Siddhie Mhambre: "IFA Paris is one of the best fashion and luxury institutes in the world!"
Mumbai born Siddhie Mhambre made her dreams come true: becoming an actress – she has become a celebrity in India – as well as getting involved in the fashion industry. She also co-founded the animation studio 88 Pictures, which acquired a key project from Dreamworks TV broadcasted on Netflix.
Michel Temman: Aviation, service, fashion, entertainment… You are experienced in an impressive range of fields. But first: you were born in Mumbai. What about your childhood and adolescence?
Siddhie Mhambre: I had a “girl in the city” kind of a life. I was a very curious child, asking lots of questions. I was already a dreamer and my growing years were spent in building aspirations of all the things I wanted to do that I grew up watching. I still remember my mom dressing me like a princess on all my birthdays as a kid. She always loved to see me dressed well, she always had an exclusive taste in choosing my outfits and now, when I recall they were genuinely fantastic. I guess that left a mark on me to be on the right side of fashion and style. As a kid I also used to stand in front of mirror and mimic the scenes from the movies, so now I’m fearless up on the stage while performing, so I believe acting and my liking for fashion was developed during my childhood days itself. Years later, I was lucky to have developed this hobby as a part of my profession. Eventually, penchant for a good life and ambitious careers goals kept me going from one place to another.
M.T.: After graduating from Saint-Anne high-school for girls in Mumbai, you entered Sophia College to study fashion and apparel design. You had already a passion for fashion at that time?
Siddhie Mhambre: I grew up in a posh suburban area of Mumbai called South Mumbai. Lifestyle in that part of Mumbai was pretty elite. As a kid, I used to watch and admire grown-ups in parties and get together with those who were always well dressed. I did not realize it was about fashion then, but I always thought rich people wear good clothes. All I wanted was to grow up quickly and dress like them. During my college days, I happened to get an offer for modeling for a well-known brand’s fashion show. My photos with their costumes were put on big hoardings in the city. I received lots of compliments and offers after that. That was my very first exposure to the world of fashion, glamour and style. It also got me thinking about what goes into designing and making such beautiful fashionable clothing. That indirectly and unknowingly started influencing my decision towards studying fashion. My main aim back then was to study fashion and design dresses for myself to always be in vogue!
M.T.: Later, in 2014, after graduating from the University of Mumbai, you joined IFA Paris and chose our MBA in Luxury Brand Management. How valuable was it?
Siddhie Mhambre: The worlds of fashion and luxury always fascinated me! As an actress, I was using all kind of brands and the latest fashion. Luxury foreign brands were still limited in India and people like me were going far to spend extra dollars to get them. I took a break from my acting and I wanted to study and understand the fashion world better and from a global perspective - so that I could use that knowledge to build something for the Indian market. That propelled me to join IFA Paris and understand the business of fashion and luxury from one of the best institutes in the world! IFA Paris’ MBA in Luxury Brand Management course gave me a well-rounded perspective and experience with their modules in Shanghai, Paris and Bangkok. Providing closer exposure to the luxury brands, different cultures, meeting people from various parts of the world was a great learning experience. One of those experiences, I could quickly recall was our visit to the Louis Vuitton House in Paris. Who in the world would imagine to visit this place, but me! As a part of my graduation project, I worked on a thesis labelled Luxury Says - Namaste India that involved an in-depth study of luxury brands’ presences in India. All this was with plans to enter the business world of luxury and fashion in India sooner rather than later.
M.T.: Soon after, you joined the aviation industry, why? Why were you also attracted by this sector? What about your experiences at Qatar Airways and Kingfisher Airlines? Specifically, what did you learn?
Siddhie Mhambre: An aviation career was a part of my dream to travel the world, study different cultures, experience different lifestyles and trends. Straight out of college, I got into aviation as my first professional assignment. I feel the aviation experience with a well-known brand can really help develop one’s personality, sophistication and makes you a world citizen. I truly feel I was exposed to and groomed to a very good international experience during my aviation career that kept helping me in my career at a later stage. I believe the fundamentals learnt from a highly demanding job like that are playing a vital role in my profession even today.
