Interview – Mala Mansukhani

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Mala Mansukhani is a grandmother, a fashion designer, an entrepreneur, a fitness enthusiast and a philanthropist who epitomizes the modern Indian woman.

What does a grandmother do? I’m sure several clichés are cropping up in your mind. But wait, this is no ordinary grandmother. Mala Mansukhani is an entrepreneur who ran a successful fashion label since she was 17 years old. She soon began exporting her designs to boutiques in London. Her love for fashion came largely from watching her mother do her business. “My mother made the finest outfits and it all looked so beautiful that it left me inspired. “

The 59 year old has three children and three grandchildren. A certified marathon trainer she is also a certified on CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) and First aid and has trained on plyometrics for agility and power. She is currently studying Graphilogy & CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) from Pune and has been part of several ramp walks including for causes that promote gender equality that she did for an NGO.

Mala’s work has appeared in many magazines as well. “When I had my third daughter I pressed pause on the boutique to focus on my baby and reopened years later. I have now shut it down to focus on my company ‘Grow Younger’ as I am at this point in my life more inclined towards fitness and creating a fitness revolution for women over 50.” As part of She has run in many marathons and every Wednesday you will find her at the Nike Run club on the 5 km run.

As the oldest participant and only grandmother in the Gladrags Mrs. India contest, Mala has always challenged stereotypes. “I’ve always had excitement in my life and I’ve never set limitations for myself. I worked out so much that I transformed myself; people refused to believe I had kids and nearly passed out when they discovered I was a grandma! I bagged the title Gladrags Mrs. Courage and I actually witnessed that the limitations we associate with age are our own.”

A fitness enthusiast, staying fit and getting other people to be fit is her passion. Grow Younger focuses on doing this for women over the age of 50. “I have always disliked the fact that we so easily give up on ourselves as we age. We have got to live our lives to the fullest. Getting fit should not be superficial thing – working out helps release endorphins, it makes you happy, and looking good is just the by-product.”  As part of Grow Younger, she runs five batches of 15 plus people to help women aged 50 plus to stay fit via a variety of activities like meditation, yoga, Zumba and the like.

She also recently trekked to Kalsubai, the highest mountain in Maharashtra and admits that it was to overcome her fear of heights. “I was really scared and there were two instances where I felt I was going to die. Despite the conflicting emotions, I loved the adrenaline rush. I believe in the power of the human mind and experienced it for myself.”

Having led a blessed life, Mala believes that it is important to give back. “I have learnt so much from spending time with people in need that it has made me a more grateful person. I have worked with specially abled children, orphans, under privileged children, and with old parents who have been abandoned by their families, and it is been a journey that has been overwhelming to say the least. Giving back is so important, not just with money, but also with your time and genuine care for others. It will transform your life.” She adds that the ability to put a smile to someone’s face is an incredible feeling and encourages everyone to go out and help someone out, in whatever way they can.

And for young women who aspire to be entrepreneurs her advice is simple. “Value yourself and keep your standards high. Keep busy doing the right things so they attract the right kind of people into your lives. Working out is a great way to keep your mind occupied and charity is a great way to build your character. It’s the path to a better you, a better life and a better world.”

When she is not working, Mala loves spending time with her mother, daughters and grandchildren. “We have the best time together. I enjoy keeping myself busy and active, so in my free time I also practice yoga and go for a run.” A firm believer in God, she believes that He will only give you what you can handle and concludes that her complete faith helps her face challenges head on.

This story first appeared in The Sindhian Oct-Dec 2018 issue here: Mala, Mala 1

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