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How To Be Successful Even When You Are The Only One In The Room That Looks Like You

How To Be Successful Even When You Are The Only One In The Room That Looks Like You

Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Sonya Keshwani. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.

Hi Sonya, so excited to talk about all sorts of important topics with you today. The first one we want to jump into is about being the only one in the room – for some that’s being the only person of color or the only non-native English speaker or the only non-MBA, etc Can you talk to us about how you have managed to be successful even when you were the only one in the room that looked like you?
Being the only one in the room who looks like me has been a journey of embracing both my uniqueness and my shared humanity with others. As the founder of StyleEsteem Wardrobe, I always think back to the young woman who faced breast cancer and hair loss due to chemotherapy at the young age of 29. As a patient, the realization that cancer could touch someone like me was daunting, threatening to strip away my identity as a woman. Even more surprising was the absence of brands in the fashion industry focused on empowering women through their hair journey. Drawing from my passion for fashion, I embarked on a journey of creativity and resilience, crafting headwear that not only addressed a practical need but also allowed me to reclaim my voice and confidence through personal style.

The profound impact of my personal headwear collection inspired me to launch StyleEsteem, a company that celebrates all hair journeys through fashion. Now in our fifth year, the niche we’ve created in the fashion industry – blending cancer and couture – is changing the narrative surrounding beauty and fashion. We were able to do this by holding central our belief that each individual is writing an incredible personal history that can be told through fashion. As we step into every room, we recognize the wealth of untold stories waiting to written. This awareness drives our commitment to connecting and empowering others through our creations, regardless of the room we’re in. We remain mindful that we’re not merely crafting fashion accessories; we’re forging symbols of self-expression in a world where everyone has a story to share.

Thanks, so before we move on maybe you can share a bit more about yourself?
One of the most exciting aspects of my work is creating pieces that allow people to share their personal history with the world. We are the first brand to exclusively create headwear according to season and occasion, so that the timelessness of turbans and other headpieces can live in your day-to-day wardrobe. However, while our designs are made for the modern woman, they are rooted in fashion history, and explore the beauty and art of headwear throughout time, religion, culture and style movements.

As we commemorate our fifth year anniversary, we are thrilled to unveil a collection that pays homage to this milestone by whisking you away to one of the most breathtaking fashion capitals in the world – Italy. This collection draws from classic and historic notions of beauty and transforms them into a manifestation of royalty that we can all crown ourselves in. This new collection arrives in April 2024!

This year, we are also excited to announce the launch of a compelling interview series on our platform. Throughout my journey as an entrepreneur, I’ve had the privilege of encountering remarkable changemakers. In this series, I will engage in candid conversations with them, delving into how they harnessed their resilience during challenging times to cultivate businesses that redefine beauty and fashion. Our aim is to shed light on the profound strength and creativity inherent in each of us. It is my hope that these conversations not only inspire but also encourage you to perceive challenging moments as opportunities for innovation and growth.

Get notified of our new collection, interview series, and more exciting news by signing up for our newsletter at: https://bit.ly/StyleEsteemVIPList

Looking back, what do you think were the three qualities, skills, or areas of knowledge that were most impactful in your journey? What advice do you have for folks who are early in their journey in terms of how they can best develop or improve on these?
So many suggestions come to mind, but if I had to choose three, as an entrepreneur, they are: adaptability, resilience and honesty.

Entrepreneurs must be adaptable in the face of uncertainty, changing market dynamics, and evolving customer needs. The ability to pivot quickly, embrace change, and capitalize on emerging opportunities is essential for success in the dynamic landscape of entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is inherently challenging, requiring resilience to overcome setbacks, failures, and obstacles along the journey. Resilient entrepreneurs embody perseverance, determination, and the ability to bounce back from adversity, fueling their drive to pursue their vision despite the inevitable challenges they encounter.

Lastly, honesty is a foundational skill for entrepreneurs, both in their interactions with themselves and with others. Being honest involves having candid conversations about goals, challenges, and what it truly takes to achieve success. Honest self-reflection allows you to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth, while honesty in communication fosters trust, transparency, and authentic connections with team members, partners, and customers. By embracing honesty, you can build a culture of integrity, accountability, and ethical leadership, laying the groundwork for sustainable business growth and meaningful impact.

What is the number one obstacle or challenge you are currently facing and what are you doing to try to resolve or overcome this challenge?
While we’ve had the privilege of influencing global discussions on cancer and beauty on platforms like New York Fashion Week and Vogue magazine, our primary aim remains reshaping this discourse within the medical community, particularly in the context of wellness and mental health.

Hair loss is deeply intertwined with personal identity, often serving as a tangible reminder of the loss of identity and control for those facing a life-altering diagnosis like cancer. In my experience, while hair loss can be a devastating side effect of chemotherapy, it also presents numerous opportunities to reconnect yourself and shape your diagnosis story.

Hair loss is not simply the process of your strands falling from your scalp. When it comes to cancer, hair loss is a three-part journey: pre-treatment (processing that you need treatment that may result in hair loss), during treatment (experiencing and coping with hair loss or thinning), and post-treatment (embracing your identity through hair regrowth).

Topics such as scalp care, personal style, and mental reframing represent just a few areas where we seek to work with medical professionals in cancer centers and hospitals. By prioritizing personal style and wellness during chemotherapy and hair loss, patients not only cultivate a sense of empowerment but also boost their self-esteem and resilience. Embracing these aspects of self-care can positively impact mental health, offering patients a pathway to reclaim their sense of identity and agency amidst the challenges of treatment. We want to go beyond the fabric and work with medical oncology professionals to champion cancer patients’ mental health and teach them the tools to help patients thrive in all three phases of their hair journey.

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