningful, sustainable way, building your wardrobe with timeless staples you can wear season after season. Megha’s goal is to offer you a tasteful Indo-Western fashion experience, leaving you feeling empowered and proud of your dual identities.
Since its foundation in March 2015, the brand has amassed a loyal community of 95k followers, was the first South Asian brand to present at NYFW, dressed many celebrities including Mindy Kaling, collaborated with global fashion brand SHEIN, partnered with mainstream retailers – all aligned with their mission to bring due attention to South Asian craft, culture and design.
Raj Girn: Welcome to this special edition of The ANOKHI UNCENSORED Show. I’m your host, Raj Girn, and I’m here super thrilled to be chatting with the fabulous Megha Rao, who is the founder of the holyCHIC by Megha fashion brand, which she uses to advocate for centuries old artisanal craftsmanship, sustainable fashion, bringing the worlds of the East and West together to represent the North American South Asian culture and creating a global space for women to support women. It is for this reason that Megha is being honored on The ANOKHI ADVOCATE List in commemoration of the 19th anniversary of ANOKHI LIFE’s service to the global South Asian community. Welcome and congratulations, sweetheart. I’m super glad to honour you and to have you on the show.
Megha Rao: I am so honoured. It means so much to myself, my brand, my team, and honestly, you should be super proud as well. I mean, the work that you have been doing. I’ve been watching all the interviews along the way and you’re also an advocate. You’re advocating for us for South Asians across the globe, and that is a big, big thing as well. So congrats to you too.
RG: Oh, sweetheart, you know, you just always put a smile on my face every single time I get the opportunity to talk to you. So I want to actually begin by asking you just a very simple question What does advocacy mean to you?
MR: So when I think of advocacy, I think of purpose. I think of being passionate around that purpose and doing work that supports your purpose. And so I, as a designer through holyCHIC, I have three core advocacies that I worked towards. One is to advocate for South Asian artisans through their embroidery through their craftsmanship. The second is sustainability, upcycling, repurposing old fabrics to create new. And, third is at being an advocate for women. I’m a woman. We’re a women-led brand, and the garments that we create are made for women to make them feel powerful, make them feel strong.
RG: I love everything about what you just said, then I have to ask you. You know, rolling off from that. Why is advocacy important to you?
MR: You know what it comes down to for me is that when you have something that you’re working towards, I feel like advocacy for me has almost been like my anchor and my foundation.
Advocacy for me has almost been like my anchor and my foundation. So when I’m in the world [and] I’m making a decision, whether it’s a personal decision or a professional decision, having advocacy and having beliefs that you are rooted by, helps make those decisions easier to make because you have clarity.. You understand what you’re coming back to and what’s kind of driving all the work that you do each and every day.
RG: Absolutely. And I want to know Megha, can you share your personal advocacy philosophy because everything that you’ve said so far, it just screams a personal connection to it.
MR: It’s about owning who you are at the end of the day for me and embracing things that make you unique. And if I think about some of the people that may be listening to this interview or reading it, we may share similarities. I’m a daughter of immigrants. My family moved here many, many years ago and left everything that they knew behind to give me a better life. And when you grow up in a South Asian household, no matter what type of South Asian life you come from, values, traditions, beliefs, it’s a beautiful thing. But when you get into the real world growing up in America, you’re exposed to a whole different world completely conflicting world.
And for me, growing up, it was definitely challenging to do that because I wanted to wear a nose ring. I had long hair. I didn’t look like everybody else when I was going to school and out in the public. And it’s hard. And I think in today’s generation, it’s even harder because you have social media. You have all these different outlets where you can say whatever you want to say and I can only imagine what it’s like today. But for me, fashion became an outlet. And I would find myself — while I was trying to live with these dual identities of who I was as a person — found myself going into my mom’s closet and my closet and creating pieces that spoke to me. So when I went out into the real world, I was like, ‘This is who I am as a person. I have dual identities. I’m different, I’m unique, and this is kind of my way to show the world that’ And that’s how fashion kind of became like my expression of who I was.
RG: Absolutely. Can you share with me and our community here, Megha, why it’s so important for people to incorporate a sense of advocacy into their lives? I mean, with some people, it’s personal, others it’s professional, the yet, for others it’s spiritual. And for some of us, it’s all of the above. I feel that you’ve answered that question, but let’s encapsulate it.
MR: I think that in today’s day and age, we are exposed to a lot. Sometimes it’s like overt overstimulation, too much information. And whether you’re making a decision in your personal life or in your professional life, it makes it easier to make decisions when you have a root and a cause and a belief and purpose. And for me, that’s what advocacy is like. I have things that are very important to me as a mother, as a business owner, there are values that I have and when I am, when I am presented with different opportunities, if it’s not aligned, if it doesn’t help me achieve my goals, it makes that decision easier to make. And so I feel like that’s what it is. It really gives you an anchor and a direction to kind of go as you navigate through life and make decisions, no matter what they are.
