MEET MONISHA RAJA CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND OWNER OF THE VEGAN SHOES AND ACCESSORIES LINE LOVE IS MIGHTY
Who is Monisha Raja?
Someone who wants to create, share her vision with the world and have fun while on this journey.
What is your background?
I was born and raised in india. I am from Kerala in the South, but was born in Calcutta and lived all over India. By the time I was 19, I’d had quite a nomadic childhood. Then I made my way to NYC to pursue my studies in Fashion Design at Parsons School of Design.
How long has “Love Is Mighty” been on the market?
I have been working on the brand since 2011 but mostly focused on building relationships with the artisans and setting systems in place. I am now ready to bring it to market.
What’s the drive behind the Line?
I wanted to share my love of fashion, adventure and animals with the world. I created a brand that engages indigenous artisans to preserve culture and create beauty, while not harming any animals.
How did you come up with the idea?
I’ve been working in the fashion industry for over two decades and being vegan, It’s been a challenge to find stylish shoes without the use of fur and leather. At the time, I was working with the Creative Director on shoes for Tory Burch. Seeing this big hole in the market, I suggested that Tory start a vegan shoe line. Mercedes Castillo quipped “Monisha, why don’t you do it?” I took that seriously and headed to India to explore that idea in 2010.
I traveled off the beaten path and met with tribal artisans. I was astounded by their beautiful handwork and color sense. I knew that I had struck gold.
Why designing vegan shoes and accessories ?
I am vegan and wanted my personal and professional lives to be seamless. I believe that we can be good to our fellow animals and the planet without sacrificing style. Factory farming of animals is extremely cruel and an environmental hazard, resulting in deforestation, water shortages and increase in toxic gases. The impact is extensive.
I wanted to create a business that would engage in healthier practices, which would also benefit the communities it serves.
What is your creative process?
I don’t really have a pattern or a system set in place. I am most inspired when I travel. Collaborating with the artisans lights me up as it’s a true meeting of minds. I’ll have sketched a whole line of what I want and then I work with them, and everything changes. The artisans will present me with ideas that I hadn’t thought of before, or I’ll see a beautiful headpiece on a camel in the desert and a new shoe design will come to mind.
Where is your point of fabrication?
All my materials are sourced locally, in India. I get all the uppers made.
Any point of distribution in other countries?
Not yet. I have customers in Europe who buy from me and my dream is to scale the business and grow distribution channels in Europe and Asia.
I’ve got to start here first.
Do you think that “Love Is Mighty” can be labeled as humanitarian?
I see it as a form of social reform, without being a charity. So, yes. I believe in empowering artisans, women and men, and giving them their dignity back through engaging them in work that pays well. They are proud of what they do.
People and animals are not resources.
Tell us about your Peta Award.
I was honored to receive the PETA fashion Awards in 2014. It was a lovely surprise. Every few years PETA awards a designer for their dedication to animal rights and fashion. I love what I do but It’s so sweet to be acknowledged for the work I’m doing.
Is there a new collection in projection?
Yes, and I can’t wait to see it!
VISIT MONISHA AT SELIMA OPTIQUE POP-UP SHOP:
7 Bond Street
New York, NY 10012