The chic, eccentric and innately warm Mamta Sharma Das is more popularly known as the ‘thebohobaalika’ on Instagram. The entrepreneur and content creator is also a designer herself, which makes her job as a fashion tastemaker much easier. “I don’t call myself an influencer, I believe that my social media is like a visual diary of my life,” she tells us.
With an Instagram community of 1,38,000 followers, Mamta’s feed is a constant source of fashion inspiration, emerging trends and body positivity. Mamta moved to Kolkata five years ago and within months, found her calling on social media.
My Kolkata caught up with her to learn more about her journey and her plans…
How did you enter the world of fashion?
It wasn’t a conscious or planned decision. Five years back, my family and I moved to Kolkata and right after my daughter’s third birthday, we learnt that she was on the autism spectrum. That was a low period in my life. As I tried to educate myself on how to take better care of my child, I realised I would never be able to go back to the corporate world. I had put on weight and was suffering from depression.
A friend reached out to me, motivating me to take control of my life. Since I had always been creatively inclined, she suggested that I start blogging. Along with starting my blog, I also reactivated my Instagram profile, which gave me the opportunity to start afresh and carve out a niche for myself.
What was it like moving to Kolkata?
I’m a Punjabi, born and brought up in Delhi and married to a Bengali. We moved to Kolkata for my husband’s work. The first few days, I didn’t quite like it here because everything in my life seemed to be going downhill after the move. But slowly, as we moved past the transition period, I realised that the city is unlike any other. People don’t judge each other here and that encouraged me to explore my own style and it also fuelled my creativity.
Have you always been a fashion collector?
My sense of style has always been very different from the people around me. When I was in school, I always found myself attracted to jewellery and clothing that was unconventional and what many may call bohemian. I used to make my own bead jewellery and use rocks to create funky pieces. I am a hoarder when it comes to clothes and jewellery and that gives me the opportunity to express my style.
Tell us about your brand Viva La Vida
I wanted the brand to be an extension of my style. In the last couple of years, my style has undergone quite a transition. I found myself drawn to the idea of relaxed, anti-fit clothing. That’s what influenced my brand. The response has been fantastic and that led me to realise that there is a big market for relaxed fits.
You’ve always been an ardent supporter of small businesses from all over the country…
Yes, when my work started to get recognised, I wanted to create a platform to showcase all the homegrown brands that are making beautiful pieces. Most buyers chase the big brands, leaving these artists behind. Most of these labels are owned by women who have taken a chance and started something of their own. I identify very strongly with that because I too got a second lease on life.
What has been one of your best memories as a content creator?
I was on holiday in Dharamshala with friends a few years back. Somewhere between Dharampur and Dharamshala, there was a group of young college girls from Chandigarh. I was wearing layers of clothes because it was cold and one of the girls identified me and asked me if I was thebohobaalika from Instagram. That was the first time I was recognised by a follower. I can never explain the happiness I felt in that moment!
Your home also looks like an extension of your style…
I feel blessed to have been born creative and I feel that extends to every aspect of my life. I see almost any space as an empty canvas that has the potential to be so much more. Thankfully, my husband enjoys art and lets me be the curator. I try to keep switching up the decor in my home, especially my verandah, to keep things fresh and vibrant.
You’ve often spoken about your love and admiration for Frida Kahlo. Can you tell us how you relate to her?
I was introduced to Frida in my art classes in school. I was instantly smitten with her. I saw one of her portraits and I was absolutely fascinated. I was drawn to her style, her tiara of flowers, all of it. Again, in college, I came across a book on her work. She seemed to be reappearing in my life over and over again. The more I read and explored her work, the more I related to her life, her pain and sadness. I love how she set her own trends and standards of beauty. I haven’t come across anyone who has made such an impression on me, she is my idol.
What advice do you have for emerging content creators?
Do not lose your own identity. Ask yourself, ‘Why are you here?’, and if you have that answer, stick to it. Don’t get carried away by what others are doing. Be true to yourself and the content you are making and most importantly, don’t take everything so seriously. At the end of the day it is just an application. Establish your own personality and be real. That is the best way to connect with your audience.
Describe your style and design aesthetic in three words.
Bohemian, eccentric and unpredictable.
How do you usually curate your OOTD?
I always dress according to my mood. So if I’m not feeling too great on a particular day, I keep things simple with maybe a white kurta and jeans. However, on days that I’m feeling upbeat and good, I could be completely dressed up even for a simple coffee meet with friends!
Have you ever made a fashion faux pas ?
I think the only faux pas I made was when I had bleached my hair and it turned an unpleasant orange! I probably didn’t realise it because I was so busy owning the look with confidence!
Which is your favourite sari weave?
I absolutely adore ikkat. Most of my personal collection is dominated by ikkats and hopefully soon I will be able to buy a Patola.
What are your favourite fashion trends?
I think the concept of sustainability works really well for the world of fashion. The idea of appreciating style over fashion is fantastic. The fact that people are able to express themselves through their style is amazing!