Akash Mehta Podcast Transcript

Akash Mehta Podcast TranscriptListen to episode here

Akash Mehta: [00:00:00] I failed and that was the first moment I really like failed in life. I was forced to take that year out to think and to go deeper into what makes me happy and what gives me passion. Oh, he's in the beauty industry as, as a man. It's like, this auntie is saying this about you. I think by hearing more and more of them, it got me more and more stronger.

Akash Mehta: Well, what if I built a company? And actually we should use a face who's a bit darker complexion because it could sell. And it's been amazing. Like our product, we're on the house of dragon set. Stranger Things uses us. Like it's got to places we couldn't imagine. And now today I have Fable in Mane.

Akash Mehta: There's aunties. Our messaging, my mum's saying, can I get some product? Now you're going to invest your life into doing something that you're passionate about because that will get success.

Amardeep Parmar: Welcome to the BAE HQ podcast, where we inspire, connect and guide the next generation of British Asians. If you're watching this on YouTube, make sure you hit that subscribe button. And if you're listening on Apple or Spotify, make sure you give us a five star review. Today we have with us Akash Mehta, who is the CEO and co-founder of [00:01:00] Fable in Mane.

Amardeep Parmar: He's also the host of the Founded Beauty podcast and a serial investor, including an LVMH's Patu. How are you doing today? 

Akash Mehta: Very good. Thank you. Thanks for having me. 

Amardeep Parmar: So you've done  so much stuff, right? And as we mentioned about, you're getting into investment and things now as well. Yeah. But when you're growing up, Did you ever believe you'd be in this position that you are now?

Akash Mehta: Absolutely not. Like, I think that's what I love about, I guess, the journey of life. You never know where it will take you and how you will change or grow on that journey. I'll always be that young child. I'll just layer or build armor on this journey. You know, you change, but you grow. So for me, I was such an introvert as a child, which a lot of people today are like, as if like, you're very confident.

Akash Mehta: I'm like, I might be perceived as confident or might look confident, but in reality, I think I was always innately a very shy and quiet child. So I didn't think my path would be in this sort of social media entrepreneurial brand building part. I thought it would be more behind the scenes, which is why I ended up studying engineering for four years.

Akash Mehta: You know, [00:02:00] I love just being like that math physicist behind just doing my coding. I wasn't very good at that. And I think that was a good push to be like, you're not doing this, doing something else. 

Amardeep Parmar: And then how did that flip? Where did you start getting that confidence from? 

Akash Mehta: So I think it was University time was I think, the biggest moment where I shifted.

Akash Mehta: Everything changed for so many reasons. So growing up, to paint that picture, I was a bit of that kind of studious kid. So GCSEs, A level, you know, worked super hard, tuition every evening after school. My path was in the academic world. I'll be honest, I got, you know, all my A stars. I did very good in studying.

Akash Mehta: And it was at university, in my second year of engineering, I failed. And that was the first moment I really like failed in life. And at that time, it was like really like one of the most darkest moments. ‘Cause sspecially when you spent like 11 years, imagine like, also like after school going to extra tuition, Saturday morning, Sunday morning, extra tuition, wasn't my parents forcing me, it was me wanting it, right?

Akash Mehta: I was like, no, no, I want to, you know, I wanted to go to the best universities, get the best grades, to then suddenly being like, all your friends are going a year ahead, and there you are, it's second year is one of the [00:03:00] hardest because you have to like decide, do you redo a whole degree and practically like, you know, reapply and lose a whole three years that you could have done a degree in or continue in something, but you know, you're not going to get the best grade at the end because you failed and it's going to be hard.

Akash Mehta: So ultimately I was forced to take that year out to think and to go deeper into what makes me happy and what gives me passion. And I ended up doing a six month internship at Burberry only because it was the only gig I could get last minute. And it was in bought media, which is basically out of home, you know, for adverts and stuff.

Akash Mehta: So digital marketing. And I loved it. I was like, wow, like, I'm good at this. I think this could be something I can spend my life in. Like, I love marketing, creative brand building. So I went back, finished my degree. And I was like, Now you're going to invest your life into doing something that you're passionate about because that will get me success and not do what people think is good or what I think people will think is good. No longer do I live that projection that others put on me.

Akash Mehta: It's going to be my own projection. So I decided to shift from that point. And [00:04:00] in the same time, I was building my own social media presence without really realizing it because I was a singer. And I'll be honest, like growing up again, being that innate shy child, I was so nervous singing in front of people that I would always like, miss the, like the auditions and purpose to be like, Oh, I'm ill.

Akash Mehta: But I just was like, I can't do it. I was like buckling last minute, I would like tear up on stage and get that cold feet. And it was actually busking that helped me. So I used to busk on Portobello Road with a cappella groups. I wasn't It wasn't like straight away alone. I had some people with me and then I started pursuing my own solo career and I had a age, like a record, a potential deal, worked with an amazing producer and it was that moment that I started getting some social media following.

Akash Mehta: So I think I got like first hundred thousand followers and some videos went viral with a million views on like Spotify and Facebook. So then I was like, Hey, like I'm getting a lot of this love and social media. People used to come up to me instead of me going to people. And I think that gained a little confidence.

Amardeep Parmar:  It’s quite interesting because your background is so varied.

Amardeep Parmar: You're doing what you're doing today, right? But what we've got to say [00:05:00] far, except for the Burberry part, it wouldn't really be obvious that you'd then go and build a hair oil company and that's what you've you mentioned about the expectations, that's what was driving you before. And you said about you wanted to do the studying.