Advocacy for me has almost been like my anchor and my foundation. So when I’m in the world [and] I’m making a decision, whether it’s a personal decision or a professional decision, having advocacy and having beliefs that you are rooted by, helps make those decisions easier to make because you have clarity.
RG: Absolutely. And you know, what’s really interesting is that along with advocacy comes slacktivism, the notion that by creating or tweeting a hashtag, a person is giving this idea that they are contributing to the cause with the hashtag? What’s your personal philosophy around paying lip service, so to speak? Because that’s what really we’re talking about here rather than actioning the cause. What are the pros and cons in your opinion?
MR: That’s a great question. I think I think there are pros and cons to it, for sure. And I think the pros are that you amplify a voice, OK, if somebody is out there and they have strong beliefs about a cause and they’re out there doing something about it. You buy resharing, by posting, by tweeting, by using a hashtag. You are amplifying that voice. And I think what we’ve seen, especially in recent times, is that it works. It really does work right when you’re out there and you’ve got all these people speaking so passionately about a cause, it makes a difference. And when you see that difference and you see those results, people are going to be more inclined to doing it more and more. I think the con is you can kind of get caught doing that for the rest of your life and you’re just behind a computer, you’re behind a phone, you’re just putting up hashtags. Sometimes, maybe you may not know enough about a topic or enough about something, and it just becomes like a shortcut and an easy way to kind of join forces behind a cause versus actually going out and doing something.
RG: Absolutely! I’d love for you to share a challenge that stands out to you that you’ve had to overcome when it comes to voicing your support for a cause you believe in. I mean, it could be a cause you believe in. It could also be something that you’ve supported.
MR: Can I talk to fashion here a bit about my brand?
MR: A challenge I feel like I had to overcome as a South Asian designer is that South Asian fashion, for some reason, is sometimes categorized into formal wear. I think when people think about South Asian fashion, it’s ‘oh, I need an outfit for a wedding’ or ‘Diwali is coming up, what am I wearing?’ And as a designer being brought up in America, I’m really trying to fuze East and West. That’s been a challenge for me to show people that you don’t have to have an occasion to wear South Asian garments and you can wear it anywhere. We’ve created graphic T-shirts. We’ve created bags like bags made out of saris. And really, the idea here is that you can show off your pride and your culture on the daily. It’s not limited to one specific type of occasion. So I would say that was my biggest challenge, at least starting out. There’s a lot of preconceived notions about South Asian fashion, and I really am looking to redefine what it is.
RG: We need that. I mean, it’s just so much richness in our culture and our heritage, in our expression. Both, historically and in the life that we live today in North America. So I’m super excited to see how your journey continues on. And I want to close off by asking you, with all that you’ve seen and experienced, what advice would you give to everyone watching, listening or reading this who want to be more proactive in a cause that they believe in, but they actually need to kind of get up and action it? What advice would you give because you’ve done it?
MR: I’d say is that no matter what you do, there will always be a series of excuses and roadblocks and challenges that come along with it. I’m a woman, I’m a woman of colour. I’m a wife, I’m a mother of two kids. And prior to me, being full time with holiCHIC I also had a corporate job and juggling a job for seven years while building a brand. And so, you know, the brand is one thing, but I think what’s happened. It’s become more of like an inspiration for women where I want to show all women that you can accomplish your professional goals and your personal goals. at the same time. You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. And is part of my journey that I want to motivate, inspire women to go after things that make them happy. Because, you know, I was able to quit my job after seven years of doing this while raising a family. I was able to leave my corporate job go full time with something I’m so passionate about. And that, to me, is is a form of success, and I really want women to understand that it is. You can have it all. It is possible. You can do it.
RG: Amen to that, sweetheart. I completely agree with you. I am an advocate also in the same kind of realm that you are. So I completely get it. And I really hope that everyone that you know is watching, listening and reading this just, you know, takes a moment to sit with this whole idea of if they’re not actioning what they believe in, then it’s not really helping anyone beyond their life, either. So and I think that’s a big part of what advocacy is about is to kind of create that community and that voice of amplification behind what it is that you stand for and what you want to kind of push out there in the world to make it a better world for all of us. Mega. I absolutely adore you. Thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your insights with our global community. And congratulations again, and I really, really sincerely wish you much success. I really, really love everything that you do and what you stand for. Kudos to you.
MR: Appreciate it, Raj. Thank you.
Photos Courtesy Of Megha Rao