People Of The Year: The Building-Up Business Of Anita Chhiba

The fast-rising champion of talent is creating a global brand that gives South Asian creatives the visibility they deserve

Anita wears Emilia Wickstead bodice top from Simon James. Wynn Hamlyn trousers. JW Anderson slides from Sisters & Co. Misho by Suhani Parekh hoop earrings. Photo / Babiche Martens. Fashion director / Dan Ahwa

It’s sometimes challenging to separate authentic allyship from the performative, but when creatives at a grassroots level are given the power, there’s an undeniable purity to their mission.

For 31-year-old New Zealand-born, London-based creative Anita Chhiba, seeing a lack of South Asian representation in Western media prompted her to start Diet Paratha, a passion project turned full-time job that began as an Instagram account from her bedroom in New Zealand in 2017, now with a following of 24.6k and rising.

Her digital platform uplifts, showcases and celebrates the dynamic voices of under-represented creatives from the South Asian diaspora. Home for a New Zealand summer before heading back to London in the new year, Anita reflects on the moments that took her breath away in 2021 — including being profiled in British Vogue’s September edition, and being named one of Dazed magazine’s Dazed 100 — a global celebration of next-gen names leading change in their communities.

“I thought, ‘Wow, this is such an honour’. Not long after Dazed, I was approached to work on a collaboration with High Snobiety and Burberry, which was a special moment for me and for the visibility of Diet Paratha.”

Taking advantage of her time back in New Zealand, she recently hosted Diet Paratha’s first New Zealand panel event “Family Meeting”, connecting the creative South Asian communities here who make up a significant number of Diet Paratha’s audience.

READ: Inside Diet Paratha's First-Ever NZ Event Championing South Asian Creativity

It was an opportunity to engage in inspiring discussion not seen enough here in Aotearoa, alongside leaders like Megha Kapoor from Vogue India, trans advocate and content creator Kris Fox, writer and accessibility advocate Latifa Daud, and actor and podcast host Saraid de Silva.

Recently, Anita instigated a shared Google Doc to document South Asian creatives around the world, a centralised resource she believes will help connect the dots and provide a platform for the community to be involved in the various projects that come her way with Diet Paratha.

“The South Asian creative community makes up the majority of my following. I want to feed money back into the community to promote meaningful allyship with all of these projects. It’s about expanding that network. My eyes only go so far, so this is another tool to spread this vital message."

"There’s so little representation to hold on to here, and I have the biggest support and community, so to be able to give our creatives a chance to shine is really important to me."

"As I step into the new year I need to prioritise my health and ensure that, while all these great opportunities are finally coming our way, it’s now about selecting the right projects to ensure that I continue to nurture what feels right to me and to take ownership of our stories.”

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New Zealand Herald

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