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To celebrate the launch of our International Women's Day Collection, FEED x Monica Singh, we caught up with Monica to talk about her incredible work in raising awareness for gendered violence and standing with survivors, plus she's a vivacious fashion designer on a mission.
Read her story and shop our limited-edition collection (before it's gone!).
Name / Occupation: Monica Singh, President & Co-Founder of Mahendra Singh Foundation.
I’m a woman on a mission to: Rewrite the definition of a woman as a survivor and help move them beyond that label.
What cause or issue are you most passionate about? Gender equality, education, and economic opportunity.
What inspired you to pursue a career in fashion? Was it something you were always interested in?
Yes, my education has always been vitally important to me and revolved around fashion. Even through my childhood and teen years I watched how my parents would shop for clothing and take time to dress up before they left the house. It taught me that fashion is our personal definition about ourselves and speaks without words. It gives you confidence and satisfaction. Ultimately, I grew up to be my family’s and friends’ stylist! At a young age, I didn’t even know that colleges and universities existed for fashion, but it was my calling.
I ultimately went on to graduate at the top of my class with degrees in Fashion Design, Business & Marketing from National Institute of Fashion Technology in India and Parsons School of Design in NYC.
In addition to your passion for fashion & design, you are the co-founder of the incredible Mahendra Singh Foundation. What is your proudest accomplishment or moment, since starting the foundation?
Every step of running the organization is a lesson to me. Every day I'm still learning but my proudest moments are when I see our projects coming to fruition and how they can really impact women’s lives, the communities in which they’re a part of, and ultimately the world.
What do you wish more people understood, about the realities of violence against women? How can we all get involved and make a difference?
People are already aware about violence. It’s not being hidden from society and unfortunately, violence in various forms are constantly making headlines. However, people are usually not made aware about a woman's life beyond being labelled as a survivor. That’s what my foundation is trying to bring attention to.
Who are some of your role models, in the fashion or philanthropy space, or in life?
In Fashion, DVF is one of the role models whose work in fashion is not only inspiring, but has been creating impact in women’s lives. Alexander McQueen, Ralph Lauren, Coco Chanel, and Oscar de la Renta to name a few others.
In Philanthropy, Lauren Bush Lauren is a strong role model in the space of philanthropy in fashion. She has taught me so much during our collaboration including how the fashion industry works and sustainable social impact and how achievable it can be. Additional role models that immediately come to mind that I admire are Gloria Steinem, Michelle Obama, Melinda Gates, Ellen Degeneres and Oprah.
What advice do you have for other young women who have been affected by gendered violence?
My personal advice to all women who’ve been affected by violence in life is not to stay stuck in the past, but try to find a different path forward and find meaning to look forward to the rest of their lives. There is no one else who can decide for you, what or how to do it. There is a long way to go, and one setback shouldn’t let you down. You are courageous and you have been tested. Prove people wrong by standing back on your feet again but most importantly do it for yourself.
What’s next for you and the Mahendra Singh Foundation?
We are working on collaborations with more brands and designers to raise funds for our scholarship program. We are partnering with universities to admit women with diverse backgrounds, whose lives has been affected by violence, in order to provide education that will help them become leaders. Education changed my life and I wish for our program to bring a similar change to others.
I’m also thrilled that MSF has joined hands with the Conscious Fashion Campaign, in collaboration with the United Nations Office of Partnerships, which seeks to inspire worldwide prominent fashion industry trade shows, fashion weeks, conferences and speaker series to implement responsible marketing, operations and logistics that are mindful of social, economic and environmental impact. For MSF, the alliance allows me to bring two of my passions together – empowering women and conscious fashion.
FEED Fire Round:
- Coffee or tea? Coffee
- Minimalist or maximalist? Maximalist
- Early bird or night owl? Night owl
- Manhattan or Brooklyn? Manhattan
- Three things you always have in your bag: makeup, perfume, tissues.
- The FEED bag that’s so me is: The FEED x Monica tote and pouch, of course! There’s even a Monica doll to symbolize the strength of women. I couldn’t love it more!
- Giving back for me, means: Becoming the reason for someone’s happiness
- The #1 thing that gets you up and out of bed in the morning is: Gratitude towards life.