This is Rasika. Rasika is a model based out of Toronto. She’s modelled in campaigns for brands like Sephora, Givenchy, Smashbox and many more. Rasika shares with us her unique perspective on selling yourself, and what it was like having her transient lifestyle on literal lockdown during the pandemic.
Rasika, hi, hello! I’m thrilled that we are doing this. I know a bit about you already — but could you please introduce yourself to our SLC community?
Well, I’m Rasika and I have been modeling for the past, I want to say nine years. The first year, I was pretty much in India and then I started traveling all over. Pre pandemic, my base has been New York for the past few years. And then we made this big move to Toronto, and now I live here.
That sounds very glamorous and hectic. I imagine it’s a very go-go-go lifestyle?
Very much so. All at once it would seem like I’d be in LA, and then you’re flying back to New York, and then you’d be heading to somewhere in Europe, with a few connecting flights in between. I’d basically have to be bubbly and also on set. The concept of jet lag was pretty much nonexistent. I didn’t even know what time zone I was in half the time. It’s definitely got a little bit of glamour, but most of it is always go, go, go — and look your best!
That must be a very unique kind of stress?
Yea, I mean, for lack of a better phrase, I am the product. I’m always selling: me. It’s a hard thing to explain. It’s not harder or more stressful than any other job, but it’s hard to explain what it’s like to someone on the outside. It’s just a very different kind of pressure.
Right. And you’re not doing this as a hobby or side hustle.
This is it. It’s not like a nine to five where I go into an interview and then get the job for however long, you know? But in this, and obviously people do have to prove themselves in their jobs, but here you have to just be good at starting all over again, every time, because it’s a new interview and new people every time. Naturally, I’m not a very social person. So that comes with an added pressure. Like having to be that person who is social, at least on set, or bringing that personality. I have to actively practice this version of myself. There are so many people taking great pictures, and if I don’t stand out, no one will remember who I am and that's it.
Yes! Well even when anyone goes for an interview, we have to be these bubbly personalities, even if it relates nothing to what the actual job entails.
So then all this hustle, this constant grind, clearly you were on this path nine years in... and then —COVID. You had mentioned that you were planning on moving to Toronto anyway?
Yeah. My husband moved in 2018. He immigrated to Toronto and the plan was for me to eventually move here to get my residency. And then I’d be in and out, which is what happened. I moved in 2019 officially, but I was in New York more than in Toronto. Then in March 2020 the pandemic hit, and this move that was meant to be a slow transition was very quick.
How long have you and your husband been together?
Oh, more than a decade now.
More than a decade and you haven't lived in the same place! Tell me more.
We had this very functional long distance situation that worked really well because he was traveling too. We would both be away for work, and then back together. Eventually the plan was to move to one place and then do the whole, living together and married thing and all that, but little did we know that we would really be pushed into this thing. We thought we could do it on our terms. What we thought we would do maybe two years down the line, just happened immediately.
How did that feel?
Career wise I was not okay. I had thought maybe I was going to transition slowly and figure out my next steps but the universe clearly had other plans. I really didn’t know what was going to happen next.
Personally, maybe this was some kind of blessing in disguise. Because if work had continued I would’ve been happy, but I wouldn’t have completely moved here. We never would have had this rhythm of being in the same city and planning things together. Even on a practical level, like planning finances, or just like life in general. I could never make any decisions because I never know what’s next with my job. And I mean if we came out of that not killing each other, I think we can make it through anything now.
That’s a massive shift for you both. And this big forced pause, what did you do with it?
Well it’s funny, I started knitting. And I have never, ever had any thought or interest in it before. I always told myself that I didn’t have the time or patience to ever take up something like that. But it emerged in the most practical of ways. I’m always cold and hanging onto all the blankets we have and I thought, I should knit us some blankets so we each have one. Of course the technology gods were listening and I started getting ads from Wool and the Gang for their DIY kits — which they made look really easy. So I started on a simple blanket.
And as I'm knitting, I got so into it. I started to find that it was doing more for me than I realized. I was somebody who was big into meditation and fitness but with the sudden time off, it threw me. I was literally just making food and eating it. My brain wasn’t able to find peace. I was binging Netflix or binging on food, and I couldn’t find anything to shut the noise off. When I started knitting, my brain had somewhere to anchor and it got quiet. It was less chaotic because I physically had something to do and concentrate on. I could finally process my thoughts.
I imagine it’s such a juxtaposition from the kind of lifestyle and work you're used to where everything's so fast.
That is another lesson that I needed, and I’m learning now. I have zero patience. And my job is so in a way that I'm totally grateful for it, but it keeps testing me all the time because I never have control over it. And with knitting, I have control of this. But I’m so impatient. Like I can plan ahead and see what needs to be done, but it happens on its own time, not mine. Sometimes I look at something I’m working on, and I’m like, oh my God, why is this taking so long? And then you look back on the effort that you put into it. That's so much more meaningful than instant gratification.
Knitting also gives me a lot of confidence. I remember the first time I posted a picture with my first sweater on and it was an Outfit Of The Day type post. And I thought, wow, I made that. That was such an interesting feeling. Especially being a model and wearing something I made. I’ve always wanted to explore that creative side and this made me think, okay I can do other things and have them be functional and good.
That’s so cool. And because I’ve creeped your profile I noticed that you’ve also connected with a new knitting community.
Yes! That was fantastic. I never really interact on social media or Instagram because when you’re posting as a model there’s a lot of stuff going on, that you’re better off just not being part of. But with the knitting community, I’ve found people who are so genuine and wonderful and I’ve had the most amazing conversations and DMs. During the pandemic everything shifted online and I would take part in Knit Nights on Zoom with people of all ages and ethnicities. And people have gone out of their way to help me with my knitting — it’s opened me up to an entire community of people I can connect with in such a different way. Plus I can be social and stay home, I’m very happy about that.
I love that. It sounds like you really embraced the slower pace of life over the last little while. With things picking up again, how do you plan on prioritizing your time?
To be honest, I don't think I'm fully ready to go back to the go-go-go. I know that I would want to do it at some point because I know that I miss it to some level and I absolutely love what I do. But I think this time I want to be a little bit more in charge with my choices. And also we’ve now lived a year and half as a family. I don’t think my cats or I will be okay. I’ve been so lucky to have this time in Toronto, I want to work on calling this my home. I’ve never had that. New York was my base for years but now I’ve had the opportunity to develop a life here and I want to see that through; so for now, I’m going to continue taking it slow.