Rachel J Amirtharaj, Founder, La Fantaisie, TheGlitz ‘Super Woman’: “I wanted to make money, make my name & help people around me.”

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The Glitz ‘Super Woman’ Rachel J Amirtharaj, the Founder of La Fantaisie is a woman who set out to follow her heart. And despite the odds, she made sure that her dreams became a reality. Today, a successful 7+ years of stint in the Fashion Industry in India has secured Rachel J Amirtharaj the title of the most influential name in the business. A follower of her passion, Rachel is an astute, intuitive and enthusiastic entrepreneur, who once yearned to have the gown of her dreams at her wedding but could not.

The unfulfilled dream inspired her to start La Fantaisie in 2013 to fill the dearth of beautiful & elegant wedding gowns in the country. In a wedding-obsessed market like India, Rachel was able to build La Fantaisie from scratch to become a leading, innovative and unmatched brand in the bridal apparel space.
Over the years, Rachel, India’s most sought-after bridal wear designer, has been able to add feathers to her cap as she won national accolades such as Ravishing Design Awards 2017 – Incredible Wedding Gown Designer Award and more.

Rachel has a long list of Bollywood celebrities she has worked with – she designed customized attires for Deepika Padukone in Finding Fanny, Anushka Sharma in PK, Jacqueline Fernandes in Kick, Rani Mukherjee in Mardani, Neha Dhupiya in Santa Banta, Sushant Singh Rajput and a lot more.

Albeit being born as the Granddaughter of Thoppil Anto, a renowned Malayali theater actor, playback singer, and music composer, since childhood, Rachel has been shattering the norms of society to lead a self-made life. Before starting La Fantaisie, she donned many hats while she was associated with several government bodies namely the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Election commission India, and as the owner & founder at SpeakWell Academy.
Born in Coimbatore and brought up in Port Blair, Andamans, Rachel had always strived to create a living of her own and has walked that extra mile to educate herself. Rachel is an Indian Institute of Management Bangalore alumnus with her masters in Management, an M.Sc IT degree holder with a Bachelor’s in Computer Application. Put your hands together for TheGlitz ‘Super Woman’ Rachel J Amirtharaj.

Rachel J Amirtharaj
Rachel J Amirtharaj with her bridal creation

Your journey has had many momentous milestones. Could you tell us about your life-changing journey that has moulded you to be what you are today?

A woman’s life is all about writing her story from one milestone to another as she grows to become her own person, and my life hasn’t been any different. I hail from a middle-class background, with my father trying to take care of a family of five on a shoestring budget. Since childhood, I have seen financial struggles and so, grown to learn what kind of value money brings – how differently people behave, treat you or even look at you when you have money.

It was then that I decided – I wanted to make money, make my name and help people around me, not just meeting needs but being a person who’s known in society. So, my first milestone was at the nascent age of 21 when I started my first startup, ‘Speakwell’, Government exam coaching institute, where I tutored over 40 candidates and helped them in securing government jobs. And, I’m glad I didn’t stop there – because if I had, I wouldn’t have become the person that I am today. 

With Kartik Aaryan

Could you list 3 of your major achievements?

There are a lot of things that I have achieved in life both personally and professionally, but there is a lot yet to work for. However, here are some of the achievements that I am grateful for and feel proud to have attained.

I’d like to say that I am a hardworking person, but I believe that it was God’s kind blessings that led me to a world full of opportunities. Especially it was when I was at the nascent stage of building my label from the ground up, I got a break as a designer for Saheb Biwi & Gangster Returns. Ever since, I have styled some really famous celebrities, including Deepika Padukone in Finding Fanny, and have styled and designed for 30+ movies. 

An achievement that is really close to my heart – is the opportunity to work with one of the top international designers, Ror Rodriguez. It was like a dream come true to collaborate with him and work on a project for Superstar Rajnikanth.

