What is the story behind #TheFaceBehindTheBrand: A Story in 5 Posts? How did you think of speaking to homegrown, handmade, sustainable labels?
My interest in the locally, sustainably made and handmade started very young – that is largely thanks to my family, who believed in making the things they consumed from scratch, or buying from people and resources they had full faith and trust in. In this day and age, it can be challenging to still follow this ideology of being so self-reliant and stubbornly “vocal for local” – I’m still trying to stick to that.
Ever since I was in school, my mum, sister and I would scout for khadi and cotton materials, hyperlocal ingredients and ceramics from handloom exhibitions that used to be organised twice a year at Bandra Reclamation in Mumbai. That interest translated into a passion for scouting good design and discovering promising upcoming talent when I lead editorial ELLE DECOR.
Now too, in my current full-time role as a marketing communications and customer experience specialist for the flagship project at Godrej Properties, one of my responsibilities – and best part of my job – is to facilitate collaborations with small independent businesses and brands, especially those who employ and empower communities from financially challenged sections of society (this includes weavers, craftspeople, artisans and people from the supposed lower social strata, who have found a means to earn a living and support their families).
#TheFaceBehindTheBrand puts the spotlight on the passionate people behind homegrown, handmade, design skewed, sustainable Indian labels, presenting their journey, their agony, their story. Currently, it’s a short-format interview series on my Instagram (@RoneleaGybir), through posts and stories only, and hopes to present a no-holds-barred perspective of Indian entrepreneurship in India, and also hopes to encourage support for these brands in all forms – through collaboration, amplified marketing and community engagements.
#TheFaceBehindTheBrand honestly happened as a content experiment of sorts. When the pandemic broke out and we plunged into lockdown mode, my Instagram feed was cluttered with too many live video sessions that seemed intriguing at first, but some were fleeting and neither insightful nor inviting conversations – this especially at a time when there was a void for thought leadership and solutions that would help, for instance, SMEs and local brands that had all their manufacturing, orders and deliveries come to a grinding, unfortunate halt.
After speaking to a few brands about their concerns at a time like this, it is obvious that I had to start this as a simple short format interview series, that’s an open platform, easy to consume and is a ready reference for people who want to collaborate or even follow in the interviewee’s footsteps. The timing and the space (Instagram posts and not lives or videos) seemed just right.
I’ve always wanted to create non-self-aggrandising content that inspired interaction and conversation, without funnelling the focus on me. So why not share the stories of the people who need the support they can get, who can jumpstart their business because of a collaboration or a unique partnership?
What started out with featuring hard-working friends running small authentic, homegrown businesses and passionate people who’ve I worked with, who offer unique services (and each and every service is of course tested and researched as much as possible by me), is slowly evolving into featuring recommendations from people who’ve seen this as an opportunity to promote their business, for free.