Have You Met Rhea?
GETTING TO KNOW RHEA
Rhea’s name popped up thrice in our debut issue. every second fashion blogger we spoke to, when asked who is their favourite in the business, mentioned her name. That is when we knew who our next cover girl will be. When we told her that we are a new magazine, looking
to change how a typical magazine operates, she said she loved our enthusiasm and felt our passion. The team met, shot, parted; but we were left wanting to know more. So, how do we write a story on someone you don’t know? over to Rhea Gupte!
“As a kid, my parents ingrained one poignant thought into my head: ‘Choose a career which makes you happy to wake up and go to work every single day.’ Just my luck that this message wasn’t about accumulating massive amounts of wealth, having a so-called respectable job to meet the confines of the ‘society’ we live in or aping the road to security with an engineering or medical degree, thus forming a formidable career en-route the path often taken. No. It was about the pursuit for happiness. Consciously or subconsciously, this message has ever since guided every action and decision I took in my life. Happiness may be a fleeting state of mind often experienced in good company, while experiencing an interesting piece of media or film, or on those special days when the sun shines and everything is golden within. It may be difficult to sustain and thus complicated to find in a career, the idea of which is based on permanence and longevity. The quest is to find what brings happiness and how does one sustain it?
At several occasions, we refuse to give ourselves the time to find our interests, search our minds and actually come up with something we love to do. The world usually makes us believe that we are in a race, in which we need to finish first, sprinting onto becoming a young prodigy, and if that doesn’t shape up, be a part of the long distance marathon, always on track, always following in footsteps of the ones leading. However, when one steps aside on the green grass, they may realise that the race doesn’t need them and they don’t need it either. It is only then that we can think devoid of comparison, devoid of a stop watch, and actually analyse our minds, our interests and hobbies. The only way to know what one likes to do is by doing a lot of things. The process is simple: omit the ones which aren’t suited and persevere for the ones which come closest to being a passion. For me, these interests have always been in the creative field. I did a year long course in animation right after my tenth standard, something I still feel I will someday go back to; besides balancing junior college and my alternate career in dance and part time modelling. I wrote poems since I was six, the kind of gibberish a six year old writes, you know, summer flowers and rainy days, but that got me interested in writing and journalism at a later stage. Fashion was a side interest. Mostly spewed from my outlook of the incredible freedom it gave everybody to express themselves, alongside stories and skills of master couturiers creating art in their bedrooms aged eighteen or visionaries revolutionising the norms of dressing by adding their unexpected creations to a hierarchy of strict rules. Coming from these thoughts, fashion was never about blatant consumerism, shopping at the drop of a hat or spending ALL my money on a branded bag. The art of dressing seems so far away from the trend talk, extreme buying tendencies and unnecessary goal to have the latest, the best, or the trendiest. Individuality takes the back seat and is replaced by hordes of unwanted opinions, so-called expert advise and the unfortunate transformation into a clone of whatever is ‘in’ or current. Unfortunate, if the decision and aesthetic did not stem from one’s own personality but through somebody else’s. To me, fashion is a story-teller, an artist, a creative process. When I started FUSS, this was all I cared about. Since I was studying for a degree in design after junior college, it seemed like an appropriate way to document my college projects and thoughts onto an online space. Till date, I look at it as an online portfolio and not as a monetised blog. Although I did partake in promotional projects for brands initially, I changed my business model consciously, to stop making money from the blog and my social media. The former went against several of my ideologies about shopping consciously and not shopping at all, while the latter now allows me to have an honest voice without the ulterior motive of promoting a product or service for which I have been paid. I thus went back to using FUSS as a personal portfolio, putting up several personal projects alongside commissioned work, wherein I was hired as a creative director, photographer, stylist, model or consultant, at times a combination of the lot. When clients understood that work I created for them may never go up on FUSS, several of them still wanted to work with me, purely for my skills and the type of content I create. This allowed me to be a blogger when I pleased, at my time, without any restrictions on sharing an honest opinion alongside my work process, and to play several other roles as well, which I hope to expand on as time passes. I believe that a person can be and can do more than just one thing. The answer to ‘What you want to be when you grow up?’ May have been a singular occupation to the past generation, but today, with information at our finger tips and the ability to create platforms for ourselves to show our work to the world, it seems like a redundant approach.
