India's Top 100 Digital Stars 2022 by Forbes India-INCA

Komal Pandey: The couture queen

The Delhi-based fashion influencer was studying to become a CA, but found her calling in fashion blogging. Known for her bold and unconventional style, she is now one of the most popular content creators in India

Naini Thaker
Published: Jul 22, 2022 03:42:44 PM IST
Updated: Jul 22, 2022 04:36:24 PM IST

Komal Pandey: The couture queenKomal Pandey, fashion influencer and content creator Image: Amit verma

On July 14, 2021, Komal Pandey was crying on her Instagram story—tears of joy—for reaching a massive milestone: 1 million followers. “If you told a 19-year-old me that I would have a million followers, I would never believe you,” Pandey tells Forbes India. “I was crying because in that moment it felt like everything I had gone through was worth it.”

A topper in school, Pandey was all set to become a chartered accountant (CA). When she was pursuing her bachelor’s in commerce from Delhi University, she realised that wasn’t her calling. “I failed my last semester, which meant I had a year’s gap. That’s when I thought I could give fashion blogging a shot,” she recalls. But back in 2015, fashion blogging as a serious career was an alien concept. “I sat my parents down and told them to give me a year. If I couldn’t make a living out of this, I promised them I’ll clear my backlogs and continue pursuing CA,” says Pandey, who was born in Ranchi, but whose family has lived in Delhi for close to 18 years.

Komal Pandey started a blog called ‘The College Couture’, mostly looking at recyclable fashion and making the most of what’s in your closet—a USP she continues to follow to date. Soon after, Pandey realised that she loved fashion, but writing not so much. Around the same time, digital platform PopXo was looking for video stars. Pandey auditioned and got through. At 19, she was a fashion video coordinator for the website. “I learnt everything about production, post-production, lights, and camera here [PopXo]. I fell in love with the process of creating fashion videos—from ideation to packaging and looking at the final product,” she says. She worked there for two years and then took up another job as a fashion video producer at Harper’s Bazaar Bride for six months. In those two-and-a-half years, she could fund and continue working on her fashion blog.

Finally, towards the end of 2018, she decided to take a leap of faith and quit to take up content creation full-time. She was working in front of the camera, but struggled with her confidence and severe body image issues—due to years of working in toxic workplaces. “I didn’t want to work under someone anymore,” reckons Pandey. “I had so many ideas, my creative juices were overflowing and I wanted to let them flow.”

Komal Pandey: The couture queenShe uploaded her first video on YouTube, which got her close to 80,000 subscribers in a week. Back then, she was still posting photos on Instagram. In 2019, she started a video series on Instagram called ‘Fashion Therapy’. Says Pandey, “The series was all about grabbing clothes from your wardrobe and styling them in multiple unthinkable and non-stereotypical ways—completely out of your comfort zone.”

Ever since, she has been making videos—and now Instagram Reels—and most get an average of over 1 million views. “Her fashion is catered towards a niche audience, but her passion, bold and flamboyant personality, and perseverance in content creation make her stand out from other influencers,” says Mrinil Mathur Rajwani, managing partner, Social Samosa Network.

Currently Pandey has a team of three people—a videographer, choreographer and an assistant. She hasn’t hired a stylist. “Why would I hire a stylist? Styling is what I’m most passionate about. I can delegate everything, but not styling,” she laughs.

A choreographer—though an unconventional addition to a fashion creator’s team—helps her with transitions and dances in her videos. “All my team members are artists. They understand my vision, my ambition, from body movements to packaging to video treatments, we pay attention to every small detail and it makes a huge difference.”

Pandey likes to create an experience for the viewer, be it in terms of editing or shooting the video. “She pays a lot of attention while conceptualising and setting the premise of any video. Then she decides the treatment and works on shooting it. From music or voiceover to each video frame, Komal plans in-depth and follows the storyboard,” adds Rajwani. “Be it a 30-second reel or a long video, I have seen Komal putting a similar kind of effort into each video, making her content special.”

Komal Pandey: The couture queenKomal Pandey started a blog called ‘The College Couture’, which looked at recyclable fashion

The way the content creation industry is growing, there is often a fear of hitting saturation—for viewers and for creators to keep reinventing. To stay on top of her game, she takes breaks from both posting and from creating content. “Constantly reinventing and experimenting is something I love about my job, because I like change and I get bored very easily,” she says. In the next few years, Pandey has lots of plans and one of them is launching her own clothing line.

Apart from her creativity and dedication for creating content, Pandey always had the vision to turn her passion into a business. “Once I decided to take up content creation full time, I hired an agency. I started getting work from brands, and money started flowing in,” she recounts. More than financial security, her worry was gaining confidence. Knowing very well how fickle the content creation industry is, she says, “I have so much confidence in my work and work ethic now, and I believe so much in the content that I create. Tomorrow, even if I have to start from scratch, I know I can.”

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(This story appears in the 29 July, 2022 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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