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Aparna Dasgupta is here to Style Your Life

March 8, 2014

As an eclectic Libra with a head full of shimmering optimism and an imagination that looks not unlike like an episode of Adventure Time, having people on my team who deliver loving-but-firm reality checks and warn me of derailing into irrational territory with my business and personal life are I-N-V-A-L-U-A-B-L-E.

Aparna Dasgupta is one of the rare people I know who does this as if it were an art form. She can scan a resume, conversation, or a list of habits, and call you out on the things that aren’t working for your higher purpose.

She’s done this for me many times in our 11 years of friendship, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that she’s decided to take this gift and give it back. Her new venture, Life Stylist, is currently campaigning for funds to launch and provide resources for women to take life into their own hands… with style.


Hey Mishka: First, happy International Women’s Day! What’s the special significance of this day for you and this venture?

Aparna: Women’s Day is one day in the year when the focus is on change. It’s a bit like New Years for Women! 364 other days of the year are spent toughing it out, but Women’s Day is a time for both resolutions and reflection. It’s also a time to reach out to others.

Life Stylist is built on the premise of helping women ‘level-up’ in life through 1-on-1 coaching. It’s about sharing what I know in order to bring more fulfillment, success, and happiness into my clients’ lives. Launching my crowdfunding campaign the week of International Women’s Day was serendipity. I’d been working on it for months! But I believe everything happens for a reason.

HM: What do you think is the biggest barrier women face in their professional lives?

A: Women are fighting against bias and constructs that are centuries deep in the very foundation of the work force. It’s invisible, noxious, and deadly. Many women have internalized the bias against them and feel uncomfortable stepping out of the box they’ve been put in. They’ve been led to believe that the only way to make it is to “play nice”.

Women are inherently apologetic for their existence as a result. When they do step up, lean in, or take charge, they’re seen as rebels: uncouth, unladylike, a threat! Other women even condemn them for it. That’s actually the worst part.

HM: What are 3 things you see most women doing wrong?

A:That’s a tough one! Everyone is so different, and the reasons why they act a certain way is unique to their circumstances. I’d say the 3 most common things are apologizing, fighting, and waiting. Let me elaborate:

Apologizing – Women make excuses for their daily existence. Sure, be polite, but being passive and sorry all the time is destructive. Women step back to accommodate everyone, and essentially cut themselves out of the sphere of influence. Passive verbiage and excusing oneself, in a work email for instance, results in a muddled, ineffective message. It immediately puts one at a disadvantage.

Fighting – I find mixed messages within the “women’s empowerment” movement. Women’s empowerment isn’t a fight against men. It’s a fight against oneself. You have to be daring and bold enough to step outside the “ideal” feminine box you’ve been born and bred into. It’s not about acting more masculine, or being superior to men.. It’s about raising yourself up.

Waiting – Women have a tendency to behave passively in more than just the workplace. They are careful, they are maintainers, they cripple their ability to achieve their dreams due to caution and doubt. They wait for an opening in the conversation.., but there’s no invitation coming! You have to invite yourself to the table and be heard.

unnamedHM: I love-love-love the term “Life Stylist”. Tell me how you came up with this and how it describes what you do for your clients.

A: Life Stylist is an iteration of Life Coach that speaks to my background in fashion as well as my services. My coaching method is all-inclusive, addressing both the internal and psychological, as well as the external self. I show women how streamlining their internal an external selves will bring focus and success, on their own terms.

I offer clients two different ways to work with me: on an a la carte basis targeting specific areas of concern, as well as all-in-one coaching, where I work hand-in-hand with them to clarify goals and challenges, and ultimately guide them through a carefully designed transformation. Changing habits, overcoming fears, even making head or tail of what it is you want in life? These aren’t things one can do alone.

HM: From a young age, you’ve been running the show. Can you tell me about your progression into the mental and professional place you’re at now?

A: I did direct a class play in Grade 4, if that’s what you mean! ;} My life has been a winding journey of diverse experiences. From my roots, planting me at the crossroads of distinctly different cultures (Indian and American), to my interests, both at the geeky and fashion-forward ends of the spectrum, I’ve thrived in the midst of some very conflicting ways of life. This lends itself to becoming a top-notch communicator. It’s hard to navigate such extremes if you aren’t!

I was the shyest kid in school, but at the same time I’d deliver thoughts without apology when given the podium. I realized the power of this ability—assertiveness—through much self-reflection. I began using it deliberately.

This skill led me to a high-earning career in the fashion industry where I became known for my abilities to lead, execute, and churn out results. By age 28 I was earning a 6-figure salary and had launched two business ventures. Where I am now is a result of all of this, but especially a result of my self-reflection and analysis each step of the way.

HM: What kind of woman will your program benefit? Is there anyone this program won’t work for? 

A: Absolutely! There’s no one solution for everyone. The woman who will benefit from my coaching is already aware. She knows she wants more than she’s been handed. She is outgrowing the box she was born into. Her eyes are open. She wants to upgrade, and while she may be afraid, conflicted or uncertain, she’s determined.

That’s where my coaching comes into play. I help her answer those questions and get her out of the woods and onto the freeway. It’s all upwards from there!

HM: We’ve been close friends for over 10 years, so I know you’re amazing, but for those who are hearing about you for the first time, can you sum yourself up in 3 words?

A: Empathetic, logical, and visionary.

HM: What did you have for breakfast? 

It’s a miracle I remember! It was a bowl of oatmeal with maple syrup and walnuts, and a cup of Red Rose black tea. I am such a tea addict.

HM: Finally, tell us how people who donate today will be benefiting your mission.  

A: The money will help pay for the tools that business owners have traditionally gone to banks and investors for: PR, marketing, webdesign, and professional services, and the ability to pay a fair rate to those I work with. Anyone can say they’re a life coach, but not everyone takes their business seriously. Shortchanging myself in that regard just isn’t my style—and I wouldn’t be taking my own advice if I did it!

I’m excited to share a number of fantastic perks you can score for contributing. Some of those are free private yoga classes, a luxurious key charm bracelet, and one of the best, “The Pro”: a 4 week career boot camp guaranteed to give you a killer advantage in the job market.

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For International Women’s Day I am running a special perk through midnight PST on the 8th. 10 lucky women can snag the key charm bracelet AND a 1 hour free consultation for a donation of just $50. All day tmrw IGG is matching 4% of contributions, so your participation means SO MUCH. 

A huge thanks to Aparna for sharing the mission behind her venture on Women’s Day. I hope you’ll consider contributing to her campaign. Having had the pleasure of her council and friendship for over 10 years, I can say with full confidence that she’s capable of facilitating clarity and general awesomeness in the lives of the women who are dedicated to taking what’s theirs.

Drop a comment with your thoughts, and Happy Women’s Day!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Courtney permalink
    March 8, 2014 6:22 PM

    Aparna is one of the most talented, beautiful, and successful individuals I have ever met. Just today I sent her a long (and maybe a bit sappy) Thank You email. :) She truly is a lifesaver and I don’t know what I would have done without her professional guidance and support. I am both thrilled and happy that she has decided to take this gift and use it to help others. If you’re looking for that extra push to start making positive changes in your life, this lovely lady is the way to go. ;)

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