Amardeep Parmar: What was the reason behind that? Was it because you wanted to get good grades? Or was it because you wanted to prove yourself? Or what was the, like, why did you want to do so well in the academic world? 

Akash Mehta: I think that was, ok, three things, If I'm being really honest here, why it was, of course, the first would be sort of societal and parental pressure that is secretly there, even if it's not apparently there.

Akash Mehta: Sometimes in some families, it's apparently there. They tell you, you got to get good grades. My parents are amazing. And, you know, they, they never said it, but I knew. They would be happier if I got my 10 A stars and they will be prouder if I got better grades. And of course the community around us growing up, especially in the South Asian kind of community, it was very important to get good grades.

Akash Mehta: I think that's one thing. The second thing was I remember saying to myself and to my parents, I'm not that smart. Like I just wasn't that good at class. And that's when my parents are like, well, you know, do [00:06:00] you want extra support? We can get started. You know, this world of tuition came into my world and it was like, uh, kind of giving yourself like a leg up.

Akash Mehta: Right. It's like, but you've got to put in more hours and you've got to pay for those extra hours. I liked that when I had extra tuition, I started getting smarter, started getting better grades. And I was like. You know, this is like, you know, I like this. I want to grow. And I'm always, since a child wants to always learn.

Akash Mehta: So for me, it was just extra learning what tuition was. And I think the third thing was, I didn't know any better then because I was in the same school for 11 years. And I think I was surrounded by the same old teachers, the same old classmates. So it was sort of in this kind of not vicious, but kind of self perpetual cycle of, okay, This is all I know, this is what I'll do.

Akash Mehta: And it was only until I got to uni I started seeing a whole new world. And I was like, hang on, like, there's more to life than what's on a CV. And, uh, and also after that point, I think you start really investing in yourself because you're alone a lot more of the time. So you have your thoughts a bit more and you realize what only matters is what you think of [00:07:00] yourself and what you do with your own life.

Akash Mehta: Not what other people think and what other people want you to do. 

Amardeep Parmar: Because in some ways you would have had that bit of identity crisis, right? When you failed that year, because if so much of your self worth had been brought up, I'm smarter now, I've been done really well, I've worked so hard. And going into Burberry, you said that it was just what you could get last minute.

Amardeep Parmar: Was you, were you looking in the, particularly in the fashion industry or the beauty industry? Or did you have any... like previous, I guess, passionate interest in that area. It was almost a lucky mistake that you did that. 

Akash Mehta: I think it was a mix of, I'll be honest, my dad, he's been 40 years in the beauty industry and, and some stints in the fashion.

Akash Mehta: So naturally just having him as my mentor and inspiration in life, it was that perfect kind of funnel into, okay, let's narrow down the playing field. And obviously at the beginning, where can I get the gigs easiest is his connections and the, and I'll be honest. And that desperate moment I, and last minute, I couldn't like go out and just cold email a hat to just see like.

Akash Mehta: Who can help me? I need, I can't be doing nothing for a year. So that was a blessing that I did, was open to anything. But I, I think [00:08:00] growing up around him, I, beauty and fashion, I understood. And I had passion within me. Beauty especially, like I've always been a huge beauty lover. Um, me and my sister used to always, like whenever I went to the USA, you know, Go to Sephora stores and feel like it was like a candy shop for us.

Akash Mehta: And I just was, I was more passionate always about the business side of beauty. The fact that it's like fast moving consumer goods, you can have a lot of marketing moments. You can really sell a story, you can be sustainable, you can build a mission. And it's one of the most connective parts like beauty is in a lot of people's rituals.

Akash Mehta: So I think from that angle, I was always passionate, less from a consumer because I don't tend to use a lot of beauty products because, um, I actually am quite sensitive to a lot of them. So I was like, I didn't buy them for me. I buy them just to admire. Um, so that's kind of like why I think beauty was an, a kind of an obvious path.

Akash Mehta: It wasn't obvious at the time of university choosing and, you know, do I study management or business just because my school were very, very much like, look, you're incredible at math, you're incredible at physics. you're doing engineering. [00:09:00] And I remember even like at A levels, I wanted to do art as well. I loved art.

Akash Mehta: I used to do art every evening, had my own art studio, I used to paint. And they actually didn't allow me to do A levels in art. They actually said, you're not allowed. So I actually was forced to do math, further math and economics It was kind of like, that's what I accepted at that time. But I'm kind of very annoyed with looking back now, because I think it was basically a forced route without realizing it.

Akash Mehta: But luckily I managed through the, the, the hidden reality of failing, which actually was a blessing in disguise, that I ended up choosing the right path for me. It's interesting because like, 

Amardeep Parmar: there's probably people right now listening will have some like children listening, right? I would pick and rate levels or trying to decide about these things.

Amardeep Parmar: And I just can't, like, I couldn't imagine my school trying to force me to do certain A levels. I did biology, chemistry, maths, and the other one economics. It's very typical, right? Anyway, so, but it's that tough thing because if that's what you're passionate about, then later on, that's what you've done so well at.

Amardeep Parmar: It's, it's just, you could have been in the area earlier and people [00:10:00] are holding you back. 

Akash Mehta: I think, you know, the hardest thing about school is it's only systematic to what you've been taught. And I think that the issue is, is you become passionate in things that you know and study. So I was passionate about math and physics.

