Archita Faustmann has led an exciting life from being a finalist at the Femina Miss India Contest 1999, to being a professional lawyer and philanthropist. Her passion for excellence runs deep as she juggles her role in the country she calls home.
Archita was 22 when she chanced upon modelling. She says, “I had dreamed of going for Miss India ever since I was a child, but I’d never considered modelling as a profession. It just happened. And then, I gave it my best shot.”
Having been a national level athlete, Archita was very fit and naturally slim. In addition, she was photogenic. So getting into the Femina Miss India Contest was not a big surprise for her. What came as a big surprise were the two months of training and hard work that followed.
She reminisces, “We had a gruelling schedule during the days preceding the final contest that started with fitness workouts from 6:30 to 8:00 a.m. Breakfast would comprise a glass of beetroot and carrot juice. Hours of practice in walking the ramp with high heels would lead into lunchtime, where we all devoured a bowl of salad and a slice of dark bread. The afternoons were spent attending workshops by experts from various fields of art and modelling. Long hours of dress fittings and stage rehearsals ended each day on a fatigued note. No matter how tired and exhausted we were, we always had to smile and put a happy face on stage.”
The contest rehearsals in Pune were held in January. “Wearing off-shoulder or strappy cocktail dresses and evening gowns, while shivering down to our bones in 5-degrees was not pleasant. But no one could sense that through our smiles. I believe that the Femina Miss India Contest training in those days was certainly at par with the top league trainers. As by then, many Indian Miss India winners had been crowned with Miss Universe and Miss World titles.” Needless to say, the performance pressure was high.
After the contest, her life in Pune where she continued her studies in law, took an interesting turn towards modelling. “I started getting calls from Bombay-based coordinators and agencies. The offers were tempting and the money involved was good. I appeared for my examinations for the final year of law and moved to Bombay,” says Archita.
Her three-year stint in modelling taught her to be independent and cautious in an industry that was not very professional at the time. “Every agency, photographer and coordinator worked independently. Anyone could approach you saying that he/she is a coordinator. You had to handle everything based on your own judgement: contacts, portfolio pictures, auditions, payment follow-ups, modelling contracts and so much more.”
“The most prominent campaign I did was for Laboratory Garnier. With this campaign everyone in the modelling industry knew that I was out there,” she remembers.
“Always looking good is the toughest job. There were times when our shoots ran into shifts of 10 hours! You keep working until you have given your best shot that is acceptable by all. You have to stick with your fitness and diet regime. A lot of time goes into grooming and styling for auditions. But, on the bright side, you develop a fraternity of sorts. I was fortunate to have good friends within the modelling industry. We helped each other and looked out for each other when things got difficult. When you are together with other model colleagues at the shoot and travelling at different cities for days, there comes bond and closeness that you cannot describe. We were all competitors and best friends at the same time.”
Meeting the man who was to become her husband
“While modeling, I had briefly worked for a law firm in Mumbai. I had also worked with NGOs, and one of them referred me for a scholarship to do my LLM at the University of Hong Kong,” explains Archita.
“Florian joined in the second semester as an exchange MBA student. Since my friends happened to be from his university in Germany, he naturally joined the same group. Florian was my opposite in every way. And, before I knew it, he declared that he was in love with me!”
Archita was not interested in a relationship, but she got drawn towards Florian’s niceness and his respect towards others. Soon it was time to return home. Emails and messenger chats were the only link till Archita moved to Frankfurt and enrolled herself for a PhD. In December 2004, with the blessings of their parents, Florian and Archita had their civil marriage that was followed an Indian wedding in February 2005.
Switzerland – 2006 and beyond!
Florian’s job brought Archita to Switzerland. She beams positively: “I love Switzerland and the people here. I feel settled and at home. I have been blessed to have really good people around me. You get to know a lot of people through the local community (Gemeinde system) and the involvement within this network.”
She continues, “My first real experience with local interaction was through a mother-and-child playgroup that I attended at the local ‘Gemeinschaftszentrum’ when my daughter was 6 months old.” Archita’s friendship with these ladies continues even 10 years down the line.
Volunteering is another concept unique to Switzerland. “Everyone I know volunteers somewhere or the other. Our area, for instance, organises a Christmas Market each year and people from the neighbourhood come together to make that happen. Opportunities like this bring people together. Another factor that helped me integrate easily was that I spoke fluent German.”
Her complete integration, however, didn’t led her away from the Indian society. She reveals, “I have a large Indian network that keeps me connected to my Indian roots. When I miss my family, especially at festival – it is this friend circle that helps me get by.”
Model, wife, mother and more
“Being a wife is not difficult at all compared to being a mother. My husband and I give each other lot of space and the opportunity to grow. Having enormous trust in your life partner makes it easier,” she says.
But motherhood was another story altogether. “After marriage, I was halfway through my Phd when, in 2006, Fiona was born. My husband was working with a global consulting firm and was travelling from Monday to Friday. So I was practically on my own. Motherhood and PhD proved to be a struggle. Reluctantly, I had to discontinue my Phd.”
Sarah came along in 2009. Life was exhausting and tiring, but content with the thought of raising her children to her best ability. Archita was a stay-at-home mother for 8 years. “Many women have successful careers together with motherhood, but I was not one of them. So from being a model, lawyer and researcher, I was now a homemaker. At times, I even forgot that I had had a different life! But when I look back, I feel happy that I was a part of each and every experience and milestones that my girls went through.
Things that didn’t change
“When you’re a model, you work hard towards having a certain degree of aesthetics in everything you do. I think that quality sticks. Self-confidence never leaves you. So, in times of adversity, you just pull yourself together.” Archita strongly believes in giving life her best shot at all times.
What often nagged her somewhere at the back of her mind was neglecting her profession. Through the years of being a stay-at-home mother, says Archita, “I had a deep urge to get back to pursue a profession and do things for myself. So, once my daughters started school, I enrolled myself for a Diploma in Fundraising Management at the Fachhochschule in Winterthur.”
In 2014, she received her diploma and joined her classmates’ organisation in the field of fundraising on a voluntary basis. The flexibility enabled her to manage her family along with her profession. “After a year, one of my colleagues became independent consultant and I began working for his company on fundraising consulting projects, where we build new structures for non -profit organisations to raise funds. I love this field as it gives me the satisfaction of doing good for the society.
In 2015, Archita directed her passion for cooking into a food blog. “With modeling comes a sense of style and aesthetics. And that has transcended into my blog, which is all about cooking and styling the Indian food.”
As a ‘Dolmetcher for Kreisschulpflege Glattal’, she is involved in the local community activities that include creating and managing the parents’ blog for the childrens’ school in her area.
With a smile, she says, “Being more involved in the social issues is definitely on the cards.”
She concludes, “Today, I can say that I work and manage my family – not always to perfection, but way better than I had ever thought. So far, life has been good in Switzerland!”