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Conversations with the Inspiring Divya Sharma

Today we’d like to introduce you to Divya Sharma.

So, before we jump into specific questions about what you do, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Born and raised in a family in India who always supported me to pursue my passion. I always want to expand my horizon of knowledge in the field of fashion and I believe my interest towards fashion grew exponentially when I took admission in Textile design course in India and gained experience as a Textile Designer in the Ministry of Textiles, India.

There is a saying “Marriages are made in heaven” and you will get your soul mate once it’s the right time. I found my love in 2014 and I moved to the USA in Dec. 2015 after my marriage. Enrolling for the Fashion Design course in Fall 2017 at San Diego Mesa College was my best decision. I believe that taking admission at Mesa college is one step forward in achieving my goal of starting my clothing brand.

Every year, challenging assignments build confidence in me and motivated me to give the best in the field. When I secured 1st prize for party wear them and Rising Star Title in annual Gold Scissor Fashion show 2018, I felt more motivated and confident in my work.

In 2019, as a part of my assignment, I got an opportunity to showcase my designs in Fashion Redux; an annual event where San Diego History Center and Mesa college Fashion program partner together to host an event that features designs made by students based on a certain theme. I was thrilled when I came to know that my dress won the Most Innovative and People Choice award. Winning people’s choice award was one of my best accomplishments ever. This is the first time when I showcased my work in front of the outside of the college audience. Getting appreciation from them gave me confidence and motivation to proceed towards my goal of launching my own brand one day. Same year, apart from Fashion Redux, my designed dresses were among the Top 3 in Golden Scissor 2019 Fashion show and also got published in VEUX Magazine, Imirage Magazine and En Vie Magazine.

Overall my journey from India to the USA is very exciting and challenging. I learned so much and I keep learning every day.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Definitely not a smooth road. Struggles and challenges gives you a social experience and gives you an opportunity to build a stronger individual. After moving to the USA, my biggest challenge was to adjust myself with the new environment. A person like me who lives more than 25 years in an extended family environment and then suddenly moves to an environment where only you and your partner there to understand each other was a big change. Homesickness used to keep me distracted from my daily work but as time passes, I found positive things in the same situations which keeps me motivated to do my work.

Another challenge that I faced was to keep myself adjusted with a new pattern of study in the USA. In India, the curriculum and even the way of teaching is pretty different from what we have here in the USA, so in my 1st semester, I had a hard time in getting the speed with my coursework but my confidence boost up when I secured A grade in all my subjects in 1st semester. After my 1st semester, I was totally enjoying my coursework, being more creative in my assignment.

In May 2019, when I took graduation walk as a Valedictorian, I can clearly see how proud my family had that time.

My only advice for young women who are just starting their journey is to keep your self-confident and positive in whatever you are working on. Without having much expectation of how your work will turn out in front of others, just try to give your 100%. Even if you did not get the expected result, don’t get discourage because the feeling of discouragement will take you one step backward of achieving your coming breakthrough.

What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I love to design my custom prints for dresses with the fusion of Indian art and western dresses. I always try to use the Indian craft motif theme in my dresses since it offers great uniqueness. I have learned the importance of product quality and customer service in my career. Since I am aiming towards building my fashion brand, I truly believe that if you don’t provide good customer service then your well deserves product is of no use. People get frustrated and lose interest in the product if they don’t get good customer service. As an individual, I can proudly say that my products offer best quality with best customer service. I lived in India for more than 25 years and exposed to various Indian arts and culture and various techniques of handicrafts so I strongly believe that these traits sets me apart from other designers because I can easily incorporate unique ideas in my designs.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
There is no doubt that today women are doing great in every industry and they are setting great examples for younger generations. Great female fashion designers including Coco Chanel, Alberta Ferretti, Miuccia Prada always influenced me by their artwork and creativity but at the same time, we can’t ignore the fact that still, female designers are not pioneering as much as male designers. I think the biggest barrier today to female leadership is the increasing pressure of maintaining a balance with family and professional career. As we know, many fields are male-dominated and in that situation, it’s very hard for women to build a healthy network and because of that, they lack proper mentorship which can help them to become a good leader.

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Image Credit:
Photographers: Howard Max, Kurt Donovan

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