What do you get when a fashion designer has a change of heart & decides to use style & fashion to bring about community change? You get: LIFE IMPACT! Our team caught up with Beulah John to figure out what makes her B-E-U-L-A-H! Read on to know more!
Q. Hey Beulah, it's exciting to connect with you. For the sake of our readers, could you tell us about yourself?
I’m a fashion designer & I work for a brand called Shop for Asha. I am also an HOD at Hamstech College of Creative Education. And to add to that, I'm a freelance digital illustrator.
Q. Wow! You're doing a lot. Could you tell us how did you figure out what your passion was?
Growing up, I was always a creative kid! I loved drawings & art and craft. But I never took my creative side very seriously because society doesn’t look up to that. When I was in Grade 6, we had a prize distribution ceremony at school and the chief guests were the famous fashion designers Gauri & Nainika. I was so glad to see them, and my friends took my notebook which was full of drawings and showed it to them! I had no clue this was happening.
All of a sudden I heard an announcement 'Beulah John please come to the stage'. And I was like, 'What is happening, did I do something wrong?!' When I went to the stage, it turns out that Gauri & Nainika loved these designs and they told me that this is something that I should consider doing because I was really good at it. So that’s when I decided to become a fashion designer.
Q. What was your parents' reaction to your choice of college, i.e. National Institute of Fashion Technology?
My parents were well...not too keen! In fact they wanted me to go for B.Com., Accounting, etc. It was a struggle to convince them that this what I wanted to do, the thing which will make me really happy. Now, even though my parents were not happy with my decision yet (surprisingly!) they decided to support me. I was stoked! Today, I would really give them credit because they didn’t stop me.
Q. How did it feel to get into your dream college? Can you tell us a little bit about your college days?
College was super fun! Those four years were the best years of my life. I made some great friends who had the same creative mind like me. But even though college was so fun, I found it difficult to be a good Christian in that scenario where there were constant parties, alcohol, drugs and other stuff, and there is nobody really to be accountable towards. It was difficult for me to stand my ground and to say NO in scenarios where I really had to. So in the process, I ended up losing some friends. But you know, God works in amazing ways, it was then that I got connected with a church called Hope UC, and eventually made a lot of friends there!
Q. How was fashion designing looking for you after you graduated college?
After my graduation, I worked for a brand called Singhania’s and side by side started to create my own brand, customer base and all. Finally a year later, in 2017 I started 'Zibiah'. This was an amazing experience because I created my own website, was the youngest entrepreneur in exhibitions and overall everything was perfect! It felt like I had finally achieved my dream. But starting a brand is not easy, it was an extremely lonely process. I started to question myself, wondering if this was really what I wanted to. Was this God’s final plan for me?
That’s when I decided to take a step back from Zibiah and clear my head because in this process of starting my brand, I hardly met with friends or basically did things a normal person would do. I was busy all the time and still did not know what to do next. That’s when I thought of teaching fashion designing in Hamstech College of Creative Education.
Q. So did you ever consider re-starting your own brand again?
During Lockdown 2020, I asked myself, 'Beulah, what are you accomplishing with life?'. I was just doing a normal 10 to 5 job. I do not mean to say that the job was bad, but it was nowhere close to my dream. That’s when I contemplated starting my own brand again. There was a lot of pressure on me, I was scared of people's opinions. I was afraid that maybe the same thing would happen again, as the last time when I started my brand. Lockdown 2020 gave me time to sefl-reflect and I started to build a relationship with God.
And that’s when my dad who runs an organization called Asha Jyoti asked me, 'Would you be able to start a fashion brand under Asha Jyoti?' That’s when I thought it would be SO good to impact people’s lives. And so I decided to start a brand called 'Shop for Asha'.
Q. What does Shop for Asha stand for and how is it connected to Asha Jyoti?
Asha Jyoti empowers women and children in vulnerable situations. We provide them with proper education and vocational skills & work like tailoring. The output of that is today 89 per cent of all our women who go through employable skills are employed. We want to build Shop for Asha as a brand where we do not only support Asha Jyoti but similar organizations.
I had abandoned my dream of becoming a fashion designer and starting my own brand. But God hadn’t abandoned that dream. He took that same dream and made it so beautiful such that now it’s impacting so many more people out there.
Q. Could you also tell us how community or mentors around you helped in your journey!
I had a friend, Rachel. She was just a few years older than me and was that one person with whom I could have a 'real' conversation. Even in my struggles, she was a support system and a good friend. I would highly recommend that each of us have that one person to trust and open up to, no judgements whatsoever.
Q. As a fashion designer, any tips you can give to people who want to take the same path?
If you want to pursue Fashion Designing, just be consistent and committed in what you are doing. And do have that one person in your journey, whom you can talk or share about you challenges!