I changed my business model consciously to stop making money off of the blog and my social media. The former went against several of my ideologies about shopping consciously and not shopping at all, while the latter now allows me to have an honest voice without the ulterior motive of promoting a product or service for which I have been paid. I thus went back to using FUSS as a personal portfolio, putting up several personal projects alongside commissioned work, wherein I was hired as a creative director, photographer stylist etc.
BEING A BLOGGER IN THE AGE OF WHAT BLOGGING HAS BECOME ISN’T EXACTLY SUITED TO ME, AS I HAVE TILL DATE NEVER LOOKED AT MY SITE-STATS OR KEPT A FOLLOWER COUNT ACROSS PLATFORMS. TO HAVE MY SKILLS AS A CREATIVE, JUDGED BY A MERE NUMBER ON A MOBILE APP SEEMS UNFAIR NOT ONLY TO ME BUT ANY SKILLED PERSON OUT THERE. IT ALSO PERPETUATES THE THOUGHT THAT THE MORE FAMOUS THE BETTER, WHEN IN REALITY, FAME AND SKILL OFTEN TIMES HAVE LITTLE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER.
I believe that a person can be and can do more than just one thing. The answer to ‘What you want to be when you grow up?’ may have been a singular occupation to the past generation, but today, with information at our finger tips and the ability to create platforms for ourselves to show our work to the world, it seems like a redundant approach. Complimentary or even vastly different skill sets can only contribute to making an individual better suited to a job, as long as they keep learning and applying their knowledge in a creative way.
My work stems from the pure love to create, to think and execute, and to create better each time. I love creative people, I like to know how their minds work and how they think when they create. Several of my afternoons have been spent editing images with my earphones reciting a steady stream of Ted Talks, SHOWStudio interviews and other discussions. Words and thoughts feed my creativity and allow me to grow with new questions and newer answers. Through my work, I have had the opportunity of working with several creative beings, some of them my peers, who have also grown with me on this journey and a journey of their own. I feel proud and happy to see them create new work of their own and achieve success. There can hardly be a worse approach in this field than to compare yourself and your work to others. Instead, when one thinks of each of us being on our own paths of successes and failures, it is easier to improve our craft while supporting and encouraging that of others. Competing with yourself on the other hand, is the best teacher, as it leads to looking into your own flaws instead of picking those in others. Being invested in another life, unless it is in a positive way, seems like a huge waste of time. Time we often grapple to have more of.
Time is something I struggle with till date. For the growing number of possible tasks to do and hobbies to harbour, there doesn’t seem to be enough. I make do with militant to-do lists, chore schedules, time-tables and planned time out for friends and family. It is important for me to grow and improve in every aspect of life; work-wise and also in my relationships with people. When you love your work and when you love your people, it is a battle of time, with a longing for an outcome to have both sides emerge victorious. It is possible. Just needs planning, communication and those rare days of simply surrendering to an impulsive decision. Shifting to Goa was one such decision. The plan was to travel and live in a different city for one year, moving onto the next one after. Almost three years later, the salty air and languid fields of Goa seem to have me captivated. The plan is still in the making only with certain adjustments and a push back to ‘until further notice.’ Until then, I am on the quest to diversify, strengthen and improve, and as long as I am able to wake up each morning with a sense of determination, excitement, positivity and happiness, it is the closest to the right path I know of.
Competing with yourself on the other hand, is the best teacher, as it leads to looking into your own flaws instead of picking those in others. Being invested in another life, unless it is in a positive way, seems like a huge waste of time. Time we often grapple to have more of.
Photography: Runvijay Paul