17 Badass South Asian Entrepreneurs Talk About Diversity, Style, and Starting a Business

Stella Simona of Haati Chai Jewelry and Amarilo Jewelry

Being an Indian woman in fashion, I’ve understood a lot over the years about what the effects that a lack of representation in media can have on a young person growing up. It’s important to see diversity across all platforms, which is why I thought it was about time to highlight the incredible South Asian women behind these amazing brands we can all appreciate and support.

Growing up, I didn’t really see anyone like myself in magazines, billboards, or on TV — I quickly learned that this is a sentiment felt deeply among many of the women I spoke to.

“Just because we are all South Asian doesn’t mean we are going to be passionate about the same career paths. There’s, unfortunately, a lot of pressure for many of us to follow a path that is more ‘secure’ or ‘sophisticated’ from our communities and families. At the end of the day, we all need to do what is right for us. Representation matters. Being a South Asian in the fashion and beauty space allows me to pave the path for those after me. It allows consumers to finally see products and campaigns that speak to them and their features,” said model and Haati Chai Jewelry and Amarilo Jewelry designer Stella Simone.

I chatted with Aparna Avasarala who created the fashion brand Denimrush, a label that creates one-of-a-kind, tie-dye pieces and the brains behind the beauty brand Live Tinted Deepica Mutyala. I even talked to Payal Kadakia Pujji, who created the multimillion-dollar company ClassPass. There’s a little bit of something for everyone — What’s not to admire about a group of passionate women building an impressive lineup of companies?

When it came to what she wishes she knew earlier before starting ClassPass, Payal Kadakia Pujji revealed, “Early on, when I was fundraising for ClassPass, most of the investors were men. Most of the founders they funded were men. I looked different, I was different, but I embraced being different. My background equipped me with a unique perspective and allowed me the grace to be comfortable while being different. I’ve learned my differences were what truly made me unique.”

Ahead you can read more of my interview with these empowering women. We discussed a variety of topics from what style means to them to the best career advice they’ve received. Keep reading to see all of the interviews ahead and prepare to be inspired.

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