Akash Mehta: That's all I knew. Yes, there was the art, which I did know. And I was upset that that wasn't considered. But unfortunately, in a lot of schools, there is the stigmatism of pecking order of what would be more successful for your career. What would you, you know, what would be most valuable to you? And I think that's, that's fundamentally wrong.

Akash Mehta: It needs to be challenged because what really is the guiding beacon to what's going to bring you success and most importantly, happiness is what you enjoy. And I think no one in school should be told. You're not going to study this because yes, you might enjoy it, but it's not going to be good for you because how the hell do they know?

Akash Mehta: Like that's it's not their life and I can tell you like I took that risk when I graduated I went I took an unpaid internship at Estee Lauder which is after like I went back to university after Burberry and you know graduated and all my friends went on to do six figure finance jobs and [00:11:00] I was like this doesn't make sense today, but wait a bit and it will start to make sense because what is I've got passion here and I'm happy and I'm guaranteeing myself I will find success money salary, whatever those things are quicker than most people because if I'm enjoying it I'm gonna hunt for that a lot more and I'll and people will feel it and honestly that happened like two months after that moment I became the youngest ever manager globally at Estee Lauder company. 

Akash Mehta: I still would accompany and that was like a heart an aha moment I didn't get the salary. That one we can we A few more years to work on that, but I got, I guess I feel that feeling of affirmation that, Oh my God, it works. 

Amardeep Parmar: At the point where you actually chose to do that Estee Lauder internship, what was everybody saying around you?

Amardeep Parmar: Did you have that support? And even yourself, you can say it confidently now, but at that time, were you 100 percent sure this is the right thing? 

Akash Mehta: Yeah, it's a great question. I'll be honest. So I, today, I've worked on myself to not care what people think as much. It's human nature, of course I'm going to care a little bit what people [00:12:00] think, as much as I want to say I don't.

Akash Mehta: But at that time I cared heavily what people thought. I was still very much relying on the affirmations of others. Like, I used to go to people and say, Is it, is it good, right? And they're like, yeah. I'm like, okay, great. Before I move on. And I think again, it was sort of like a birth child of like how I was raised and my, what my school culture was.

Akash Mehta: And I, it took a little while to grow out of it. So when I went to study engineering, it was always like, great, that's amazing. And then suddenly you're like, Oh, I'm now working in beauty and in social media. I definitely had a lot of either backhanded comments or like little judgments from friends, like, Even when I would go to dinners and they'll be like, Oh, you know, he does, he does, uh, Instagram likes and Facebook comments and little like, like they're little digs.

Akash Mehta: Right. And, Oh, he's in the beauty industry as, as a man. And at that time it was, especially in the South Asian community, there was definitely these comments that I heard through people. And mainly my mom would tell me little comments like this auntie is saying this about you. I think by hearing more and more of them, [00:13:00] it got me more and more stronger to be like, actually, why do I care?

Akash Mehta: What good does it do to me to care about these comments? Because that's, again, their opinion and probably their own wrong projections by their parents or their grandparents. And fine, that's their truth. They shouldn't be telling me that's my truth. And if I listen to them, how will I ever find happiness in what I do?

Akash Mehta: If I. If I acknowledge and say, great, let me now try to inspire you by showing you, hey, I can have success, I can have happiness, and then maybe they'll start looking in a few years and be like, hang on, like, no, actually, that's really cool. He's in it. And that's literally what been been my beacon. Now, today, I have Fable and Mane.

Akash Mehta: Those aunties are messaging my mom saying, can I get some product? Uh, you know, like, so it's actually quite funny how you just have to remind yourself, like, but you can choose, do you want to listen or hear? And I chose to hear, but not listen. And that helped me a lot. 

Amardeep Parmar: And even from my perspective, right, as a British Asian man, I don't know of that many [00:14:00] people who have built big followings on say Instagram and these kinds of platforms.

Amardeep Parmar: And at the point you were doing it, there'd been even fewer. So you're looking around and seeing people are making questions and judging you and things like that. But you haven't got that many people to say like, Oh, but this guy's doing it. Like I can look up to that person. And now there's started to be more, but even then.

Amardeep Parmar: If people listening, there's obviously, you can think of, if you were to name 10 accounts of over a hundred thousand followers for on Instagram that are appreciation of females, you could probably do it quite easily. If you had to do it for guys, I can't think of that many.

Akash Mehta: Yeah. And I, and I felt that like, you know, I, I was a practicing influencer back in like a few years ago when I would accept monetary funds for posting.

Akash Mehta: Now I only do it for, if I do it, it goes to my fund and my charity and it's for things that are business related. But back in the day I was always on this kind of core sheet of influencers because I take that box of tokenism of like, Oh, he's a South Asian male influencer with that much following. So I was always invited to things because there wasn't really many.

Akash Mehta: Even today, there's not there as [00:15:00] more today, but not as many as you would think. For me personally, like I just used it as, okay, I need to find a way to inspire many more to, to put in the work to, to grow and, and to, to enter these industries, right? Because the reason why there isn't is there's not many that wanting to work, for example, in the beauty industry or apply for those roles, or not many that want to share their life on social media and then grow.

Akash Mehta: So I think it's a matter of, yes, we can focus on, oh, why is South Asian men not getting seen or not getting views or people not following, but I kind of want to rethink it and say, that's a very negative approach that doesn't grow. Let's inspire them to get more to actually start posting like yourself, you know, create podcasts and get out there.

Akash Mehta: And I think that's what. We'll see is if you have this mentality, a lot more people will be in the industry like us and that's exciting. It's an exciting thought.

