#MuseDialogues: Rupa and Natasha of Live the Collective

MUSE: /myo͞oz/: a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.

Over the past few years, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with a multitude of emerging and innovative brands, many of which are run by brilliant, driven, passionate women. Some of these women are busy mothers, while others work full-time jobs and launch these companies as a side hustle. Hearing the dialogues of who they are and the ‘why?’ behind their projects is always my favorite part of connecting with these entrepreneurs. For that reason, once a month I will be highlighting the talented women behind some independent brands I love, and sharing their stories in a monthly blog series. They are truly my personal muses, and I hope they inspire you as much as they inspire me.

My first spotlight is on Rupa (R) and Natasha (N) of Toronto-based brand, Live the Collective - a collection of South Asian designs curated for the North American lifestyle.

Rupa and Natasha of Live The Collective

Rupa and Natasha of Live The Collective

What do you both do professionally full-time?

R: Dentist

N: Director at a Medical Communications Agency

What inspired you to start your own brand?

We are science nerds at heart, having met as physiology undergrads at McGill, but we’ve always had a creative side to us. Live the Collective was our calling to do something out of 9 to 5 that we were really excited about. Styling and shopping for friends and family is something we had been doing for years when we realized that we could expand this into a real business. The opportunity presented itself when we got the chance to work with Indian designer, Payal Singhal, and well, here we are almost a year later with eight designers in our collective that we are really grateful to be working with.

How do you balance your full-time jobs with your side hustle/passion?

At this point in our journey, I wouldn’t quite say we have balance. We are almost always working in some capacity. But we are both dedicated and determined, and it’s rewarding when it’s something you’re passionate about (and you get to do it with your best friend!). Where we find balance is with each other, and we divide and conquer because we each have our own strengths and I think that helps us to be more efficient.

What is the story behind your brand/what do you hope to accomplish through your brand?

An appreciation for authentic design and quality craftsmanship: fashion as a form of art. We want to bring back the concept of buying thoughtful fashion over fast fashion - valuing quality over quantity. We also hope to make the process less intimidating by acting like a “style concierge” where we offer customization, head-to-toe styling, and ideas for how to repurpose your outfits down the road. You can’t go on a traditional e-commerce site and say “I want longer sleeves, a lower neckline, and can you find me earrings to go with it?”, but with us, you can.

Who is your muse?

We are inspired by the ladies behind “Le Mill” in Mumbai, Cecilia and Julie - two French women with a certain “je ne sais quoi”, who are bringing high-end international designers to India in a very curated way. It’s similar to what we’re trying to accomplish here in Canada with Indian designers.

Your favorite piece from your own brand?

N: a blue SVA couture lehenga that I wore to my sister-in-law’s wedding this past Summer

R: a pastel Varun Bahl printed lehenga with a pearl-embroidered blouse that we just got in the last week. It’s visually effective, whimsical, with a touch of sophistication - hitting the mark on all my go-to style points.

Is there a female-owned brand that you are currently coveting?

R: for my personal collection, I would love a piece from Anamika Khanna on our next trip to India.

N: We have our eye on a few female-owned brands for LTC too * fingers crossed *

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

You don’t lose when you lose, you only lose when you quit.

What advice do you have for other female entrepreneurs?

Don’t doubt yourself, and never underestimate what you are capable of.

Favorite travel destination?

We have always loved our trips to Mumbai and since starting LTC, they’re even more exciting. There is also nothing like a weekend trip to NYC - we’ve done 14 trips to the big apple together in 15 years as friends.

What would you tell your 15 year old self?

R: I would tell myself to be less cautious and to not overthink everything

N: I still have to tell myself this one, but maybe that ‘you can’t please everyone, so stop trying’

What’s next for Live the Collective?

Hopefully the continued opportunity to work with creative minds in our field and to expand the ways in which we bring South Asian fashion to Canada. While retail is our primary focus, we always want to make time for exciting collaborations and projects that interest us.

Some rapid fire questions so we can get to know you a bit better (answers are in italics):

Coffee OR Tea

City OR Country

New OR Vintage

Flats OR Heels - the only place we disagree - R in flats and N in heels!

Audrey OR Marilyn

Sunrise OR Sunsets

Early Bird OR Night Hawk

Glasses or contacts - BOTH!

I want to thank Rupa and Natasha for taking the time to share their story, and I’m excited to shop their beautifully curated collection for my next big event!