Nov 27, 2020 | 24:25

Episode 1: Malini Agarwal’s Journey
#TOTHEMOON

Uninterrupted is a platform that was merely curated with one goal, to build a community: a familiar thread to connect with like-minded people. Our first conversation is with Malini Agarwal, the force behind everyone's favourite online destination, Miss Malini. She’s a digital influencer and entrepreneur running a multimillion-dollar business, the best selling author, a TV host, a storyteller, a celebrity confidant, a fighter breaking social stigmas. In a candid chat with our host, Samriddhie Taneja she talks about various topics ranging from social media to building a community. Read more below to find out more.

How did your blazing love affair with social media start in the first place?

It all happened a little bit by accident. So to give you some context, I moved to Bombay in the year 2000. And I'm from the pre-Facebook era, people can't imagine a world without Facebook or social media that began then. And I think my first brush with social media really happened because of my radio show because people were starting to use social media to promote different things that they want, especially media personalities. So, I started a Twitter account back in 2009. And that was probably the first thing I had. And Facebook was much more of a social platform at that time when you just added your friends, friends, and family and looked at pictures of each other. So, I've seen a huge evolution over the last decade.

How has your journey been from where you started to where you are today especially with social media?
I actually started off as a hobby blogger in 2008 with a full-time job. I started to blog more like a personal diary when I started the business. It wasn't just a business, it was just my place to share my content and things I like to do. I didn't have enough space to write about everything that I experienced. So, that's why I started the blog. In the next few years, it kind of evolved into more of a digital magazine and space where you can also promote your content online. And that's where the evolution continues. I think that if I look back now, I can see a very clear path that went on, but I had no idea it was going to grow into such a huge industry.

What's your take on the concept of influencer marketing and how it's evolved today. From a brand's perspective, where should the line be drawn with influencer marketing?
From a brand perspective, at MissMalini, we run our own influencer practice called Ignite so that we always focus on the work of creators. If I look, from my perspective, our creative process is always going to put all efforts into tracking the right creative and concepts for the brand. And then think about the creators to bring on board. I think that's really the key for all brands. So, I think it's really important to find a good demographic fit for your brand. To answer your question, yes, I think that there is a line to draw, I don't think you can do a one size fits all across all creators and do the same campaign. Then there's no point using creators because it's all about their individuality that made them popular, to begin with.

What was it that drew you to the idea of building a community like girl tribe in the first place?

I thought I would start a group and I was thinking about what it should be about. It could be Bollywood, or fashion or lifestyle, or beauty. When I thought about what is the group wouldn't be the most valuable source and I think it's about creating a community and a safe space for people to have conversations. I think it's something that I've seen now in hindsight, that it's a safe space to be yourself, and about the kindness of strangers, which is usually not something that people associate with social media. And I love social media. But I see that it's become quite a toxic place in some places, and it's become quite fatiguing to see everybody's curation of their perfect lives. So, the whole purpose of social media got lost somewhere along the way, which was to make authentic connections with other people on a scale that's not otherwise humanly possible. So, I wanted to bring that back.

What is the ignore no more movement?
Ignore no more is an initiative that will create a safe space for women to connect. We extended that out into why is social media such a toxic place for women, very often, it's because they get all these horrible messages. And we've been told for so long to just ignore it, that they're just looking for attention, and they'll go away, but they haven't. And the truth of the matter is, with the pandemic, we're living our lives online, so much more. And when also many more of these messages were dealing with a lot more, you're not really switching off. So I wanted to dig deep and think, how do we fix this problem before it gets out of hand. We're looking at a physical pandemic, but we're not looking at the social media pandemic of negativity that's also surrounding us and affecting every person in the world.

How do you differentiate the content pieces that come out on Miss Malini? And if you were to give any advice to say all other entrepreneurs, people in content, marketing, etc what would it be.
There's a great concept of Ikigai that I love, it's a Japanese concept that says at the centre of four questions is your answer. And it's what can I do? What do I love to do? What am I good at? And what can I be paid to do? But the fourth piece, I think, is the most important, which is what does the world need? And I think the content creators and the brands that are having the most impact today are the ones who are addressing that question. Because everyone is globally dealing with the same issue of the pandemic, they're having a lot of the same sort of issues that they're dealing with a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress, a lot of fear. loneliness and social media tend to be that place that people gravitate towards. So, what are they going to consume? So sure, a lot of them are going to consume content, which is entertaining, but there's a lot of people turning to social media on the internet, to revive or sort of reset and realign their business goals.

How do you balance your creative process? Where do you seek inspiration from?
I think it's everywhere. I think I find the greatest inspiration in conversations and I'm talking to someone, an idea will strike me. I tend to be a little unorthodox in my strategy, I don't spend too much time mulling over it, I think about something, I just go ahead and do it. I started the girl tribe overnight. As a Facebook group, we started more and more campaigns in a similar way we launched the MissMalini trending desk, because I had a great conversation with Karishma who runs this, trending desk for me, so for me, it's really been about rapid action.

What is your number one tip to maintain your work-life balance?
So I don't call it work-life balance, I call it work-life integration, because my work and my, personal life blend in many ways.
 If you could rip off one social stigma today, which one would that be?
 I think it would be this immediate suspicion that women face whenever they report sexual harassment, on or offline, people always wonder, did they ask for it? How are they dressed? Where were they? What were they doing? I think we need to get rid of that.

If you were to describe your ideal productive day in three words, what would that include?
Efficient multitasking, being inspired, and feeling satisfied.

What are your top three makeup beauty brands homegrown or otherwise, that you swear by?
There's a brand called Organic Riot. It's a homegrown organic and cruelty-free brand that everybody cares about the ingredients in the products. There's Sukin, which is a natural and legal vegan brand from Australia, and is great for skin types and Maybelline because it's affordable, trendy, long-lasting, and I use a lot of kajal.

If you could wear one designer for the rest of your life. Who would that be?
Gaurav Gupta, because his clothes are so contemporary, and they have a lot of movement and Mayyur Girotra for Indian because I think they just really get my vibe and I really love it.



To catch the full candid podcast tune into Uninterrupted by clicking here! 

Episode 1: Malini Agarwal’s Journey #TOTHEMOON