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah, I think it's the problems you face is what a lot of other guys will face.. So it's not that there's so many guys who are trying to be successful, it's because a lot of them won't try because they're worried about the same problems [00:16:00] you faced.

Akash Mehta: They, they're listening more than they're hearing, right? From that. Desantis. I kind of get that the aunties. I feel sorry. Sorry aunt. But the point is, is you have to learn when is the right moment to put yourself first and, and sometimes experiment and try things that you might feel uncomfortable because of that projections from a childhood that people have enforced onto you.

Akash Mehta: But that's not your reality. Your reality is what you try. and what you experience. So I always encourage everyone because I get so many messages like, Oh, like you're the only like South Asian I've seen at Dior. How did you get into this company? My parents have made me do engineering or lawyer law, but I actually want to work in fashion or beauty.

Akash Mehta: And when I was at Dior, I think that was, I would probably get once a week, a message like that. And I would always say, okay, like a, I want to inspire you that this is possible and you should do it, but B, what have you done? To try to get into that. Have you spoken to people? Have you gone out there? No, no, no, just in my head.

Akash Mehta: Like I can't, I don't want to say it yet because I don't know if I should, do I really want that then? I said, no, you do. You, the fact that you're even [00:17:00] thinking about it is a curiosity. Chase that curiosity, put in the work, communicate to people and don't care about the people that say you shouldn't do this or what would people think.

Akash Mehta: Only care about what you think and what makes you happy. It's very, very important. And I really, really hope anyone listening today remembers that because it's easy for me to say it. And trust me, there'll be days where I go back into my old ways, but I have these kind of like manifestos and words that I have to chant to myself.

Akash Mehta: So, for example, one thing is, is I've been single for a long time, and I used to always make excuses like, Oh, I'm busy and working. I don't have time for that. And instead, my manifesto is, I'm currently single, but I'm open to a relationship and no matter where, wherever I go and I ask this question, I'm like, I'm open to it.

Akash Mehta: I'm open to it. Don't say negative words because you will then start believing it. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And obviously once you started at Dior and you, well Estee Lauder first and you went on to all of these other amazing [00:18:00] companies within beauty and fashion industries, how is that journey itself as somebody who potentially wasn't outside it beforehand and there wasn't many people who looked like you in those industries.

Amardeep Parmar: How did you find that experience and how did that help you grow and learn?

Akash Mehta: I'll be honest, it was really tough and it's still probably tough for many people. The industry is very much still governed and operated through the lens of people not of color, let's say. You see this, you see these like, uh, statements of a room

Akash Mehta: full of executives that are all white men and I'll be honest, it pretty much is that a lot of the time. I actually, I do. I had one of the most amazing experiences. Of course I had those sort of Emily in Paris moments. I of course had people that weren't so friendly. This is like any workforce. I don't want to say this is a duo thing.

Akash Mehta: It's a, it's a company thing at that stage, that scale of business as well. But there were moments, I'll be honest, where racism was there and I had moments where I looked at my skin color in meetings and like, wow, like they're kind of like isolating me in that conversation or they're saying something negative about me [00:19:00] without realizing it.

Akash Mehta: And that's how bad it got. They didn't even realize that we're saying something wrong in those moments and being honestly, one of the only people of color in a boardroom or I was in the comics of yours. I was in this big leadership meetings. I felt I'm someone who likes to it to inspire and make change.

Akash Mehta: So I actually, at that moment, I was like, what if I had a company where I had a board and we wouldn't be saying this? Or what if I built a company and then they would go in those meetings and say, Hey, actually, we should use a face who's a bit darker complexion because it could sell. The only way to do that is by putting those people on billboards and making the perception of people change.

Akash Mehta: So for me, I thought, let me create my own brand. Uh, still didn't know really like what that would be at that time. This was like, you know, first two, two years, the first and second years of Dior. But I knew that was when this, the egg that was, was starting to cultivate the seed was there. And I was like, this is my path is I want to get to a point where I can put

Akash Mehta: South Asian zone billboards and I can start inspiring the industry that a South Asian owned brand can reach a lot of people and can be [00:20:00] successful and maybe can reach the revenues of Dior and that's when Fable in Mane sort of and the inspiration and sort of my my Real grit and determination behind it comes from his boardroom meetings has inspired me even to this day.

Amardeep Parmar: It's what you mentioned there about the billboards, for example, I feel like I remember seeing an Instagram recently where you're in New York, right? You had the, like your picture plastered across the walls, like, and you can see the busy streets were, you know, the taxis going by and it's. You are doing what you set out to do in many ways, right?

Amardeep Parmar: And even not just your face, but all the other faces you're putting out and the people you're working with. And obviously with Fable and  Mane, initially you're, so you're working with your sister. He's been on the podcast and she's told a lot of the story about Fable in Mane. But for your decision to come on board and join your sister, that's what we haven't heard.

Amardeep Parmar: So, tell us about that, like, what made you say like, yeah, 

Akash Mehta: let's do it. So, she had the idea to launch a hair oil, potentially as a brand, and this name, Fable and Mane, was stemming from our own grandma's rituals of grandma, like our nanny, [00:21:00] massaging these oils and telling a story, so Fable and Mane story and hair.

Akash Mehta: Innately, this was our childhood memories. So when she came to me, she was like, listen, like, I'm the creative person, but I have no idea. Like, how do I get this to market? Like, do we do this? Do we do that? And I was a lot more of that kind of corporately trained business, entrepreneurial mindset, like budgets, P& L, like this is what we need as well, not just a great idea.

