THE TWENTY-FIRST INSTALMENT OF THE BELLEBOSS SERIES
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I hoped that with this series, I would find a way to appreciate the incredible South Asian women of our generation, who are breaking boundaries and paving new paths for themselves. Moreover, I would like you to take a little bit of your time to realize how incredible the women around you are.
Especially if you are a woman! I know that at least one woman’s story in my #BelleBoss series will inspire you to follow your dreams, your vision and most importantly your heart. Even if that means breaking a few rules and many societal prejudices along the way.
1)Could you please give us a little introduction to yourself?
My name is Afshan Nasseri. I am 21 . I am a student and I am also a freelance brand consultant. Basically, my field of study is called Strategic Management and I am minoring in Management. I hope to do Brand consulting, brand management or PR in the future. I was born in Montreal, Canada and my parents immigrated here- my mom is from India and my dad is from Iran. Then they moved to Boston when I was two until 18 and then I went to University in Montreal again and then I probably will be going to New York. I went to a private school until twelfth grade.
I really liked my school, it was an international school so I feel I learned a lot more than most kids my age do. Especially about the world and other people. I have an older sister who is 26 who currently lives in New York.
2) What inspired you to blog and what inspired your blog name?
I never really went into it being like “okay I am going to be a blogger”.
I always felt like blogging was a very mainstream concept. I do like a lot of other things in my daily life. I only wanted to do blogging if I could stay true to myself and so far I have been able to do just that. So I started last summer where my friend, a photographer, was “like we should take some pictures.”
He taught me how to pose and what to do. I posted this on the Instagram which received good feedback. I start to think “Hey, this is fun!” So we started doing more shoots and it carried on from there.
I didn’t want to be the annoying basic person however by basing the blog on my life and everyday things I think I have avoided that.
3) What kind of social issues do you hope to shine a light on with your blog/brand?
In terms of social issues, one of the main missions of my blog is to make sure people find it okay to stay true to their roots. It is important of course to assimilate into a culture if you are living in a country like USA and Canada, however, it is important to be true to yourself and be true to who you are.
I also talk about my non-profit organization which basically tries to empower young girls.
4)On your blog, you talk about how you believe no one should be ashamed of their desi culture even if others do not understand it. Did you always feel this way or growing up did you sometimes feel you had to hide your heritage?
I did not always feel this way growing up.
Fortunately, I had an older sister who made me feel better about my desi culture. However, it was really something I had to discover for myself. I was embarrassed by my desi culture and I think it was going to India by myself which really changed my mind.
My perspective towards my identity is different now.
I found what I liked about it and it made me proud of it.
5) Who inspires you as a person?
In my blog, I talk a little it about how my mum inspired me in terms of work ethic.
Especially being raised in my household, I never was made to believe that I could not do something because I am brown or because I am a girl.
As my world has grown bigger, I guess that has come up a little bit more. I think this must be a cheesy answer, but everyone in my life does inspire me especially my two best friends. They have always encouraged me, not to bother about what other people say or about societal norms.
They inspire me to do what I want to do every day, not to be competitive with the people around me but to be competitive with myself.
6) Could you tell us more about your non-profit and what you have done so far / hope to do with the non-profit in the future?
My non-profit is called the Lucknow Project and it operates under a larger organization called GraceCARES.
As said before, we aim to empower women with education.
I take care of three schools and they happen to be Madrasas school which is a religious school for Muslim children. So what we actually try to do is implement English Curriculum so that they have the opportunity to learn English.
Typically these Madrasas do not compare to the standard of the government schools not that the government schools are any good!
Therefore what we wanted was give them the opportunity to learn English and better opportunities to gain jobs.
We also want to improve the quality of village life so we have a fund for the most underprivileged families can take from.
We also provide financial funds for weddings, funerals, loans and we help around 30 families with these funds. In the future, I’m planning to take those underprivileged 30 families and in collaboration with an Indian designer, we aim to create designs for them and teach them embroidery so that they can earn living wages from this trade.
7) I loved your story about how you worked up the courage to email Mani Jassal to collab. Do you have any advice for other bloggers on how to start collaborating with brands?
Any bloggers who want to start collaborating with brands, create quality content first of all and get inspiration out there.
So try to make sure you collab with people who believe in your vision and what you want to do. I personally believe my differentiation point is writing as I try to pair any picture with a deeper message. Reach out to whoever inspired you. No brand, however, is going to want to use an influencer who does not fit into their brand narrative. For example, I am not going to collab with naked fashion or fashion nova. I am more looking to Indian looks with a touch of Indian. In the summer I was so surprised as to the many brands who wanted to collab with me like Anita Dongre and Global Desi.
8) How has uni life impacted your vision for your blog? How has uni changed you as a person?
It has made my blog little more complex and dynamic, as blogging is not a thing going on with my life.
It has also helped me find a niche because my blog is now for girls on to go, who maybe don’t have time for a full desi look, however, want a touch of des to their looks. Uni has really expanded my world because I went to a small private school in Massachusetts and now I am much more independent as now I live in a small apartment with my parents in another country as I live in Canada right now. It has taught me also not everything is handed to you in life, not that everything was growing up but McGill University you are really on your own in regards to education and it is up to you to make that grade.I usually get anxious over little things but now I can take blows.
9) What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
I think first to finish my undergrad and then I really want to take a few months off from school and maybe go to India.
I would love a good job with a PR Agency and my bigger dream would be to a PR liaison between Indian and Western firms.
I would love to travel and live between Indian and USA would makeup make me a happy gal. I have so many passion projects I would love to start in India, for instance, a heritage restoration project in Lucknow. But first- graduating!
10) What has been your favourite city in India and why?
I obviously love Lucknow. Anyone who has read my blog would know this.
It is an undiscovered beauty, which I feel has been brushed to a side somehow.
It used to be this beautiful, magical and very historical city in India about 100 years ago, but now the government does not really care about now can be considered one of the most backward states in India which is unfortunate. I really believe that if it had been maintained people would love it. But I also love Dehli because there is always new places to eat and new places to shop.
So I love both of those cities a lot.
That is all for this interview. But there are so many other inspirational South East Asian Girls who’s interviews can be found on this website. Scroll down to follow.