M.T.: But you’re incredible because then, during your official career, you also did acting. You were an independent actress for six years, is it right? What about this time?
Siddhie Mhambre: Acting was a happy accident but a hidden dream that had to come true! Like I said, as a kid I used to mimic my favourite actress scenes from the movies. I used to participate in a lot of dramas and skits at school and college level. Acting in front of the audience or a camera came very naturally to me. Besides I had started modeling for fashion shows, print ads and commercials. One day, on a flight during my aviation days, one movie director happened to approach me for a role and the rest is history! Acting was always a hobby and passion for me so I chose to take on just a very few assignments that appealed to me. I went on to act in a few movies, several music videos and commercials. The best part of that phase was that I could get my hands on the latest trends and fashion and make it part of my wardrobe. I was earning well and spending to relive my childhood hobby of always getting better dressed. Actresses’ lives can be very challenging when it comes to fashion in public appearances as the media are always chasing you. One has to be up to date with the latest trends and the wardrobe needs to be ever changing and replenishing. You can’t really repeat a costume in public you have worn even only once, so you can imagine the size of the wardrobe!
M.T.: Then, mid-2016, you set up your company with your husband, the animation studio 88 Pictures. What an adventure!
Siddhie Mhambre: Given my background in the creative space and with the business knowledge gathered thanks to IFA Paris, I co-founded an animation studio in August 2016 called 88 Pictures (EightyEight Pictures Media & Entertainment Pvt. Ltd) together with my husband in Mumbai. Our studio grabbed Series A funding and a prestigious project called Trollhunters from Dreamworks Television that premiered on Netflix - the show has won several awards at the international level (Annie, Emmy) and explains the expertise level of the studio. In fact, our studio can brag about having some of the best creative talents in the Indian animation industry. I manage the creative part of the business in 88 Pictures and oversee the day to day operations of the studio. 88 Pictures’ IP division that I spearhead is focused on developing interesting concepts in the kid’s animation genre. We plan to expand to other genres in the near future. Talking about the focus of the initiative, our goal is to cast a wider net with differentiated offerings to capture the minds of the worldwide audience. We are exploring a few animation based IPs with interesting perspectives. The new age content media is another engaging market that we will engage in the coming months.
M.T.: What about today’s Indian creative scene, in fashion and arts? How do you see the scene evolving?
Siddhie Mhambre: I did a lot of study and research for my graduation project on the Indian market and it was fascinating to see how the fashion and luxury markets here have changed over the last few years. I would really recommend anyone who wants to understand this market, to read my graduation thesis. I think there are significant challenges some of the big brands face in India given the varied taste of Indian consumers. With so much diversity in ethnicity, regions, social status and purchasing power, it makes it a complex yet attractive market. The next five years are going to be very interesting in the context of the country’s economic development with a significant rise in aspiring customers and increase in spending power. India is a very diverse and complex market but its evolving very fast. I want to create and offer something unique and leave a mark of my own. I call it Glocal, from global to local. That’s my theme and I want to build a product that’s around global trends, style, aesthetics and craftsmanship, but for the local consumers!
M.T.: What is your next project? The rumour says that you intend to build a premium brand for women?
Siddhie Mhambre: Luxury and fashion is my first love. Creativity comes naturally to me. Now that the animation business has taken a start, it’s time to get back to doing something that I have learned from IFA Paris and what I have experienced as an actress, and that is fashion. Post IFA Paris, I have been working on a business plan to create a niche premium product for the Indian market. I am into the research phase and will have an executable plan ready in the next few months. I can’t divulge much about what I am trying to build but it’s definitely worth another interview.
To learn more about the program pursued by Siddhie, please visit: MBA in Luxury Brand Management at IFA Paris