“Changing the way you think changes everything…it saved my life.”
Zara Khalique is utterly sincere when discussing positivity. It became her way out of the darkest of times.
It might sound overly simplistic: think positive and the rest will follow.
But that became so integral to how Zara flourished from an angst-ridden teenager to a woman realising her dream career, that she feels compelled to spread the word.
Anyone tempted to think the 27-year-old commoditised the ‘positive-thinking movement’ for the new Instagram generation to boost her successful lifestyle brand should reconsider.
She talks with authenticity about how, above all else, she wants to help young women just like her who need something to help them through bleak times.
Designer Zara, whose ‘Keep it Bright’ brand boasts over 66,000 Instagram followers with Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus among them, is wasting no time getting the word out.
As a “warrior of light” she has written three top-selling books on self-worth, splashes the message across her clothing range, and on International Women’s Day joined a panel of other successful women at Liverpool Hope University to continue inspiring others with her mantra.
“When I was 15 I was going through a very difficult time,” she says ahead of her speech at Liverpool Hope University's Inspirational Women event at its Creative Campus on Friday March 8.
“It was a family thing and sometimes you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“I made a very good friend online who helped me see there was that light, and to keep going.
“I realised that how you think is everything. Your thoughts inform how you see the world. It made all the difference.
“I wanted to be that friend, the friend who made all the difference to me, for girls everywhere so that was the dream behind Keep it Bright.”
Zara hopes her influential platform on Instagram can benefit women too; a counter-balance to social media’s more negative aspects.
“Comparison is an issue with Instagram and there are accounts which can make you feel bad about yourself,” she says. “But there is so much positivity on there too.
“You get find a sense of community online and it’s up to us to decide wisely who we follow and use it in a healthy way.”
Followers – in particular her celebrity ones – have helped Zara’s influence grow organically.
“I’ve been lucky because I haven’t had to do much marketing,” she explains.
“Someone gave Miley Cyrus one of my books and then one day I woke up and she’d posted four pages of it on her Instagram.
“Ariana Grande just followed me out of the blue too, although they’re friends so maybe Miley mentioned it.
“At the end of the day they’re both girls of a similar ages, good-hearted people and may have gone through the same things we all have.
“They’ve helped me reach more people so I’m really grateful; I always wanted to be a good role model.
"I’m not perfect but we all need more real and positive role models.”