Akash Mehta: So I think she really wanted to work with me, but I had a whole path set out to me in LVMH. I was very close to my CEO and my general manager, and I sort of could even visually see an incredible growth opportunity in LVMH. But there was a moment where I thought, okay, let me try to do both. So I was working full time while still building Fable in Mane.

Akash Mehta: And we were linked in messaging, um, Sephora, they were interested. We had some meetings with them and I actually told my whole like  CEO and everyone. I told them like, Hey, I'm. building on the side, not in office hours. Um, and actually helped like our herald, for example, the scent of it is created by the perfume of Dior because I was speaking to [00:22:00] people there.

Akash Mehta: And so it was like a perfect balance. So I was like, this could work. And actually there was one car journey where I think it was like after Sephora meeting, I was going back to work and the next day to Paris. And my sister was like, I need you to quit and do this full time if we're going to launch this.

Akash Mehta: So I didn't actually hesitate one minute. I quit. I then had about four or five months before the actual launch date that we were planning. And I just took that role as CEO to really build the team, grow the business opportunity, build a proper portfolio, and relied on my sister to be the creative juice, the product developer, and that yin and yang.

Akash Mehta: Worked perfectly and kind of have, we haven't looked back and then, yeah, using all our experiences, right? So my sister seeing the lack of diversity in hair care in the industry, the lack of innovative formulas with Ayurveda, me seeing the lack of representation in the industry, why our recent campaign is an all South Asian cast.

Akash Mehta: It was very important for us to use our background and our [00:23:00] experiences, propel them to help the industry go further. But no matter what have fun and to this day, it's been probably the best years of my life building family with my sister and with the first, we're the first Ayurvedic brand at Sephora, which is great, but we're the first sibling founded brand at Sephora.

Akash Mehta: And I think that's been incredible because every time I ask someone, I'm like, would you work with a sibling? They're like, no, no, no. And I'm like, I want people to realize like, I never thought I would work with my sister, but actually by just trying, being sensible, being smart, we had those meetings, we put boundaries.

Akash Mehta: It's actually been the biggest blessing of my life. So yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: It's so lovely to hear that as well. So I've got two sisters myself. Yeah. And we've worked together in some capacities before, but I think, like you said, going full in on a business together, it's quite a scary thought because, I don't know about you, but in the Punjabi families, right, there's a lot of people, when they get older, the siblings fall out over small things, right?And you're worried about that, right?

Akash Mehta: My father worked in his family, you know, family business, and family business is not an old concept. I think [00:24:00] in our generation, it's often quite um, scary because independence is a lot more exciting and they've seen fallouts when it comes to, you know, larger revenues or exits when brothers or sisters start to like, you know, Oh, we don't talk to their auntie or uncle anymore.

Akash Mehta: And that's something that, you know, I had to be careful of, but that's when I said to my sister on day one, and we cried in this meeting, we had a lawyer and then we talked about. all the permutations of what could go wrong. Nikki has a relationship partner. Oh, this person now is telling Nikki, make sure you get the money in cash out.

Akash Mehta: You're putting in more work this month. You know, you get persuaded, you get coerced. We thought about everything and we put down protection mechanisms. And I think by having that healthy talk at the beginning has made us today, when we're starting to see seeds of that come to life, like, Oh, I'm fighting, or you're not coming to the office.

Akash Mehta: We go back to that moment. Stop. Let's move on. And actually, when you build that and you start building the brand even more, that's becoming bigger than us. I owe it to the company, the team, my retailers. We have to put those differences aside [00:25:00] and go forward. And at the end of the day, the antithesis and background behind this whole brand is our grandma, our late grandparents, and we owe it to them to put them into a good light and put our differences aside in those moments.

Akash Mehta: But I definitely still think it's something that if you can work with your sibling, like do put, be smart, set boundaries. But just don't forget to remember that you are siblings first, business partner second. So we have to have those healthy moments of like, let's just watch a film or let's go on a holiday, but no work, you know, and that's very, very important.

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah, I think that's so  important even for people listening who maybe think they're doing the same thing to even understand that you had that process at the beginning. Because sometimes people are awkward about that kind of thing, but it's so important.

Akash Mehta: You know, if you think, if you feel you trust this person, which you do, because, you know, you know, this person for life, you might be like, we'll talk about later or like, you know, we're good.

Akash Mehta: I trust you. You trust me, but no. You've got to have that meeting and have it in writing, have a joint venture agreement, have a shareholders agreement, like put it in proper because you're doing it not for you and your ego. You're doing it for your [00:26:00] team. You're doing it for your stakeholders. But why it's so important to also have this fun moment is because as you grow in the business, if your relationship and your last years, which you remember the most, because that's the most recent is built on business talk and meetings, you will start losing That relationship that inherently makes you stronger and even becomes your superpower when it comes to business.

Akash Mehta: So we have to put in those moments of, okay, like we're going to this, uh, premier of this film. I'm taking you. You're my plus one. And often they'll be like, I always work with you. You're not my plus one. It's like, no, no, no. Like even fun stuff. You're my plus one. I got you. Um, that's like, I think that's been really nice because that's when I really get closer to her.

Akash Mehta: And actually, the next day when we get into the office, I'm like, I feel even like more excited to work with her. 

Amardeep Parmar: And you had a recent launch, right? And that's where you've just come back from. Can you tell us a bit about that? What's the idea behind that?

Akash Mehta: So our brand has been premised on pre wash and wash products.

