Shilpa Jain: Mallika – you are an inspiration to our young women at AFH! Being a Founder at a young age in the Digital Media and Digital PR industry. Do take us through your stupendous journey.
Mallika Soni: So since I was young I thought I’d work in the same profession as my father and family; Jewellery. I assumed I’d like it too because everyone from my mum’s side, dad’s side and far off relatives were in this space as well.
When I was in the 12th grade, I had a plan laid out in front of me. First, finish school, then learn/ train under someone with experience in diamonds from my father’s office itself whilst attaining a degree post which I’d go to GIA; a leading gemological school and get a placement there itself before starting my own company.
I did start learning diamonds and a little bit of gold as well. Initially, because I had the goal in mind – I enjoyed it but slowly began to realise it isn’t something for me. I didn’t like what I was doing but I kept pushing – mainly because I was scared. Scared that I’d told everyone at school, all my friends, relatives — basically everyone that this is what I wanted to do with my life and I was sure.
I was kind of embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know what I was doing.
I kept trying for months and months, I just didn’t feel as interested and I began to wonder maybe I’m just supposed to not be one of those girls that made money or worked. I had made this such a passion of mine and when it didn’t work I just felt like maybe I’m not one of those girls that are as career-oriented or with money being a driving factor.
I stopped going to work or learn. I started becoming lazy, aimless and very close to useless. I spent my time sleeping all day and bingeing on shows. I stopped socialising as much as I would and went through a real low in my life. My father, who is my pillar, my support system and best friend began to grow irritated of me. He saw how I started wasting my life. How I began becoming depressed and COMPLETELY aimless. I wasted almost 3 years of my prime years like this.
After 1 million taunts from everyone around me, I decided to get an internship to have a way to just show everyone I was doing something – just for the sake of it. I joined a start-up which was a discovery platform of beauty products. I had the best experience of my life. I joined the place as a Marketing person but the co-founders were my mentors and they taught me everything from social media to digital marketing, WordPress and more.
I think that’s when I began liking the digital realm and understanding the space a little bit more. I understood how that was the future so after almost a year of interning and working with them – I took on a few projects and clients on a freelance basis for another year after which I founded EvolveNow Media.
MS: For the benefit of your young women, did you equip yourself with a particular skill or educational qualification in order to pursue a career in Public Relations?
MS: So I don’t think there’s a set roadmap to getting into this space. You need to self educate a lot. There’s something new to learn every day and experience will teach you more than any book ever could in my opinion.
What I know now — I definitely didn’t know a year ago. Even freelance vs being a founder is very very different from one another.
SJ: What drives you and who is your inspiration?
MS: I think what drives me is the years that I wasted and have people think I would amount to nothing; including my own family and friends — this really fuels my fire. To see how happy my parents feel or how proud my friends feel and more than anyone else; how I feel about myself now versus back then.
I think a lot of people inspire me. I don’t have one specific person. So many of my clients inspire me, so many people in the same space doing some fabulous work and talking about their journey, their hardships etc really inspires me cause everyone’s journey is different from the other.
SJ: What does your agency “EvolveNow Media” specialize in? What kind of client segment do you cater to?
MS: EvolveNow Media is a digital media and digital PR company wherein we also do partial talent management. Our clients vary from athletes, discovery platform applications, clothing brands all the way up to private air charter companies. We do it all.
SJ: Do highlight any challenges faced in the journey to achieving your ambition?
MS: So for me, something I seem to battle every day is drawing a constant comparison between other people in this space and me. The work they do, the creativity, the quality of content. That is something that I battle every day but keep pushing it aside. I think that’s something a lot of people have told me even they deal with as well.
SJ: Why is being financially independent important to you?
MS: When I was at my lowest — I didn’t understand or know what I know today but when you have your own money and when you spend your own money, there is a sense of pride and joy that comes with it. It is critical not just for women but everyone. It is liberating to make your own money and not be dependent on anyone for anything. Now when I want something, I think of how I’ll make up for it if I buy it and not once do I think to myself – “Oh how will I convince my dad to buy it for me. He’ll never allow it” etc. It is something I learnt after a long time — it’s not as fun being dependent on someone as it is making your own name and money.
SJ: Any message to the members of Aspire for Her?
MS: So I think it’s essential to make a name and place for yourself – even when there are days you don’t think you’re gonna make it and can’t get out of bed – do it for yourself. Do it to prove to yourself that you can do better than you did yesterday.
Every girl has it in her. A fire in her to make it in life — she just needs to find her fire.
Interviewed by: Shilpa Jain