At BrilliantRead Media, it is our constant endeavour to identify and share some of the unique and compelling stories from the startup ecosystem. As part of this, we invited Divya Bakshi for an interview with BrilliantRead Media. She is an Entrepreneur, Leader, Style Coach, Mentor, Consultant, Trainer, TEDx Speaker and Influencer. Divya is a Pune-based fashion and corporate stylist, a soft-skills trainer and an image consultant. She consults on image, appearance, goal, success, style, beauty, pageant, dressing, fashion, coaching, soft skills, & social styling. She works with homemakers & professionals and across age groups.
Divya is the Founder & Director of Persona with Dee 2.0. Through her venture, she wants to spread her passion for styling. She believes that styling is an impeccable art and with the three Rs at our side; Revamp, Recreate and Rediscover. Let’s learn more about her background, her inspiring journey so far and her advice for our growing community!
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Divya:
Could you talk us through your background and your journey, please? Also, where did the unique idea to start something like this come from?
I grew up in an army home with a dad who has served as the President’s bodyguard enabled me as the product of a home and social setting where it was expected of everyone to be well-turned out with freshly ironed clothes at all times.
From parties within the army circle to closely watching dignitaries from different walks of life, dressing for the occasion-formal or informal- was just the starting point of every interaction.”
Both mummy and daddy were always impeccably turned out and they made sure we kids were too, It wasn’t something frivolous, it was a respect and dignity you accorded yourself as well as the others around you and hence you dressed accordingly.
This inherent understanding and notion of style were further strengthened as I went on to fly for Kuwait Airways, an airline with the most stringent requirements of attire, turn out and hospitality. Yes, that’s where I worked for around 10 years. It was a wonderful place to work and learn about corporate ethics, styling and grooming.
Just when I thoroughly enjoyed the work, life took over. Marriage to a Merchant Navy officer, pregnancy and motherhood, required a sabbatical. Even as I brought up Danika (10) and Nivika (3), I realised that I could put my understanding of clothes, style, social etiquette and exposure to good use. That’s how Persona with Dee 2.0 took seed.
You see – we are living in a world where appearances count. Fashion is important and people are increasingly waking up to the importance of keeping fit-from yoga, to gym to walking or taking up a sport, age is just a number. The idea is to look and feel your best whether you are a high-flying corporate professional and entrepreneur, a socialite or a homemaker and mother attending coffee mornings at your children’s school.”
And thus, I definitely knew this is what I was meant to do. “My passion for fashion and style would now inspire others. It is my vision and mission to help people in their affirmations, work with them and help put their absolute best version of themselves out there. This gives me immense joy.
Looking good and dressing appropriately is for everyone. Whatever you do, whoever you are, our job is to ensure we stock your cupboard intelligently and within the budget given to us.
How do you help your clients choose the perfect wardrobe combinations? What are the key offerings?
My team does a recce call to understand our clients, aspirations, concerns and lifestyle. “If we are going to help them take such a personal decision, for style is very niche and individualistic, we need to know who they are and what makes them tick. Even two professionals at the same age and stage of their life are essentially different people with disparate requirements-and we respect that,”
Next, they do a gap analysis of the person’s wardrobe to look at what they already own. “The idea is to get the max out of what the person already owns and not waste money unnecessarily or simply add more items to their wardrobe. Next, we decide on a budget and either help them source what they are looking for or simply shop for them ourselves,” she says. “Many a time there is something lying in the corner of their cupboard which is perfectly wearable, but they are either tired of it, or do not realize its potential. Either we help them tweak it to their taste or team it up with different accessories.”
None of this is a waste of time and money. On the contrary, my work saves both of these precious resources,. “Our expertise and insight ensure that you put together clothes and accessories that suit your body type, persona and lifestyle; stuff you are likely to use and enjoy wearing.”
After all, there’s no shortage of expensive items in the stores. “But many a time one ends up making really expensive gaffes. Buying a branded outfit just because it’s in vogue, but something that doesn’t sit well with one’s personality, is a classic mistake.
When you wear something, what is of essence is not the cost or where it came from but how well it suits you, whether or not it enhances your personality. A simple cotton salwar suit from a flea market could look far better than designer wears from a boutique-it totally depends on how well the colour and cut go with the person wearing them.
“It is a challenge and a privilege to work with any age, gender body shape, height or size! I believe anyone of any dimension can present themselves well with proper help. They just have to know how.”
