The SheSociety Columnists first met Upma Kite at the launch event for this year’s Ravishing Fashionista Fashion Show. Her warmth and beauty are undeniable , but it is her commitment to building the confidence in all women that ultimately shines through. Her determination to lift up women of all ages, shapes and sizes has seen the Brisbane Fashion Show that Upma founded go from strength to strength.
Now in its third year, the Ravishing Fashionistas Fashion Show, breaks down barriers, gives back to the community, showcases local labels and is expanding to include a modelling academy. Upma’s vision and tireless work ethic have ensured another successful year for this uplifting initiative. SheSociety had to know more and caught up with Upma Kite to find out more about her early life, career and her dreams for the future.
Can you tell us about your early life?
I was raised in Delhi, India, growing up as the daughter of an Army Officer. I always had a strong drive to push myself and achieve big things, which is what I believe has led me to write a story for myself that is different to that of a typical young girl.
I decided to join National Cadet Corps (NCC) Air Wing as the only girl cadet in my State. After being selected as the best cadet and clearing the Pilot Aptitude Test (PAT) I was given the opportunity to fly Cessna before attaining my student pilot licence.
I then joined a 2 year MBA course. During this time I appeared for SSB, to then be selected to join the Allahabad group centre, as an Army Officer. However due to the limited progression opportunity for female officers within the Forces and pressure from my family, I decided to turn down the offer. Once I had completed my MBA, I joined the American Express Bank as a Territory Manager and began my work life.
You have been a fighter pilot, model, and Mrs Australia. Can you tell us about your career path?
Starting out at the American Express Bank as a Territory Manager straight after completing my MBA course, I became quite unsatisfied with the position, not finding it challenging or fulfilling enough. I ended up quitting after one year and joined an Assam Rifles Public School in far North East Nagaland as the Principal. Here I was able to restore the schools lost glory, enrolling an enormous number of local kids.
After the success I had at Assam Rifles Public School as Principal, I then went on and moved to Dehradun where I took on an assignment in Army Cantonment, being shortlisted to take over as the Marital Counsellor at Brigade Headquarters. I found a tremendous scope for rendering meaningful service to Indian Army officers, men and their families. I continued this assignment for quite some time at the Army stations of Dehradun and Tezpur where I also won the Miss May Queen title (2007) in a prestigious fashion show.
I then joined MDI Gurgaon for MBA in a different stream, and upon completion of this course joined a multinational company in Delhi as Infrastructure Manager. In 2015 I then moved to Australia pursuing a business entrepreneur career within events management, Telstra and my modelling career. Which brings me to today, where I am known as an Event Coordinator and published model. Attaining a number of titles including winner of ‘Face of Brisbane’, ‘Mrs India Global 2018’ and ‘Mrs Australia Universal 2019’, as well as appearing in more than 25 high profile fashion shows came next.
Now I have founded my own company Ravishing Fashionistas where I am striving to break stereotypes within the fashion industry surrounding size, age, and ethnicity. Closing the gap in the modelling industry and creating more opportunities for models regardless of their background is my goal. After having now completed three consecutive hugely successful fashion shows, we are excited to be moving forward to continue breaking stereotypes and launch our very own RF modelling academy.
You are the founder of the Ravishing Fashionistas Fashion Show. Can you tell us about the show? Why were you inspired to create this event?
Ravishing Fashionistas is an annual fashion show event, that encourages models of all levels, sizes, ages, and ethnicities to join the movement of breaking stereotypes within the fashion industry, proving that everyone is beautiful inside and out and can be a model.
Each year we select a charity to work with, raising funds and donating a portion of all proceeds made. We, at Ravishing Fashionistas, are all about giving back and are honoured to be able to provide this platform to help people in any way that we can. I am proud to say that each year this event has doubled in size, creating more awareness and hype around the barriers the modelling industry currently upholds and how we are the ones that have the power to change current standards, all whilst giving back to the community.
We select several local Australian Established and Emerging Designers to come on board and showcase their designs on the RF runway using everyday women and professional models. Ultimately empowering all women across the country.
I am most passionate about women’s self-worth and awareness for women’s empowerment, especially within middle aged women. I am currently challenging the modelling industry by saying that size and age are just numbers. I inspire women to embrace themselves by giving them opportunities in the fashion industry. Hence creating Ravishing Fashionistas. I believe that the industry is very biased towards young women. Due to this, I have been inspired to create a platform that opens doors to women of all sizes and ages.
Which charities benefit from the proceeds of the Fashion Show?
For this year’s RF Fashion Show, we collaborated with both the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Cancer Council, donating a percentage of all proceeds to each charity. Giving back is a huge aspect of what Ravishing Fashionistas is about. We really strive to do our part in assisting those in need in an attempt to help everyone live their life feeling empowered, supported and ready to defy all odds.
What is your mission statement?
Our vision is to help the average women from disparate cultural backgrounds to reach their maximum potential and find their uniqueness. Be a better version of themselves. We are setting a new standard where any woman can be a model in their own right and own their confidence irrespective of body types, backgrounds and beliefs.
Who are your favourite fashion designers?
I have many top fashion designers, however one of my absolute favourite fashion designers is Moreno-Marcos which I have had the pleasure to work with on many occasions to date. The woman behind the brand, Sofia Moreno-Marcos, is a local Brisbane based designer who has worked within RF on many occasions.
Which women inspire you?
I am heavily influenced by Mother Teresa. I am inspired by her passion and ongoing motivation to give to the poor and help people from all walks of life. I too hope that I can change the world for good and provide an endless amount of love and compassion to everyone I am fortunate enough to cross paths with.
Do you have a quote to live by?
“BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AS YOU ARE THE BEST VERSION OF YOURSELF”
What are some of your favourite things about living in Brisbane?
I love all the adventurous activities Brisbane has to offer. Some of my favourites include the Sunshine Coast beaches and Mount Coot-Tha. We are so lucky to have so many amazing local places on our doorstep waiting for us to come and explore. I also can’t go past the large array of food options we have. You can find literally anything you want!
What’s next for Upma Kite?
Currently I am working on building the Ravishing Fashionistas brand, creating an even bigger and better unstoppable umpire. We have already pushed so many boundaries within the fashion industry in Brisbane, however there is still a long way to go before it is more accepted globally.
We also are in the process of launching our very own RF Modelling Academy which is set to launch in the coming months. Through this academy we hope to produce resilient, confident women who embody the values RF stand for and are empowered to be confident in their own skin. Starting with a 2-day Intensive Workshop we hope to be able to take this academy world-wide ,creating an platform that welcomes women into a family based modelling community where they feel supported and empowered to achieve a career within the fashion industry.
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.
Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).