Kudrat Makkar is the Founder and Creative Director of Australian fashion label Mastani; a business built around the basis of women’s empowerment.

“The vision of the brand and our ethos is something I worked hard to create and it is something I reflect on every day,” says Kudrat.

“Growing up in a small town in India, I was fortunate enough to be raised by parents who encouraged me to dream big while equipping me with the skills and knowledge I needed to make achieving these dreams possible.”

Kudrat explains that her parents’ work ethic was ingrained in her from a young age. “My father showed me what it meant to work hard and provide for the family; and my mother helped me to find myself as an individual and as a woman,” she explains. “I was sure of my value and I grew into a confident and strong woman.

“Learning the strength of my own femininity was beyond empowering and liberating. So, I want Mastani to promote what it means to be a beautiful woman, not in the superficies of the word but to embody and be proud of the part we play in the world.”

This year, Kudrat held an incredible International Women’s Day photo shoot to celebrate the rise of 10 Australian female entrepreneurs. The participants included Camille Reed, Jessica Alizzi, Cherrie Miriklis-Pavlou, Amy and Sara Chamberlain, Kerry Armstrong, Miriam Fanning, Brooke Hogan and Carla Rodan – all of whom have made a mark in their respective industries.

We caught up with Kudrat following the photoshoot. She discussed its importance and how proud she is of how far her fashion label has come.

Q. What is the best part of your job?

A. Seeing women feel beautiful in the clothes we have designed, ethically manufactured and sold to them. In a world where retail options are abundant, to know that someone has invested their hard-earned money in a handcrafted Mastani piece and, most importantly, that they feel beautiful wearing it, is a very humbling and rewarding experience.

Q. What career achievements are you most proud of?

A. To have built a brand that employs more than 25 people – most of them in our atelier in India – within the past 12 months. When I set out to create Mastani, I wanted to develop a business built on the foundations of strong ethical roots, sustainability and giving back to my country of birth.

Mastani achieves that not only via the secure employment of our crafts people, but by striving to preserve and revitalise ancient techniques which are often passed from one generation to the other. In a world dominated by mass-production and fast fashion, we aim to meld tradition with a vision for slow fashion with a social conscience.

Q. What do you wish someone had told you at the start of your career?

A. To take things slowly; sometimes everything cannot be perfect and that’s okay. It is also okay to make mistakes but it is not okay to be hard on yourself as you will just burn yourself out. Lastly, do not quantify your business by the number of likes on your social media accounts.

Kudrat Makkar
Mastani Founder, Kudrat Makkar

Q. What are your top tips for building a brand?

  1. Identifying your true passion and then defining how to make this your life’s work. I believe this should be the first step any entrepreneur should consider before embarking on their own business journey.
  2. Making money is not enough of a reason to start a business. Sure, you may have identified a gap in the market that you believe a product could successfully fill, but in order to jump out of bed in the morning, you must love what you do.

    There is a Marc Anthony quote that goes, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” While I appreciate the essence of these words, my experience both with Mastani and the Educational College I built from the ground up for five years says otherwise. When you start your own business, you will work harder than you ever have before, it will demand all you have and then some. Only if you are truly passionate and love what you do, will you and your business prosper.

  3. Be realistic about the time you will need to invest in your business’ infancy and ensure your strategy allows for time to gain traction and build momentum.
  4. Surround yourself with people who are experts in their fields and align with them. Sure, you may be capable of doing something but understand the value of your time and the benefits of outsourcing certain parts of your business to those more qualified to do so.

Q. How do you overcome doubts?

A. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by successful business people who I can turn to in times of doubt for advice or just some words of wisdom and motivation.

In times of doubt or high-pressure, I take the time to focus on where I started and how far I have come. To have built Mastani to the business it is today while raising my three-year-old son, is something to be proud of. Reflecting on this puts everything into perspective.

Q. What does International Women’s Day mean to you? Will you be doing anything to mark the day?

A. The woman of today has evolved from a stereotypical subservient past to an individual who commands power and respect. Mastani embraces this woman and aims to inspire confidence and empower her to express the multifaceted modern female identity.

There is no better way to celebrate this than by bringing attention to a day of such significance, International Women’s Day. It is a day that identifies the importance of female unity, that encourages the power of femininity and acknowledges those who went before us and paved the way to our freedom.

On International Women’s Day, we will celebrate with bubbly and treats for all customers who visit our Armadale Flagship Boutique. I will be in our Sydney pop-up shop in Double Bay, which opens on 6 March, celebrating the day with staff, family and customers.

Q. Why was it important for you to be involved in the Mastani shoot? What are you hoping will come from it?

This photoshoot presented me with an opportunity to gather a group of highly successful and inspiring women, all achieving greatness in their relative fields.

The concept of the photoshoot was simple yet powerful: to celebrate the rise of Australian female entrepreneurs achieving excellence and inspiring younger and older generations alike to discover and live out their true purpose.

As International Women’s Day approached, we thought about what truly inspires us at Mastani and that is the success and courage of other female entrepreneurs. Still in our infancy, we look to established, more evolved companies led by other women, who continue to challenge the status quo, experiencing great success and paving the way for future generations to come.

Our goal was to gather a group of these women to represent their respective industries and unite them in a message of hope. Not only do we recognise and celebrate the evolution of powerful women but we encourage women to support their peers, regardless of industry, because we are stronger together and there is room for all of us to succeed.

Mastani International Women’s Day photoshoot credits  
Wearing Mastani Label AW19 collection – Edit 1 – available online Monday 4 March
Wardrobe – Mastani Label
Photographer – Liane Hurvitz
Stylist – Jessica Alizzi
HMU – Chantelle Baker
Location – Studio Gallery Melbourne
Artwork – Kerry Armstrong Art
Floral – Flowers Vasette
Jewellery – Fiorina
Furniture – Grazia & Co

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