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.”
From modelling to law
“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.
Later, Archita moved to Frankfurt and enrolled herself for a PhD.
Switzerland – 2006 and beyond!
Archita’s next move was moved to Switzerland. By now she was married. She says: “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 first-born was 6 months old.”
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 lead 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.”
Being a wife, a mother of two and adjusting to a new lifestyle kept Archita occupied. But soon enough it was time to get to work again.
Work: 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.
She knew she wanted to get back to work and 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. “After a year, one of my colleagues became independent consultant and I began working for his company on fundraising consulting projects, where we built 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.
With a smile, 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. Life has been good in Switzerland!”
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