Why should people opt for Image Consultancy? What are some of the Myths versus facts in the world of image consultancy and styling?
The numero uno myth when it comes to image building and styling is the over-confidence that if one is born beautiful or handsome, one can always look good and there’s no need to do more. “You have to learn how to dress for the occasion and know what suits you and the social setting. This is an arena where most people need a little instruction. Because even if you are the best-looking and fittest person around, an ill-fitting or poorly chosen outfit can bring down your personality,” she explains. “On the contrary, an average-looking person can hands down steal the show just by being appropriately attired and carrying themselves well.”
The other myth is that this is only for women. “That’s not true at all. Men need to be styled too. And I am glad to say that an increasing number of serious professionals are waking up to this, We make sure that the clothes and accessories we choose for them are comfortable, convenient and suitable to their work conditions and climate.”
The third myth is that getting professional styling will blow a hole in one’s pocket. “As I said before, shopping endlessly is far more wasteful,” she says wryly.
So be it helping a senior corporate executive in choosing a well-cut, classic blazer to source a colourful cotton saree and putting it together with a crop top, Divya takes her clients through the nuts and bolts of social dressing as well as an education on what is likely to work for them.
“Many a time we have clients who are fundamentally stylish and well-versed on the topic of what works for them. But as people change and evolve, something that worked well 2 years ago, may not, in the present-day milieu. So, we gently suggest they could try something different.
Some are willing to trust us and go the distance; others take baby steps. They’ll change an accessory here, a shoe there and a shirt there. Little by little they see our point,” she smiles.
Clothes are just half the story. We also conduct little sessions on fitness and social etiquette drawing from my experience in the airline world. “A few insights here and there definitely help enhance the person’s persona,”
“Image consultancy and styling go beyond just dressing as per the occasion in a way that suits your personality. It is about feeling good about yourself in a most fundamental way which is bound to yield positive results at work and within your social spaces as well.”
How does a perfect wardrobe ought to look like?
“A blend of the classic and contemporary; a reflection of one’s roots as well as an embracing of an increasingly global world, A good wardrobe will reflect all this and more. It just needs to be a thoughtfully chosen one, not necessarily an extensive one.”
So, from a classic linen shirt in pastel to a white/black shirt in silk or satin, well-cut trousers and classic blue jeans, each outfit needs to be there for a reason and not just because one can afford it. “Also, certain classic concepts can and should be tweaked. Take, for instance, the eternal favourite called the LBD or the Little Black Dress.
You can wear a longer or altered version of it that suits your body type,” she says. “Being Indians, we have a proud and beautiful textile legacy to choose from. So go ahead and flaunt that vintage saree you inherited from mom or wear that handloom shawl with a neutral Western outfit. There’s no end to the creativity and sheer joy of it. I am here to show you how to mix colour and pattern to establish a sense of individuality and even authority.”
Along with that, we would also help you choose makeup and hairstyles that suit your position, work and personality. “You could have the best outfit, but the wrong hairstyle could run it all. Similarly, when it comes to makeup, it is extremely specific to climate, skin type, age, work and personality. The good news is that with a little time and care and attention, you can pick up what works for you and take it from there.”
For the men, I would recommend basic belts and comfortable, well-cut shoes in blue, black and brown. “Suits are important yes, but so are khakis and cargoes. Casual can be chic too,”
Our clients range from corporates to homemakers, middle-aged executives to young millennials. “Many a time it so happens that a lady comes to me in quest of a makeover. What we accomplish with her is so inspiring that even her husband says: can you do something for me too?”
How do you keep going despite the challenges? What’s the secret for your work and life balance?
My work schedule is arranged around my two growing-up girls. While time and experience have taught me how to manage both-especially with a husband who’s travelling extensively-my work gives me the joy, energy and exuberance to go out there, day after day and make the world a beautiful place.
How you feel is how you look, and you look as you feel. This is a fundamental truth that has been proven time and again. When you go out looking and feeling your best, it will empower you and add that extra punch to whatever you take on. Personally, I am thrilled to help Revamp, Rediscover and Recreate your persona.”
What’s the way forward? Any last piece of advice?
To spread good taste far and wide, irrespective of the budget.
Eyes may be the window to one’s soul, but clothes are the window to one’s most defining characteristic- personality!”
My company Persona with Dee 2.0 is here to lift your style to unmatched heights and help you let your truest personality shine through to the world. A scroll through my Instagram page will show you that she has it all covered!