Seema Malhotra talks fashion, the future and feisty women
PUBLISHED: 00:00 12 May 2018
Seema Malhotra was a successful businesswoman before her first appearance on ITVBe’s Real Housewives of Cheshire, the reality show that draws over 600,000 viewers every week, and I wonder how on earth (and why) Seema would get involved when she has a full time job running her successful fashion brand.
‘More than anything for me,’ she says, ‘it was a great platform to go on and hopefully be inspirational for younger girls, saying that if you do work hard, you can actually be something and achieve.
‘The way I was brought up, it was always “work hard, dream big, be powerful and achieve.” Money’s not everything; to me it’s that achievement, that sense of actually getting somewhere and looking back and saying “I did that”, that’s what you get the most happiness from.
‘I studied fashion and had an offer to go to St. Martins in London to continue my studies,’ she says, ‘but I come from an Indian family and my parents were really strict and my father wouldn’t allow it. I had an arranged marriage, but what I was really lucky in is in having a husband that really encouraged me, as did my mum, she always said if you really want to do something and be someone, don’t be scared, just do it. Having the backing of Sandeep, my husband…well, he’s been my rock.’
Seema and Sandeep started small, buying European fashions and selling on to market traders in the North West.
‘What started as going to London in a battered old white van led to going to Paris as fashion agents and working with very high end brands, such as Maje and Sandro. Once we got into some niche boutiques, my husband said: “You’ve always wanted to do your own collection, so just do it, have a go.” We decided we’d just make a small, ten-piece capsule collection, which I went to the Far East and produced; it sold out within a few weeks and that’s when Forever Unique was born.’
The filming commitment for Real Housewives is considerable, so how does Seema make it all work?
‘I’m blessed, I’ve got an amazing family and the team at Forever Unique all support me - and I’m doing it for the brand. And I have to say, Monkey Kingdom [the production company] have been amazing with me; they understand my work schedule and are really thoughtful that I have my business.
‘It’s been an amazing experience and I’ve loved every moment of it; having that time with the girls, getting away and having some girly time, it’s fun. I’ve never hung out with a bunch of girls and yes there’s drama and these women are so bold, so strong and so vocal – but that’s what my brand is. Ester and I are worlds apart, but she said: “Seema, you need to dress me” and I love that, I love styling them and I love showing that you can still be bold and strong but you can do it in a classy way.’
When Seema first launched Forever Unique it was very much red carpet style, but over the seasons the brand has evolved into a broader offering.
‘We have the couture dresses, then we have our main line,’ she says, ‘but we’ve also launched the You collection, which is day to night – I wanted it to be affordable, I wanted it to be that you can visit the website or go in store every week and buy the brand; it’s the easy pieces that you can pick up, but they still have the handwriting of Forever Unique. It’s making it a lifestyle, a one-stop-shop for all occasions.’
So what does the future hold for this very busy lady?
‘I don’t really plan that far ahead, so far I’ve really enjoyed my experience [on RHOC] and I really want to remain open-minded with it. It’s been great for me and this series you get to see more of my character and really get to know me.’