Seema Malhotra is an established fashion entrepreneur and star of the Real Housewives of Cheshire.
Since she was a child, she knew she wanted to be become a designer. From sketching garments in her teenage bedroom, Seema went on to thrive in Fashion and Design (BA) at the University of Salford. At 18, she won a coveted space at Central St Martins.
However, after graduation, she was reminded that her family had other aspirations. An arranged marriage to Sandeep Malhotra awaited; an arrangement for which Seema now feels incredibly blessed.
Fortunately, the young newlywed’s ambitions to become a dress designer were supported by her husband Sandeep who was a qualified surveyor and worked weekends on his parents’ fashion business. What began as door-to-door sales soon became a burgeoning business and with the support of Sandeep, and with Seema’s creativity and flair for design, that business is now known as Forever Unique.
A self-proclaimed workaholic who has poured her heart and soul into the Forever Unique brand since launching in 2008, Seema is also a devoted and glamorous mother of two with staunch family values. Her favourite time is family nights at the luxurious family home in Hale Barns with her sons, Neil, 21, who is following in his parent’s footsteps by studying Fashion Marketing and Business and Aaron, 18, who is studying for his A-Levels
Seema has recently become a household name. Last year, she took a leap of faith to join the glitzy cast of reality TV show, the Real Housewives of Cheshire. She has been praised for reinvigorating the show with glamour, style and resolve.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I am Seema Malhotra and I‘m the Design Director and Co-Founder of Forever Unique. From a young age, I have always had a love for fashion and my Indian culture definitely reflected my influence in fashion. My obsession for bold rich colours, luxurious fabrics and beaded detailing led me to study fashion and design at Salford Uni. Soon after, I met my husband and partner, Sandeep, and we started our fashion journey together.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
No, Sandeep and I brainstormed ideas together and both knew that we could create something that the market was missing- glamourous fashion for the everyday woman. We always set ourselves goals and we’ve learnt lessons along the way. We do have a strategy with our collections but the fashion market is constantly evolving so it’s hard to plan your career.
Tell us about Forever Unique – how did it come about? What are your goals for the business?
Sandeep and I started the business as glorified market traders and we would travel in a battered old white van buying, selling and sourcing fabrics from all over the world!
The start of our journey began in 2008; Sandeep worked with his parent’s fashion business, buying and selling in London, Paris and Turkey and I quickly realised that we could start our own fashion line. I worked as an agent for French and Italian brands which began to open doors to a number of niche boutiques and online shops e.g. ASOS. I went on to design a 10-piece capsule collection of dresses which sold out within one week. At that point, we knew that we were on to something and Forever Unique was born. We expanded the collection to over 200 pieces as it stands today, and we’ll be celebrating our 10th anniversary this year which is hugely exciting!
Your husband is also your business partner. How do you separate your relationship from your work?
Sandeep and I have always been a team and are immensely supportive of one another. It just comes natural to us. Sandeep is great with numbers and figures and I am the creative, crazy one which is why we work. We have a mutual respect for one another and are in it together.
We’ve seen Miley Cyrus, Nicole Scherzinger and Kate Middleton wearing Forever Unique and you’ve collaborated with Kendall and Kylie Jenner, but who would you love to see wearing your designs?
There are so many people I would be honoured to dress. Someone like Jennifer Lopez would be amazing because she is a woman of my age and still works it! She is everything that I love about being woman and is a real inspiration to me.
You also star in the hit show, Real Housewives of Cheshire – how did you get involved in this?
I was approached to go on the show a few years ago but declined due to the business and personal reasons.
A couple of years later, I was approached by a producer at ITV at a charity event. At first, I was a little apprehensive as it was way out of my comfort zone, but I’ve met some wonderful people and it’s been a great platform for Forever Unique.
The show is known for its dramas and explosive rows – how do you cope with all the drama?
I try to just stay real and remain the voice of reason. I’ve been brought up to be respectful of others and to treat everyone equally; I will therefore voice my opinion when I am passionate about something but it’s not my style to be too confrontational. I think my family and Forever Unique team has helped me cope with drama. They’ll always give me a pep talk or boost if I need one. They are hugely supportive of me and the show which I really appreciate.
You recently hosted a charity night to raise money for those affected by the Manchester terror attacks – how did this come about?
What happened in Manchester was so tragic and struck a chord with all of us. I just wanted to give something back and bring a sense of unity back to the community. I love to dance as it makes me feel happy so I thought a danceathon would be the perfect idea to lift people’s spirits. We’re actually planning another one this year and plan to make it an annual occasion.
How do you balance all your work commitments and your business with your family life?
I’ve worked my entire life and without my family and dedicated team at Forever Unique, I wouldn’t have been able balance everything at once. They have always been devoted, loyal and continue to be committed to making the Forever Unique brand a success. We’re like one big family.
What advice would give to other female entrepreneurs looking to start out in the business world?
Stay positive, work hard and believe in yourself. We all put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect, but I think making mistakes can shape you as a person and you learn from them. I think staying humble and true to yourself is very important.
Catch the show on ITVBe at 10pm on Monday evenings.