Started From The 570 Now We Here
Photo by Andrew Werner
Hi ladies and gents, we’re here. After six long years of working on my fashion blog, I made a website for you fashion lovers and dreamers. When I was little, however, fashion wasn’t the career I wanted to take. I have always had a significant interest in hockey, and that was something I wanted to pursue more. I grew up playing hockey, writing hockey games every day, collecting the Monday newspaper about the local hockey club, going to autograph sessions, open skate, and more. I was obsessed with hockey and everything about it.
Growing up I was always the quiet, shy, and insecure one. I didn't do much and always kept to myself during my school years. I didn't socialize at all, which was fine for me because coming home to a book to read or a game to play was something I enjoyed. I had my group of friends at school, but even then I would stay to myself and go out with them here and there. High school, I definitely wasn't the popular one. I tried to make jokes, laugh, fit in, but it didn't work. My junior and senior years were my confident years where I slowly began to find myself. I was still my shy self but that was okay. Dating wise, I never had the confidence to talk to any girl, and never really had a girlfriend.
Hockey was the way to keep me happy. I would always talk about the game, the trades, the playoffs, and even pretend I was GM for a day whenever the season was over. I also made a PowerPoint presentation and was able to show former Penguin player, David Koci my work. It was my everyday life, and I was confident it would become my career. With all I learned, I wanted to coach pro hockey, but I wasn’t sure how to go about that. By the time I had to decide what my plans were going to be after high school I wasn’t sure.
My second interest was real-estate. Real-estate was comfortable because I was and still am, detailed orientated and love art. I wanted to sell houses or flip houses in California. But I didn’t feel that would be a move I would be making right away, so I thought long and hard of what else I liked. And realized, I also liked to dress nice. In high school, I always was into style and trying different things. Buying clothes and looking at pretty photos out of magazines and advertisements. That sparked my interest in fashion.
Fashion was an unusual local hobby. Growing up in an area known more their pizza, Church Bazaars, The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, dodging potholes, The Office, a popular supermarket called Gerrity’s, slang words like “heyna”, The University of Scranton, funny ways to call Wilkes-Barre, Wilkes-Bar, and more. Fashion was not on the local radar. As I grew up liking hockey and the way things worked, the business, and how people tick and do certain things; this led me to grow interested in the business and lifestyle side of the industry instead of the core focus of the clothes in fashion.
At first, I wanted to go to school to learn the industry and to find out what I liked. That soon was found. I was going to college for Fashion & Retail Management and realized how much I hated it. I went to college at The Art Institute of York, PA and then transferred later on to The Art Institute of Philadelphia, PA for Fashion Marketing. I learned the same. Some things I took to my career today and other things, I left behind that bored me. I eventually graduated school in 2015 in Philadelphia with a Bachelors of Science in Fashion Marketing. But the other side to this is a story. I found my way, saw who I was, and what I wanted to do on my own.
When I was attending school in York, I started a fashion blog, in 2012. Starting a blog I was hoping it would open doors for me to work in the industry, but came to realize, that it opened doors for me to work on my own. At first, I started to upload fashion photos randomly all over my Facebook into a fashion album I created called “That’s the fashion world, it’s crazy.” I realized what people liked and what they wanted to see. I then began to take my friend's photos off their Facebook pages and turn them into fashion advertisements. A few months later, I began making my own photos and creating advertisements with them doing photo shoots. After that, I did photo shoots without ads and started to develop editorial prints on my own. I would interview friends here and there about their hobbies and interest. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I felt like this something that would pay off in my future. The more I was doing this; it became amazing to see what others thought, how many people started to follow me and was willing to work with me on chasing my dream to work in fashion. I didn't feel I was the smartest person to work with because I made a lot of mistakes, but I felt I was doing something different.
In the summer of 2012, I transfer schools to Philadelphia for Fashion Marketing. I thought that being in a big city like Philadelphia would help my career in fashion, and I came to realize soon after that, it didn’t. I wanted to attend Philadelphia Fashion Week, I heard how great it was so I started out, going to shows on my own to meet with different people and try to learn as much as I can, but I came to realize soon after, that everyone was only after themselves and not interested in helping anyone. The more I was there I realized that everything I was seeing was the same, it wasn’t anything different or unique at all. So I started to do things on my own and take a stab at The Big Apple with my blog.
A few months before going to New York I started a campaign called “Follow Your Dreams.” I wrote Follow Your Dreams on a sign and began to ask individuals what their stories and dreams were. That took off. I started selling clothes with Follow Your Dreams on them, and people would buy them with their names on the back, which also took off. I became in touch with my soon to be good friend Eila Mell, now a family friend, from Project Runway and started to work with her during New York City Fashion Week.
I wasn’t sure what New York Fashion Week was, but I was determined to learn as much as I could and soak up as much information that I was able to. I would attend shows, parties, and events every single season. The more fashion week's I attended, the more I kept my blog going. I started to do stories about what I was seeing and learning. I did interviews with editors and celebrities and had a clientele growing. I was getting people to tell me their stories with my Follow Your Dreams sign, making mistakes and improving from them, interning in New York, and so much more. All under my name David Kester and my blog, Mahipal SoCal. The more I did this I didn’t think I was doing anything different from other media outlets and that was what I wanted. I wanted to be different. I wanted to be the best. I didn't want to be like everyone else who was there.
So I thought long and hard, and I started to read more books and understand myself and learn who I was and what I was. I learned that I’m not an outgoing person and that is okay. I learned that I didn’t know much about fashion and that was also okay because I knew a lot about business. I knew how to talk about business and felt I can push that into fashion with a unique view that major outlets were holding back. I knew without sounding biased and opinionated, I would be able to create stories for everyone and make money fast.
I began to see what other media outlets were doing and showing. Where the money was coming from and where the money was leaving. I figured it out and put it together. I think fashion is a great industry, but a lot of things go unnoticed. When editors and writers and brands focus on the same, it loses the unique look it once had. And talking about everything doesn’t help. I feel there are some colors missing in the fashion industry that people are not aware of. And sometimes, you need to shine a light on them to stand out. I came to realize what I have to offer is more than just a blog. It’s a publication – if I make it into one. So I did. A new, third party, New York Fashion Publication called Mahipal SoCal - soon to be Mahipal.
It’s been a secret, and I have been hesitant to reveal what Mahipal SoCal means. The name for the blog was out before the Follow Your Dreams project was, but the meaning of it is what makes the connections. So here you go. My name is David, but my real name is Mahipal. I was born in India and was adopted by my mother and father, Debbie and Joe Kester in Larksville, Pennsylvania. I grew up in the 570. Fast forward to my fashion years with my Follow Your Dreams project. The idea is I ask individuals who I run into what their stories and dreams are along with where they are from. Just like the name, Mahipal SoCal. I was born in India (what Mahipal means), and my dream has always been to live in LA (what SoCal means). When you put the two together, it’s like where I was born to where I want to end up, like following your dreams.
My dream was never fashion, but today it is. Whatever your goal is, you may not know where you want to go or what you want to do. But the more you find yourself and learn who you are; the more things fall into place. Follow Your Dreams, break the rules, and don’t follow the typical life setup we are born into. The more you think for yourself, the more the world comes to you.