Akash Mehta: So, right, you know, we've had shampoo conditioners on our hero product, which is the Serol. And it's been amazing. Like our product has been all over. We were on the House of Dragons set, Stranger Things [00:27:00] uses us. Like it's got to places we couldn't imagine. But one thing that we started to especially from these films and TV was people are always asking for styling like post wash and like, Hey, like, okay, now we need something after we come out of the shower.

Akash Mehta: So we knew we needed to do this. So we launched Maha Mane.. Maha means great, mighty, like Maharaja. And Maha Mane is basically a main care range. So styling range that will start to develop a lot of exciting products in the line. We launched though as an oil brand with naturally with a post wash oil. So this is a styling oil.

Akash Mehta: That has heat protection. But the most exciting part of Beyond Product is the fact that we were unable to incorporate in this campaign, my mom as the face. So this whole journey, my mom, uh, bless her. She's always been like, okay, like the grandma is a story. Grandpa is the healing element of it. Dad is the mentor slash investor.

Akash Mehta: Where the hell am I? Like, hello, I'm here. And so we're like, finally like, okay, welcome to the tribe. You're part of the Fable in Mane Tiger tribe. And she's the face. And oh my gosh, it's been the most incredible thing. My first day on set with seeing her, I cried. Because I saw her like, um, in [00:28:00] the, in the campaign video, she was twirling.

Akash Mehta: She'd been cut that dancing. Her hair was so beautiful, her face, her smile. And I was like, she's in her element. And I actually realized like I want to own all our campaigns and she's beautiful. If you see him, if you go in Fable and Mane, you go mainstream, you'll see my mom. She's absolutely, she's a blonde hair.

Akash Mehta: There's nothing like me, but she is someone that’s in and out. Without her, I wouldn't be here. So I think it's just been so nice to have her part of the campaign. And then we went a step further because Sephora was, and retailers were like, look, we want to show diversity in the campaign. So we need different models, different hair textures, hair types.

Akash Mehta: And often that equates to, um, unfortunately that sort of tech checkbox approach when it comes to marketing, like we need an Asian model, an Indian model, a white model, like, you know, you need Caucasian model. You will start needing this checkbox. And I was like, That doesn't, that goes back to my meetings in these big companies where I was like, okay, well, South Asians were never even on that checkbox.

Akash Mehta: And secondly, like this felt very tokenism approach. So I thought, well, actually the brand is reaching an eye of IDA, but there's so much [00:29:00] diversity in, in, in, you know, South Asian countries. Why can't we celebrate that? So our whole campaign was celebrating South Asian diversity and culture. And we had an all South Asian cast with all different hair types.

Akash Mehta: So when you look from the back, you were like, Oh, that's a very diverse shoot. And then you turn around like, gotcha, it's us, you know, so the whole story is like made by us, but for all. And that's been a really successful campaign. And my mom is the main face of that. And I've had like my friends and models and yeah, and, and me and my sister and, you know, why I put my family in is because I never saw people like us.

Akash Mehta: you know, on billboards. So why can't I put people like us on billboards? And, and also it's cheap for I don't have to pay myself. So no, no, no usage rights there. 

Amardeep Parmar: So that's one of the  things I see as well is because sometimes people are very cautious about using their own face and their own brand. It's like, you're free rather than pay some influencer huge amounts of money.

Akash Mehta: It's free. Yeah. We have a bit of ego. I'm not going to lie. Like I like seeing my face sometimes here and there, like no one else will put my face in there. So I might as well, if I'm paying for the space in the billboard, might as well put my face. But also like, you know, as a founder-led brand [00:30:00] and why I created my podcast, Founded Beauty, it's, I really feel the champion ness of like founders and putting them into light and their advocacy, their love for the brand is so important to connect

Akash Mehta: deeper. I mean, if you were going to speak to a spokesperson of a brand or a sales representative or the founder, who would you buy from? The founder. And you know, all of them are paid or incentivized to sell you the product anyway, but the founder can innately talk about the experience to why the love.

Akash Mehta: And I think that's very important. So I think seeing the founder and campaigns is sort of where I want to see the industry go more and more. And also often like the founders will relate more to people than the most beautiful high fashion and model. Because that's more like realistic, I think, for a lot of the consumers.

Akash Mehta: And that's what I wanted to do is kind of rethink the narrative of how we consume ads, advertorial editorials, and make it a lot more connected. 

Amardeep Parmar: It's really good to hear like what you've done there, but you've done so many successful product launches now. And obviously you learn each time you do it. What are some of the things that you made sure you did in this one that you learned from the mistakes you did in the past?

Akash Mehta: So with product launches or, and I think I'll answer the question a bit more of a [00:31:00] macro perspective with like learning from failures. So failures, number one is so important. I want to rethink the way we think of failures and having failed my second year at uni and thought it was the end all be all, it actually was the biggest blessing in my life.

Akash Mehta: So I think it's how you re think that, re engineer it, and realize, hey, I'm growing armor from this. I'm learning, and that is so powerful. But then, yes, you've got to make sure your learning means maybe you don't repeat. Maybe you realize for next time, what can I do differently? So I think it's about taking notes of everything you've done in the past and making sure you remember and maybe strategize on what you could do next.

Akash Mehta: That's maybe better. So when we had, let's say, a launch and something went wrong, and always something goes wrong. Every single time we make sure we write them down. We speak as a team and we all learn and we all in all our remits. We all know what to avoid and we all learn from each other's mistakes as well.

