Richa Maheshwari is a multifaceted millennial. An epitome of empowerment, leadership, and talent, her timeline of life has made her everything a modern woman should be. She exemplifies the new-age Marwari woman who wears multiple caps with commendable ease and pride.
A Tedx speaker, award-winning photographer and entrepreneur, avid traveller (she has visited 50 countries till date) and Limca World Record holder in fitness category, Richa achieved success at a young age without a godfather by her side! She also works closely with many animal NGOs and teaches photography to the visually challenged at National Association for the Blind (NAB). A photographer with a penchant for fitness, she holds the Limca Record in the fitness category for maximum burpees in one minute breaking the current world record.
Richa’s struggle was real when she began her artistic journey seven years ago while still in college. The vision of RichaMaheshwari Films & Photography began with a creative dream while she was studying Fashion Communication. While her classmates worked to pursue coveted careers in graphic design or visual merchandising, she experimented with photography armed with her trusted DSLR companion, Nikon D60. A foresighted professor noticed her strength in communicating art and design through this medium and encouraged her to hone this natural talent.
After ensuing freelance opportunities and many a sleepless night researching and learning the equipment, photography turned from an avocation into a full-fledged vocation. A self-made woman, she had set up a small studio by the end of her college year and managed to carve a niche for herself without having assisted any photographer.
Today, RichaMaheshwari Films & Photography is a trusted, award-winning brand in the world of fashion, textile, beauty and advertising with a plethora of national and international clients. From identity makeovers, branding to visual imagery, cataloguing and more, the company strives to push the creative envelope when it comes to providing their clients with the best. The brand also provides a host of packaged services such as casting, concept generation and ideation through photography and design.
The aim is not to just capture photographs, but to capture souls and hearts, believes Richa. Having achieved so much at such a young age, Richa also believes in giving back. She is an animal rights activist, volunteers at the SPCA Noida shelter and has been actively teaching photography to the visually challenged at National Association for the Blind (NAB).
At a Ted Talk
The young entrepreneur talks about her talent pool and breaking new grounds in a conventional society.
Born and raised in a progressive Marwari family, I was never bound by orthodox customs and was given all sorts of self-development freedom. My grandmother was, and still is, my inspiration. She would inculcate good values in us and pushed us to excel and break the glass ceiling. Though our roots are in Jaipur, I hail from Kanpur where I completed my schooling. My family consists of doctors, engineers and traditional business people but I have an artistic bent of mind and it was totally acceptable.
The Marwari Way of Life
We celebrated every essence of the Marwari culture by way of our food, clothing, festivals or cultural traditions. My favourite food is Rajasthani cuisine and we observe festivals like Teej and Ghangour with equal elan.
Education and Career Choices
I worked hard to secure the best grades despite knowing that I would opt for the Arts stream. Extra-curricular activities were equally important for me and I captained my district’s basketball team. My performance in academics and curricular activities helped me bag 97 percent in the final year in school. I gave up on the best college option being offered to me. Instead, I got through NIFT by clearing CAT MAT GAT with AIR-16 and my stint of four years ended with a gold medal in Fashion Communication for 100 per cent SGPA.
My Entrepreneurial Spirit
I believe that the Marwari community has the acumen for entrepreneurship. It is ingrained in our blood to find an opportunity even in a barren situation and like how! I was always sure of not doing a job as I thought that if I could give 100 per cent to someone else’s company, then why not give 200 per cent to my own. I took a self-paid loan for my education in Fashion Communication at the prestigious National Institute of Fashion & Technology (NIFT) in New Delhi. The risks were huge as I had to start paying back the day my education gets over; and for that one needs to have a steady source of income. However, I believed in myself. While studying, I started freelancing in photography. My dream of setting up my own business came true and by the end of the fourth year, I had a full-fledged firm in place – RichaMaheshwari Films & Photography. I cleared off my debts within the first year. The journey wasn’t as easy as it sounds, as I have been through very tough times but the spirit of never giving up pushed me to take the risks at various stages.
An Entrepreneur at Heart
My vision of RichaMaheshwari Films & Photography began with a creative dream while I was studying Fashion Communication. While my classmates worked to pursue coveted careers in graphic design or visual merchandising, I experimented with photography. A foresighted professor noticed my love for communicating art and design through my pictures and encouraged me to take it seriously and hone the talent. After ensuing freelance opportunities and many a sleepless night researching and learning the equipment, I turned photography from an avocation into a full-fledged vocation. Today, RichaMaheshwari Films & Photography is a trusted, award-winning brand in the world of fashion, textile, beauty and advertising with a plethora of national and international clients. From identity makeovers and branding to visual imagery, cataloguing and more, the company strives to push the creative envelope when it comes to providing their clients with the best. We also provide packaged services such as casting, concept generation and ideation through photography and design.
Carving a Niche
Starting out in an industry, which is a little unwelcoming, was difficult, also because I had no godfather. Another factor of me freelancing early was deemed to be threatening by a lot of senior photographers and they didn’t give me a chance to assist or intern. So everything I learnt and practiced was by self discovery.
The Gender Divide
I believe in equality and not pseudo feminism. For me, real empowerment is when you grow beyond the mental barriers of male and female restrictions. Though the industry was, and is, still dominated by men, I looked and pushed myself without feeling the pressure. It is all about your cerebral and creative skills after all.
Wearing Multiple Caps
I am a travel addict and the biggest goal of my life is to travel the world – all 196 countries. I have covered 50 in the last seven years and hopefully will carry the Indian flag to other countries as well. I also have a penchant for fitness, and hold two Limca records in the fitness category for maximum burpees and jumping jacks in one minute, thus breaking the current world record.
Young & Successful
There is no end to the definition of success. Every day the bar is raised and there are new benchmarks set – and that keeps me grounded without thinking about achieving success in a young age. Sure, it feels good to look back but I do not let that get stuck in my head. My journey has just started.
Unlike any other conventional family of our generation, my family never forced their expectations when it came to our career choices, academics or even personal life. My dad supported and encouraged me throughout and especially in my lows when I was starting up. He taught me how failure is not an evil and not the end of the world and also how we should always be open to learning without doubting our capabilities. Even today, he is my refuge, my confidant and my ultimate chum.
Dealing with the Less Privileged
I teach photography to the visually impaired students of National Association for the Blind (NAB) and volunteer at an organisation for kids with Autism (RFAL). Honestly, I have learnt more than what I have taught. These kids are real fighters and have converted their disability into super powers. Their spirit to learn new things against all extreme odds, embrace a problem with a smile and never give up has definitely made me a better person and exercise more gratitude towards what I have.
My Mantra in Life
Live it to the fullest because you won’t get to reverse the time. Live in the present, stop fretting about the future, travel, work hard, love and spread kindness. Life is beautiful, especially when you follow this mantra.
Awards & Accolades
Gold Medallist: Communication Design
National Award winner: Documentary and film-making, First prize in jury category, Organised by Vedanta
National Award winner: Documentary and film-making, First prize in jury category, Organised by AArush
Awards in Photography: For Research and efforts in High-Speed Photography and timelapse by NIFT
Awards in Photography: For Most creative and innovative Communication Designer by NIFT