In conversation with Juhi Bansal of Closet Buddies fame, a first-gen fashion influencer from Gujarat
Think first generation bloggers in Gujarat and the one name (and perhaps the only one!) that comes to mind is that of Juhi Bansal a.k.a fashion blogger of the Closet Buddies fame. One of the few among the first set of bloggers to have survived the ebb and flow of this world, Juhi is a force to be reckoned with in the influencer world.
I first heard about Juhi around 5 years ago while working on an article for the newspaper I was working with. I’d been hunting – I needed to talk fashion with someone who knew fashion, was not affiliated to any brand and could help us bridge the gap between fashion and the reader. There was also the matter of someone who could accommodate the always pressing matter called ‘deadline’. Juhi fit the bill to the T. And she was gracious enough to pitch in and save my deadline. It took another year before we got around to meeting but by then, Juhi had made it to my ‘frequently called’ list on the phone and was unofficially a life saviour.
One of the few bloggers I follow diligently, Juhi’s blog and feed are a constant source of inspiration primarily due to the transparency she aspires to maintain. Ask a blogger and they’d attest to the reality that creating quality content for a blog and keeping your followers hooked is no mean feat. Juhi does a stellar job of sharing her knowledge and giving us a glimpse of her life through her experiences as a fashion blogger. And now she’s also added other topics to her repertoire – travel to motherhood, workouts, reading, and more importantly, ‘the self’. She stands by the theory that ‘content is key’ and her feed is testimony to the same.
A management graduate, Juhi worked at a global bank and then, whilst exploring her penchant for all things fashionable, she started her blog, had a beautiful baby girl, travelled with her husband and baby, and kept us all inspired. In conversation with this honest-to-goodness Amdavadi blogger entrepreneur about all things blogging – grab your paper-pen and take some notes!
Q How did you develop an interest in writing about fashion, travel and parenthood?
I started with fashion about 7 years ago. I would get complimented on my dressing sense by both friends and students very often. So, I thought, why not write about it. I began with a Facebook page and a few months later, moved to a WordPress site. There was, as they say, no looking back after that.
Q The name Closet Buddies! It’s so unique. How did that come about?
Even before I started writing about fashion, I experimented with a small group of friends where we would exchange/gift/borrow/sell items from our closets we were not using. You know, like buddies who share closets. Also, CB shares its initials with Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City fame) – fashion as iconic as it can get! A few years ago, I even launched an app to facilitate this above-mentioned exchange system (and invested a lot of my savings into it). I have always been a believer in “zero waste” economy, one person’s discard is another one’s treasure, right? Let’s just say that app was way ahead of its time. I have always been a believer in “zero waste” economy, one person’s discard is another one’s treasure, right?
I have always been a believer in “zero waste” economy, one person’s discard is another one’s treasure, right?
Q Your blog and social media feed have evolved since it was launched. Tell me a bit about the way you see it today vis-à-vis day 1.
I didn’t have a plan when I started. Never ever in my wildest dreams did I think I could make money out of blogging! After all, I’d started writing about fashion on a whim.
I still don’t plan my content a lot. It’s just that now I write about my life and thoughts rather than sticking to themes. So sometimes I am writing about motherhood, sometimes travel and sometimes about what’s bothering me. I think both me and my blog have grown up and we are more confident in our expression now.
Q In your recent fashion posts, I’ve noticed a shift towards recycling and restyling older clothes. Was this a conscious decision – if yes, why?
A decade ago, I was a completely different person. I shopped when I needed something and I shopped even when I didn’t. I used to take pride in quotes like “Shopping is my cardio” and “Giving my credit card some much-needed exercise”. I wouldn’t be caught dead repeating an outfit. I dressed up to cheer myself. Now, I am older and wiser (or so I would like to believe). I have realized I have everything I need in my closet. I don’t shop anymore. I don’t collect mindlessly. It’s a conscious decision but it didn’t happen overnight. My actual cardio is my cardio and the only exercise my credit card gets is when I pay for utilities and books. Also, the joy of restyling an outfit without buying anything new- it’s unmatched!
Also, the joy of restyling an outfit without buying anything new- it’s unmatched!
Q What does being an influencer mean to you?
You know, I am not really sure. I do not get influenced by people. I don’t buy stuff just because I saw someone wear or use something so I don’t understand how anything I do influences anybody’s decisions. However, I do understand people are watching me, especially the younger lot, so I make it a point to not do/sell something which I wouldn’t do myself. For example, I don’t use creams on my face and have said no to a couple of face cream brands even when the payout was great because it would have meant not being true to myself.