Akash Mehta: But then, of course, new ones will come, as I said. So this launch again, you think we got it right, right? We had a big launch event and so much money. And then we realized. No one really sent the products in time. So I was like, hang on, the product's not going to come in time [00:32:00] now. So we're having a whole event for a new launch and no one, no goody bags, no product to show, no product to display.

Akash Mehta: What the hell have we just done? And that's something like, we're like, how did this even happen after doing hundreds, like, not hundreds, but like loads of product launches. Um, so we had to like, but then I'm so good because I have this rethinking and I get quite excited. It's quite freaky. I get like, oh my God.

Akash Mehta: Okay, this is a, this is a, I'm a scaper and fanatic. So for me, I think of it as like a puzzle. Let's solve this. So I'm like, Okay, no time to dwell. What good does that do to us? We can blame game. We can think about what went wrong, but let's just focus on the solution now. Later, we'll talk about that. So I go straight into solving mode and I'm like, okay.

Akash Mehta: What we can do, we can send someone from the US, we have a US New York employee, let's send a flyer in, we'll pay for two luggages and let's bring all the product in tonight. That we can guarantee. And that's what we did. And it saved the day. So, and that was a quick thing. I didn't have six hours. I had to literally book the flight in the hour to make it on time.

Akash Mehta: But that's what I would encourage everyone is rethink of how you think of failures. It's not a shame to get excited about them, problem solve them, think of it as a puzzle and then communicate and [00:33:00] learn and digest that so you don't maybe do it again.

Amardeep Parmar:  So obviously now that you've  been done so well with Fable in Mane and obviously your career before, you started investing in other companies too.

Amardeep Parmar: How's that journey started? What are you excited about that?

Akash Mehta: Yeah. So, I mean, so for Fable and Mane, we haven't taken any investment. It's been self funded to the state. So I've never really been adverse into raising or fundraising. But I've always been very passionate about it because for me, it's a way to give back.

Akash Mehta: It's a way to invest in others and bring people up. And on this journey, I've had a lot of people wanting advice or advisory board positions. And then naturally after that, there comes a conversation. Oh, by the way, I'm doing a series or friends and family. Do you want to come on? Like, you know, you're helping me a lot.

Akash Mehta: You might as well get some equity for this or come on board. And I was like, you know what? Like. Yeah, like this sounds really interesting. So I started investing in a lot of different companies and I tried to learn on that process because I never got to learn from my own brand. So I wanted to like always sit down and be like, okay, what is a safe agreement in the US?

Akash Mehta: Okay. Simple agreement for equity. Okay. Now I understand. Okay. But what is this? What is that? And I sat down with everyone,read every [00:34:00] paperwork. And now I feel like I'm a pretty good investor, even if I haven't invested as much because I've read and learned a lot through that process. So investing was first for me to learn and grow, then to empower.

Akash Mehta: And now it becomes sort of an addiction because you love, I love investing in people and being on their journey. Because if I have limited time in my own journey now, at least by investing in others, I can feel and be part of their journey. So that's sort of what I've done. So like I've invested in like, you know, in the wild, deeper costless brand.

Akash Mehta: It's a similar brand. We have both have hair oils, but for me, that's my collaboration over competition approach. And I'm she's one of my best friends, and I love supporting her. I'm invested in this incredible brand called Dirty. It's a mushroom tea by Andy and Simon Salter. Um, and this is where I feel like it's not just beauty, right?

Akash Mehta: I want to expand it to wellness and things that I'm passionate about, and I want to see more of in the world. So let's watch this space. And if anyone's,it has a brand or some product. Point concept that the thinking about investing, you know, don't feel, you know, feel, don't feel shy to DM people because they might just want to invest in you.

Amardeep Parmar: And what kind of  things do you look for when you're trying to pick who to invest [00:35:00] it in and whether or not it's a good investment for you?

Akash Mehta: For me, my, my, I have a CFO and he goes more deeper and I, I kind of outsource that cause I'm terrible at the nitty gritty and I, I will just go by passion of everything, but you got to be smart.

Akash Mehta: Is it the right evaluation? Is it the right amount? Blah, blah, blah. But I look for unique idea. I look for passion in their pitch and really like drive to grow something into the industry that hasn't been there before, maybe has been there, but needs to innovate and change. And the person. For me, it's like, I just want to make friends, be on the journey with you.

Akash Mehta: And I tend to be an investor that's not like that informant. Like I don't need information every minute. I don't need what's happening. I don't need the ROI. It's probably a bad thing to say as an investor, but I'm not doing it to get a four X, five X. I'm doing it to be on this journey with you and grow and make an impact in this world.

Akash Mehta: It's why with Fable and Mane, when we exit eventually my, most of the funds I do will go to our, our, our Fable fund, our charity, because I'm not doing this to put money in my pocket. I'm doing this to make an impact in the world. Same with my investments. [00:36:00] I'm not doing this to make more money for me. We're going to come in this world, we come in this world alone, we leave this world alone.

Akash Mehta: I don't need more and more of that. I just need more and more impact. And that's what I want to do. So I'm an impact entrepreneur and an impact investor. 

Amardeep Parmar: So your charity work has a lot to do with, like, in India, with tiger conservation and things like that as well. So I know that Nikki talked about that a lot and we're short on time.

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. So if anybody is interested in that, make sure you check out Nikki..

Akash Mehta: Check out Nikki's. And she's just as equally passionate as I am. The Fable Fund is. It's super exciting. We're going to go into documentaries and just raise awareness and raise, I want to raise a million dollars by next year. Um, but the one thing I'm doing, which were interesting with this charity is we're doing all with our personal money first, building the relationships on the ground with the local organizations and charities before we open it up as a public NGO and charity, because I feel better.

