On a gorgeous breezy LA afternoon at an Instagram worthy coffee shop we had the pleasure of chatting with Riana Singh! She’s a tenacious young entrepreneur in the making seeking to empower women, bringing the brown community together and standing up for diversity and inclusion in all spaces.
She’s a SoCal native and a recent UCLA grad. Riana started out as an Economics major, but taking the elective class - Women in South Asia quickly changed the course of her academic career. The professor was an Indian woman and on the first day of class they were analyzing Bend it Like Beckham, Priyanka Chopra, Slumdog Millionaire, South Asian stereotypes and post 911 stereotypes. She felt so connected and moved by this class that she ended up switching her major to Asian American Studies. How awesome does this class sound by the way? We’d switch majors too!
This sparked her passion for becoming an advocate for diversity and reconnecting with her Indian heritage. Riana reflects how, “Growing up I was pretty Americanized and kind of distanced myself from Indian culture. Becoming an Asian American Studies major helped me to reconnect, especially when learning about the Asian American struggles and post 911 society made me really appreciate where I was from and made me want to represent that more. I loved learning about diversity and inclusion. Seeing how much diversity is lacking, I knew I had to really absorb and appreciate my identity and not just be like yeah I’m Indian, but put that in the forefront of what I believe in.”
This shift in her life helped her see marketing with a different lens. "When applying to companies now I’m honest and tell them I didn’t like my last job because it was really non-inclusive and if I join your team, how will you incorporate diversity with your client work and within your company culture? I’m really straightforward about it now because I didn’t value it before. If we all just completely assimilated to western society and culture and lost our sense of tradition and values in 30 years my kids aren’t going to wear Indian clothes and eat Indian food and I don’t want to lose that. It’s so beautiful to connect with other brown people and continuing to keep that alive is important to me.”
“If I don’t feel a brand is authentic with caring about diversity and inclusion not only with the content they’re creating, but with their team too I’m not interested in working with them."
Even though she changed her major she is a strong believer that, “Your major doesn’t determine how successful you’re going to be. It’s that hustle. That grind. It’s about how you adapt to your environment. It’s how you use your skills that matter.” She’s always had a knack for marketing and throughout her college career she had 9 impressive and diverse internships that included social media agencies, Beats by Dre, Forever21 headquarters, Paramount Pictures, an Interior Design startup, Bud Light/Sprite, content creation for Alfred’s coffee, Lyft and Class Pass!!!
We definitely respect this girls hustle! While most college seniors may be taking it easy, she started her own social media marketing business – Let’s Run it Digital and a Woman’s meetup group – Boss Woman Collective. Riana tells us more about how Boss Woman Collective came to fruition. "I was inspired by a Women's Leadership Summit hosted at UCLA's Anderson School of Management where Amy Powell (President, Paramount Television and Digital Entertainment) was one of the speakers. She talked about how every month she hosted a brunch in her mansion in the Hollywood Hills where female business professionals come together to connect. This inspired me to do something similar for a younger generation of girls. I don’t have a mansion in the Hollywood Hills and I didn’t want girls to have to pay like $50 for brunch, so I thought I could host a coffee meet up instead and that’s how I formed Boss Woman Collective. I want it to grow and I want to have speakers and breakout panels.”
While Riana was at UCLA she also started getting into photography and posting on Instagram. When she was 18 her friend got her a pair of Nikes. She started saving up and buying more Nikes and posting them on her Instagram. She got reposted a lot which led to Nike reaching out and featuring her on their website! This is when she pivoted into an influencer space. In the last two years she’s started posting more of her lifestyle, coffee explorations and tips on business.
So where does Riana see her brand and work in the coming years? In the near future she wants to create, "Some type of editorial and visual campaign highlighting different brown girls that are very authentic about their voice and what they believe in. This idea of bringing people together and creating some dope stuff and bringing some attention to it. Whenever I find a cool brown girl, I post about her in my IG story and say you should go check her out and follow her. Not everyone values sharing. People want to focus on building their own following, but I want to focus on helping other girls out too because I think there is room for all of us at the top. You have to have that mentality - collaboration over competition.” In the long term, “I want to own my own company. I love helping people through my learned experiences, so in 5 to 10 years I would want to create some type of organization or outreach program where people can connect.”
We have no doubt we’re going to see big things from Riana in the future! Her strong work ethic and drive are going to take her far. We’re so happy to see such a powerful young woman so motivated and so vocal about the importance of diversity, inclusion and collaboration over competition!!! Get it girl!
Support our brown sister and check out her awesome blog rianasingh.com where you can get great tips on business, interviewing for jobs and reading about all of her adventures!
Photos of Riana taken by: https://www.instagram.com/ohshewonders/
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