And, most important, financial independence. It doesn’t matter if you come from or marry into a well-to-do family, what matters is your independence, and with my ambition to make something of myself, I have achieved it. I feel content and at peace knowing that I can take care of myself and my family and spend time with them at my leisure without having any stress.

What are the setbacks you have faced? How did you tackle these setbacks or challenges? And what lesson have you learned from it?

When there is not enough support from home, everything starts feeling difficult, especially when you are trying to dream big and make big in life. I come from a middle-class family, and they only knew the value of having a government job. At that time, I was working at the Ministry of Science and Technology, and putting my papers to pursue my dream of becoming a designer – was one of the most difficult phases of my life.

I had become a hot topic of conversation amongst friends and family, and it set me back. I was sure about what I wanted to achieve, but so many judgements threw me off. Now that I look back, I think it was also the beginning of something really great in my life. 

All the comments about being happy with whatever I had, pushed me even more because I wanted more from my life than just a government job. I wanted more than security, I wanted something of my own. So, the setback from the closest people became my biggest push and I sprinted through it.

There is this boundary that society has set for you, within which you have to live and be, and I wasn’t ready to live that way again. When I entered the film industry, I tackled questions based on my gender left, right and centre. ‘Can we trust her, can she pull this off, should we get a male designer instead?’ And, I stood my ground, believed in what I had to offer and learnt to deal with people and their biases.

Over the years, I have learnt that whichever situation life puts you in, it is only in you to deal with it. You have the capability to shatter all the judgements and make something extraordinary out of them just by believing in your dreams.

When you look back, what are the three qualities in you that have helped you become what you are today?

When I look back, all I see is a hardworking me who smiled through struggles and stood her ground – but I’d be wrong if I didn’t acknowledge how the Sunday Church visits as a kid played a momentous role in moulding who I am today. My father being the Rector of the church served over 130 Christian families. We were like a closely knit community who interacted on topics of God, life, people and whatnot.

And so, it helped me develop an understanding of life, the emotional intelligence of when, how and what to say to people, which helps me even today to deal with my vendors, staff and of course, customers.

Second: I wouldn’t say it is a quality, now, I think it is more of a habit, but I believe I am passionate about everything I do, small or big. I take things seriously and I try to put everything in me behind it to achieve them.

And, last but not least, being a straightforward and honest person has enabled me to work with difficult people and make things easy. Because of my honesty and judgement-free opinions, people feel comfortable working with me and sharing uncomfortable conversations, and it has helped me navigate through the challenges and obstacles that I faced and build what I have today.

Who are the people who have been the wind behind your wings?

I don’t know if many people will consider Him as a person, but I have wind under my wings because of my belief in God. He has been my strength and my confidant, and He has helped me fly. He is my best friend and my faith in Him has never let me down. Thanks to Him, I have a set of beautiful parents who taught me how to do life, and with their morals and values – I have come so far in life.

Besides them, it is my spiritual guides who have guided me in my journey holistically. Presently, Apostle David Devaraj has been a great life mentor, he has offered me a safe space and has helped me be me. He has guided me in times when I would have broken apart and it was he who helped me find my answers.

I am really thankful for these people, for they have played a very specific role in my life and helped me climb ladders I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Lastly, if there was a quote to define you, what would it be?

Lastly, if there was a quote that defines me, it would be a quote from Albert Einstein that says, “Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.” And, I believe that this quote reflects the reality of my journey, both personally and professionally. Like any other human, I have faced challenges and have felt weak because of the wrong people in life, but then I have also learnt to filter them as I grew old.

On several occasions, people have asked me if I’d know a lot of people and would have great connections, but honestly, I have a very small circle. For me it is all about quality over quantity, and how would having negative people support my growth – so I filter the negative energy as soon as I get even a sniff of it. In fact, I am very selective of who to work with, whether it is vendors or staff, because when you work with good people with positive intentions, it shows up in the outcomes.

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