Q What is that one thing as an influencer that irks you?
Sometimes it irks me and sometimes it amuses me – the keyboard warriors of a sort. The moment I have an opinion about something I will have people tell me how I am wrong or that as an influencer I have a responsibility. What I don’t understand is does that responsibility mean not having an opinion?
Q Do you feel responsible for all that you share/comment about?
I do! I truly practice what I preach so I try my best not to judge and even if I do, I make it a point to not make my thoughts apparent by commenting or sharing just about anything that comes to my mind.
Q With the numbers of influencers/ bloggers growing faster than you can blink, what do you have to say about the current crop?
I have seen as many people leave this world. It’s not easy to live in constant scrutiny, putting yourself out there. Plus, content truly is the queen. You need the inspiration to generate content and for most people money does not come by from Day 1. Like anything else, this also needs investment (of time, energy, honesty and sometimes funds). Not everyone has the same commitment level. Having said that, I have seen some beautiful accounts grow with time including yours.
Be honest about your content and work. Also, get into blogging for the right reasons and not because of the freebies that may come about from this.
Q There’s been a bit of a debate about the term ‘blogger’ used by people with Instagram accounts. Keeping in mind that the word comes from the term blog which means ‘a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites’, what do you have to say.
You know Rapti, I truly believe in the fact that I am not here to school the world. I see a lot of hue and cry about this. Why? The world is moving to shorter attention spans and we have to cater to that. From blogging to microblogging to who knows what the future holds. So, as long as your content is honest, engaging and original who cares how many characters you write?
Q When it comes to sharing on social media, how do you decide what is less and what is more?
I have no idea nor do I have a posting schedule. I work on my own whims. When I have a lot to say, I’ll go online and say it. And, sometimes days go by and I either don’t have the time or possibly nothing new to say.
Q A lot of us want to earn money from our blog at some point – how do you go about achieving this seemingly unachievable income!
I have been lucky with this. No seriously! I have never had to go out and solicit business. Also, because this is not my day job and I am not dependent financially on my blog. It helps me hold my ground both in terms of pricing and the content I generate.
Q You’ve met some interesting people and been part of several campaigns as an influencer. Which is the one closest to your heart?
There have been many. I think the ones closest to my heart are the ones I have done with my little one – Alexa, Nestle and Surendri.
Also, #mysagaaofstrength because I had really wanted to do something about bringing forth the innate strength each woman has but is too conditioned to ignore it. When I interviewed these women most started with “I have never struggled” but with little probing their struggles became apparent not just to me but also to their own selves!
Q Time management! How do you handle so many full-time roles – as a mother, wife, homemaker, professional, blogger… did I miss any?
Haha! There is no mantra. I have a to-do list for every single day. It has everything I would like to do, whether it’s my meetings at work, getting my daughter to do her homework or Netflix and even reading. It just helps in planning the day better. Also, you missed out the most important role – me being my own person! That’s where I put reading and working out!
Also, you missed out the most important role – me being my own person! That’s where I put reading and working out!
Q You’ve put together two groups on social media to bring together women from across the world – #100DayChallenge & #ReadingClub2020. What prompted this? What’s your take on the action happening there?
I would talk about my workouts and books on Instagram (and still do) and some would come back asking for tips for both. The truth is, all you need is discipline and a group that will cheer for you and inspire you to keep going. Thus, the groups. Also, it’s easier to measure the impact when the group is smaller and personal stories are a big help in boosting your confidence. I would like to believe it was a good call because more and more group members are feeling inspired to achieve these challenges.
Your advice as a
Fashion blogger: Mindfulness and conscious buying; restyle, repurpose, restore.
Mommy blogger: There is no perfect parenting style. You do you!
Travel blogger: Don’t keep postponing your travel plans. There is no perfect time, you will never have enough money and work will never get easier. Get up, apply for that leave and just do it!
Influencer: Be yourself. Also, love yourself first no matter what.
Your inspiration: Everyday people! My house help who accomplishes so much in a day – she is the epitome of a working mother doing it all. My trainer who gets up very early in the morning to go train people so she’s back at home in time to make breakfast for her family.
Your life mantra: It’s taken me some time to start living life like this but it really is very liberating – kuch to log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna. I will NOT live my life on other people’s terms or what they think I should be doing.
On your to-do list: If you had asked me this a month ago, I would have said travel more, read more and spend more time with family. What do you know two of those wishes are already being granted as we speak!
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