Interview: Shravya Varma, Indian Celebrity Stylist, Producer & Entrepreneur

Shravya Varma

Interview with Shravya Varma, Indian Celebrity Stylist, Producer & Entrepreneur

Shravya Varma, an Indian celebrity stylist, a producer and the South’s biggest and most followed lifestyle influencer. Shravya has dressed superstars such as Vijay Deverakonda, PV Sindhu, Keerthy Suresh, Saina Nehwal to name a few.

While her early beginnings are rooted in the south indian film industry as a costume designer, she at present caters to a clientele that includes Business Individuals and Celebrities from pan India.

Having established herself as a celebrity stylist for over a decade, this stylist turned producer is a two time TEDX speaker and a sought after name surrounded with an impeccable network of commercially valuable faces and brands from the south industry.

Her previous collaborations include: Jack & Jones, Kama Ayurveda, ONLY, Mac Cosmetics, Sugarbear Hair to name a few.

Shravya Varma is an iconoclastic and multifaceted individual who has benefited from taking risks and diversifying early in her career.

Case in point being her pivot into expanding her horizons and taking on an entrepreneurial role in the restaurant sector.

Her life and career has lent her experiences and opportunities to not just travel the world but to also dine at some of the best restaurants.Taking her experience and personal passion in the food & beverage culture, Shravya is soon to be opening Hyderabad’s largest experiential restaurant and bar.

The decor is inspired with accents of emerald green, bronze and white marble showcasing modernity in its euro-indian design, complete with live-music and long tables which are great for group hangouts and large events.

Shravya is someone who has defied convention and has mastered everything she loves. Be it styling, fashion, films and now entrepreneurship.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey as a celebrity stylist and producer?

Shravya Varma: When I think back about when I started it off 13 years ago, maybe I did whatever I did due to a certain innocence and a lot of stupidity and hence lack of fear.

I say that because thinking back at it now, when I first started there was no job specification in the south cinema for a stylist / costume designer.

So maybe if I had the exposure I had now and I started something new now, I may have a lot more fear now and I would be a lot more calculative. 

I don’t then, I just started.Similarly for my production debut . I somehow don’t anticipate the several challenges that I faced during the production, the pandemic namely.

No one did. But I do feel like I got a certain crash course in it now. So I feel I am better equipped now than I was.

What inspired you to become a lifestyle influencer?

Shravya Varma: Quite frankly, a sudden click that I was taking on my lifestyle and experiences for granted made that switch.

I am fortunate enough that my work takes me to places, I get to stay at some beautiful properties, I meet some amazing people and I receive some amazing products.

I don’t really appreciate it in the formative years of receiving these perks. It’s only now I realised that the breakfast I have in say the Leela Palace is to be enjoyed, I now enjoy even a car drive to go to the location or my hotel because I don’t have to beat myself over organising that.

It’s organised for me. I appreciate that now. I take that effort and wake up a little early to enjoy these little things when I am at work.

My work doesn’t leave me much time to do so but every chance I get now, I take a moment to cherish every thing, however small or big. I then started documenting these very naturally and organically.

I don’t have to put up anything I don’t like this way so I am not obligated in anyways.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your work, and how do you overcome them?

Shravya Varma: I think the biggest challenge is time. Most often we won’t be given time to execute these projects. Secondly, it will be really challenging if we get an unappreciative client.

That energy is very draining. Lastly, some days we win and some days we lose. So on such days, when we are not in control of things, we just have to take the hit I guess .

How do you stay on top of current fashion and lifestyle trends?

Shravya Varma: Social media mostly these days. But I follow a lot of the fashion weeks internationally, some of the people I look up to are all social media personalities abroad or here. Their style helps me learn, evolve and experiment.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in the industry?

  • Assist someone. That’s such an underrated place to start. It’s the safest.
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously as soon as you finish one or two shoots. Give it some time.
  • Stop thinking that your pictures with celebrities can work as your portfolio for more work to pitch to others.

Can you walk us through your creative process when styling a client or producing a project?

Shravya Varma: The project comes first. The character being played is the first thing we keep in mind and the vision of the director.

Then we discuss with the client and take it from there. I ideally like having a bunch of options and then deciding so that I give what the client wants but also pitch what I have in mind.

If it’s the client’s personal event or appearance, then I try to keep in mind his/her personal style and vibe.

How do you balance your personal style with the needs and preferences of your clients or the target audience of your productions?

Shravya Varma: I guess that’s a work in progress. I would like to mention one of my recent works here just to get an idea.

I styled Mr Chiyan Vikram for the promotional tour of the movie  PS2 . Firstly I put together 24 looks in 24 hours notice.

He explained his vibe and how he is looking to present himself. So the first 1-3 outfits started off that way.

He had some crazy good hair going on for this film so we took that into account and went crazy for travel looks since we were on tour all across the country.

And we went super slick for the interviews and press . That being said, as I travelled with him and the team my challenge was to have my client stand out in a star cast of 7 super stars.

So there was a lot of improvisation and a lot of cooperation even from the client to pull these off and step out of his comfort zone.

I managed to convince him for a few out of the box looks for example in places where we can afford to take that risk like in Hyderabad and in Bombay.

Whereas we played safer in Coimbatore, Trichy and Madurai. So it varies from occasion, person, time and a lot more logistics .

How do you approach collaboration with brands and other industry professionals?

Shravya Varma: Earlier, I used to sit down and make a lot of phone calls, send a lot of emails, and be on the receiving end of a lot of rejection specifically because my major clientele was from the “South”.

Now everything has changed for the better. I have a wonderful team and also we are much more welcomed now than we used to be. I pick up the calls when I absolutely have to but work goes on smoothly .

What can we expect to see from you in the future, in terms of upcoming projects or personal goals?

Shravya Varma: I am at that phase in life where I am diversified into various things. My primary job and first love is styling of course.

But I do have my feet in various different investments and projects. I debuted into production this past year for my love for cinema and this year I am venturing into hospitality by launching my first culinary bar in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad. I enjoy real estate more than bags, I am looking forward to investing in a few more startup’s .

My personal goal is to just wake up gently. I want to just be able to have a slow morning as opposed to a rushed one .

What are your success tips for young and aspiring entrepreneurs?

Shravya Varma: I think the younger generation today expects everything and more in no time. They won’t compromise on work or on money or on time. They want it all and they want it now . 

So I just feel the need to say, this field is not like a 9-5 kind of job where things are going to be consistent or correct.

It requires patience and a lot of hard work. As I always say, fulfil your dharma diligently. Do your job rightfully and the rewards will follow.

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