New York City-born Megha Rao is a designer, curator, and former model. With her contemporary South Asian fashion line holiCHIC, Rao is helping women build their confidence through colorful, flowing dresses and vibrant accessories. "The name, much like the collection, symbolizes a fresh perspective. The word 'Holi' is taken from the exuberant spring festival symbolizing color and love. When paired with 'Chic' it creates a new standard of modern opulence for conventional Indian fashion," holiCHIC's website explains.
Rao's fresh designs are resonating with women on social media and beyond: Her Instagram account already has more than 60,000 followers, and counting. Despite having a very full plate, this busy CEO and mother of two still makes time for friends and family. She chatted with SEEMA recently to offer some insight into her inspiring career path — and to offer some advice on how we can make the world a more inclusive, loving place.
"I look to make the things I can’t find in my closet or in a store. Find the empty space. That’s what will help not only grow your brand but sustain it." — Megha Rao
Briefly describe what you do professionally
I’m the founder and designer behind holiCHIC, a contemporary fashion label based in NY.
How did you become interested in your career path?
Growing up I would visit India every summer to visit my grandma. I grew extremely fond of our culture — the music, food, movies, and fashion. In my twenties I took part in a local pageant and won the runner-up title. This brought the opportunity to walk the runway for India’s top designers. This experience amplified my love for South Asian fashion and led me to one day start my own label.
Where did you grow up? Was your family influential in your studies or were you more independent?
I grew up in Queens, NY. I was an average student growing up and although my parents were influential, they never pressured me to work towards a certain career path. They let me figure it out myself and I’m grateful for this every day.
Did you have a mentor? How did this individual help you?
holiCHIC has allowed me to meet some incredible people. Early on, one of our very first supporters was Payal Kadakia. She has been a mentor figure to me, always providing honest candid feedback and experiences. She is someone I admire a lot.
What inspires your career today? What's your mission or vision?
I look to make the things I can’t find in my closet or in a store. Unique, Indo-western designs that inspire women. When people wear my designs I want them to feel unstoppable, confident, chic.
What is your advice to young people, girls in particular, who might have an interest in pursuing a career in your sector?
There is a new label popping up every day. Find the empty space. That's what will help not only grow your brand but sustain it.
How do you set professional goals?
I set targets and goals every year. I look for ways to “compete” and outdo my success from the prior year.
"I knew nothing about running a company when I started. I made mistakes and had many opportunities to quit. What worked for me was consistency. Regardless of what was going on, I just kept going and kept moving forward." — Megha Rao
Were there barriers you had to overcome in what sometimes might be a male-dominated work environment?
Like many other businesses, mine has had highs and lows. I knew nothing about running a company when I started. I made mistakes and had many opportunities to quit. What worked for me was consistency. Regardless of what was going on, I just kept going and kept moving forward. Today, I couldn’t be more proud of where this company is and of my team who has been a vital part of our success
What's on your to-do list professionally in the coming year?
Our ABCD collection, for example, resonated extremely well with our followers. It gave me a clear understanding of what our audience craves most and my goal is to create more of that this year! (Just different and better!)
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
There is so much I would change if I could. If there is one thing this year has taught us, it’s that humanity is everything. Nothing is more important and valuable than human life. Period. There is so much pain, loss, and negativity in the world today. Take out the politics. At the end of the day we are all equal human beings. We didn’t come into this world born with an agenda, with a “side,” with hate. I’d love to live in a world that feels like a community: a world of empathy, where we genuinely care and respect one another.
Life is short. No year has proven this to be more true than this one. Love, spread joy, be kind, and help one another.
Tell us about your personal life: family, friends, hobbies? How do you create a work/life balance?
I’m a mom of two. My husband and I are both only children and very close to our families. The only reason I’m able to have some type of balance is because of the support of my husband and family. They’ve been an incredible help since day one.
In closing, what's your favorite food? Favorite midnight snack? Favorite travel hotspot?
Fave food: Mexican! Fave midnight snack: Oreos! Fave travel hotspot: Miami!
Follow @seemanetwork on Instagram to catch her Megha Rao and holiCHIC's #TakeoverTuesday this Tuesday, June 9.