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9 questions reveal the digital trail taken by this viral label.

Liza Koshy wearing a Papa Don't Preach creation. Image Credit: Supplied

If you don’t already know them, maybe it’s time you get on top of what is trending and what’s not. Read our interview with Shubhika Sharma, CEO of the fashion brand Papa Don’t Preach, on what makes a good digital strategy – focusing around the massive reach that they’ve gained in the recent past.

Q) Can you name any new celebrities that have rocked a Papa Don’t Preach?

A: “We have had celebrities from Chrissy Teigen, to singers like Katy Perry and esteemed actresses like Mindy Kaling, Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Kiara Advani and many more wear our designs!”

Chrissy Teigen wearing Papa Don’t Preach at Priyanka Chopra’s Diwali party in 2021.

Q) Which has been your most-liked Instagram post, and can you break down why you think it performed the best?

A: “So our most-liked Instagram post has been the one of Chrissy Teigen wearing our Sari at Priyanka Chopra’s Diwali party last year. She’s a well-known personality globally and has been a supermodel in the past.”

The second most-liked post on Instagram was when we shared the fact that we lost so many followers, (the most in Papa Don’t Preach history) after Alok Ved Menon shared a picture on his Instagram wearing us. On that post, we bid all of our un-followers goodbye. This was our part of becoming an inclusive brand. I believe the social media community right now needs more than just fashion, beauty, and all things beautiful. They want brands to have an identity and a personality and for that same identity and a personality to be inclusive – and to align with them. And every time we showcase our identity on social media we get a lot of traction on our page.”

Q) Do you have a social media strategy? If yes, could you please tell us!

A: “Truth be told we don’t really have a social media strategy. I have been personally handling it (audience of 482K) for all these years and just very recently about a year ago, we got a social media team on-board. Our main idea was always just about posting very relevant things and keeping the language on the page very two-way and conversational. Interacting and engaging with people who leave comments on our page and, you know, just keeping it very real. Against just putting up grids of pretty pictures. Because I believe there is a percentage of people who appreciate rawness and realness. So that’s who we are – a celebratory and inclusive brand. We make sure we say it out with the kind of posts we put out, the language we use, and in our visuals – including with the people who we choose to dress.”

Q) Celebrities and Influencers are obsessed with this brand. Can you tell us your secret behind this synergy that has gone viral over the past few years?

A: “I think we have a very fresh take on everything we do. I think even if we’re designing a lehenga we’ll try to experiment by making it a half-lehenga, putting a belt on it, putting pockets it in match with really cute bralettes that you can wear later on – so I think the fun yet functional part is the bit that Influencers resonate with the most. We are often told that your garments have a lot of energy – that they seem alive even when they are hanging on a rack. It is definitely the fact that we don’t subscribe to trends and our designs not something you’ll see circulating passing off as ‘massy’. They have a fresh take. It’s fun to interact with our clothes – that’s what people like about us.”

Actress Amyra Dastur in Papa Don’t Preach.

Q) Does Papa Don’t Preach work with Influencers? If yes, why did you use influencers and why do you think it is important to use influencers in this day and age?

A: “Yes we definitely work with Influencers! Only the ones who have a strong sense of style and the ones who know how to pull off bold designs tend to pick our outfits. So you see, there is automatically a filtration happening. This is the age of the Influencer – I believe it is the age of the Content Creator. If you have a very strong personality, and your target is the young(er) audience then Influencers will want to attach with you and your work. It is a chicken and an egg situation. I don’t know if Influencers can help launch a brand but they can definitely help boost it to next levels. Your work first and foremost has to be very interesting and worthy of the attention – and to take it to the next level putting it on an Influencer works from a strategy point of view. You can’t just put it on an Influencer and expect it to help propel your brand. Because the followers and shoppers today are extremely careful and educated with their purchases today.”

Q) Who is a ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ girl? Describe her to us!

A: “So we are doing away with the ‘girl’ tag. I think Papa Don’t Preach is not just for women – it is just for ‘people’. It’s a luxury label for people who really appreciate craftsmanship, playfulness, people who appreciate playfulness through embroidery, color, and silhouettes. People who are not afraid to stand out.”

Q) Your most favorite method of advertising your designs to the public is? Why?

A: “Till date, I think nothing beats the word of mouth. I think we’ve got some of the best brides and some of the best customers through this method. Even what went viral in the United States (with Mina Harris wearing out design, Chrissy Teigen, etc.) could happen because of word of mouth. That’s the best form of advertising I think. Just do your work really well and a happy customer will spread the word.

Even though Instagram is an over-populated social media platform, I believe it does a good job in marketing our designs. It is the strongest social media platform right now. So we as a brand actually spend a lot of time, energy, and resources to create content that is engaging and visually pleasing for the app.”

Q) Who from the Middle East would you love to collaborate with (celebrity or influencer)?

A: “I’m yet to grow my bank of knowledge but from what I see, we would love to work with Influencers like Salama Mohammad, Mony Helal, Ola Farhat, Maya Ahmed and Karen Wazen.”

Middle-Eastern Influencer Farhana Bodi wearing Papa Don’t Preach

Q) Tell us how your brand deals with negativity or rude comments over social media platforms. Do you think maintaining a good digital presence is important?

A: “So it is really hard to deal with negativity, even though Papa Don’t Preach is 10 years old now. It is not very easy to develop thick skin – comments still affect us. But I think we’ve just made our internal policies so strong that a lot of the criticisms we get are misplaced most of the time. I’m not saying they don’t affect us, but we can now just stand better, speak out for ourselves and respond better. I just let them be and not just give my time and effort to respond back to them. I think it’s also really easy to differentiate between trolls and negative feedback. Discernment is important. Discernment is key. Usually, if there is negative feedback I try to personally talk to them, I take their numbers, I make sure the problem is solved because it helps us better our brand. Communication in life can just help things before they blow out of proportion.”

For more such digital secrets of brands that have gone viral, make sure to keep in touch here!