Akash Mehta: I first test the grounds and try with my own money before I take other people's money. And then later, if people want to support, there'll be many ways. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. So make sure you check that out. And also it's time for the quick fire questions. 

Akash Mehta: Yep. Let's  do it. 

Amardeep Parmar: So, first  of all, who are three British Asians that you'd love to [00:37:00] shout out that you think people listening right now should be paying attention to or learning from?

Akash Mehta: The most first and obvious one is a great question. And sorry if I miss people out because you know, it's uh, three and it's on the things on the top of my head. My sister first, you can listen to her episode, but uh, she is my biggest inspiration in life and someone I would say you should just follow her because, A, you should follow her because she posts everything straight away.

Akash Mehta: I pay, I take time. So, if you want to see the real latest scoop, she just does it sometimes it's so annoying. I'm like, you already posted that. Like I wanted to post it on Fable and Mane first. So she just goes and post it. So she's really on social media and very, very open with her sharing and really fun, really creative content.

Akash Mehta: I I'm not, you can't, I wouldn't say this, but I want to say my dad is amazing, but he doesn't have social media. So don't follow him. If I was in a second person, I would say Jay Shetty. And I would even say, you know, Radhi with Radhi Shetty too. Like basically for me, like I met. Jay recently in L. A. in his home and I was so amazed by how genuinely nice Jay is and how kind and helpful.

Akash Mehta: I got an anecdote, he was like move to L. A. and he said, Oh, if you want me to look for [00:38:00] homes and I'll go visit them while you're, because you're in London, let me do that. Like this guy is the busiest guy in the world and he's willing to go see homes for me. Like I've followed his content for a while, but I never really like consumed it as regularly as I should have.

Akash Mehta: Um, meeting him in person and then now seeing the content like he is incredible. So Jay 100 percent say he's one of the best people in the world. And I think you should all follow him. And the third person I would say would be it's a hard one. Imran Ahmed. He's someone I recently had the luxury meeting with business to fashion voices and what he's doing with business to fashion and now business of beauty is incredible.

Akash Mehta: And loads of people in my life have. told me to meet him. So I think just already hearing that, like knowing that loads of people think I should meet him is already a sign. And then when I did meet him, I was blown away. So those are the three people. Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. So all three of them are great people. Make sure you give them a follow.

Akash Mehta:Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: So the next one is if people are listening right now, they're looking for guidance, what should they come to you about? 

Akash Mehta: No, like I'm one of many people that you should come to if you're looking for guidance. I'm not. I don't have all the answers. I'm [00:39:00] still learning everything. But I think one thing I really feel I can help a lot of people is definitely how to start a business or think about that curiosity of entrepreneurship.

Akash Mehta: Like I'm there to like definitely give some guidance and advice I've gone through to like, uh, how to fundraise or invest being an investor. I think I know a lot of tips and tricks. I know a lot of people I can connect people to if needed. And three, just, I think anyone thinking about going into a complete different industry and have no idea, but have that curiosity.

Akash Mehta: I hope to be an advocate for that, being someone who went from engineering into social media, and then from social media into brand building. Like, you know, I haven't really looked at what is on my CV should dictate. What is my path, my path and my future and when I hire, I certainly do not look at that either.

Akash Mehta: And I think a lot of new entrepreneurs and CEOs are looking at the person, the energy and the drive, less than what's more on that piece of paper. So that should be a hopefully like a comforting thought to know like you might feel jaded and stuck right now in what you do. You might start to [00:40:00] feel not that happy.

Akash Mehta: Just experiment, try it. And if you need to speak to a few people, Speak to a few people just to get reassured. But honestly, you got it within you. Just go for it. 

Amardeep Parmar: And then on the  other side, what's something you're looking for help with right now? What's something that somebody might be able to help you with?

Akash Mehta: One thing I'm definitely looking at help is, and this is funny because I'm a millennial, I'm trying to like get better with the Gen Z's. So definitely like more Gen Z's I can speak to, learn about their, you know, what they need. Especially as a hire, you know, team is one of the hardest factors. Like, I pride myself by being a great manager and I've built a really great, uh, you know, employee and, and company, uh, culture, but it's not easy, right?

Akash Mehta: ‘Cause you get now this whole new shift of like, um, working from home and people have different kind of requests. And it's very different to before when you build a company. So I just want to make sure I build a perfect workforce that balances the new generation Z and their needs, plus the millennials needs, plus the baby boomers needs and, you know, having them all sing because I'm having a lot of conversations with baby boomers being [00:41:00] upset with Gen Z and Gen Z being upset.

Akash Mehta: And you know, it's, it's hard to balance it as someone who's now managing everyone. So anyone who's sort of figuring out that mix, let me know your secret formula. I think it just takes time and communication. 

Amardeep Parmar: So I've really enjoyed interviewing you  today and hearing your story. Have you got any final words for the audience?

Akash Mehta: My last final word is my motto in everything is more collaboration, less competition. If you are feeling, you know, you are the only one in the industry or you're one of many, you. Doesn't matter. Just communicate, collaborate, and be so strong-minded with your own path, your own journey. That is your beacon, not other people's opinions.

Amardeep Parmar: Hello. Hello everyone. Thank you so much for listening. It meets a huge amount to us and we don't think you realize how important you are because if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you leave us a five star review, it makes the world of difference. And if you believe in what we're trying to do here, to inspire, [00:42:00] connect and guide the next generation of British Asians.

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