A much needed platform that shines the light on India’s burgeoning youth. And they know curation. I caught up with Mandovi Menon, one of the co-founders of Homegrown on her inspiration, discoveries in the alternative music scene and the vision for Homegrown.
What inspired you to set-up Homegrown?
I think all three of us would answer this question differently given our varied creative backgrounds and interests but if there’s one thing we all agreed on – it was changing the youth narrative in our country. India has plenty of websites dedicated to specific interest groups, solving their content needs etc. but not one place which was weaving it all together and encouraging people to develop the curiosity to explore further than their own interests. Our common denominator here is the young audience and we wanted to develop a platform that would not only cater to all their content needs but also simultaneously give them a voice. Homegrown was built with the thought of creating an online community or a lifestyle that could also be translated into a ground experience through events.
What’s been your most interesting discovery on Indian youth culture with the research you’ve deep-dived into?
That’s never ending. It’s the best part of our job because everyday we discover that there’s so much more to discover. Nearly 70% of our population is made up of the youth and they’re undoubtedly more open-minded than even we could have imagined. They’re quite literally begging to be exposed to fresh information whether or not it goes against their beliefs and the beautiful part about it is that they’re willing to accept other perspectives and be influenced by it. All three of us follow a similar philosophy so it was validating and amazing to see just how many like-minded individuals are out there!
One key thing we have uncovered though is the sheer volume of sub-cultures that have been developing all across the country, across every facet be it art, fashion, sport, music whatever. And we’re dedicated to providing them a place to both be discovered and to discover.
Has the platform received international recognition? And if so, what’s the reception been like towards what’s happening with alternative youth culture in India?
Yes, there’s been a stream of positive international response but there’s still a long way to go before we become seamlessly integrated with an international community of like-minded people and that’s one of our major goals.
We’ve been mentioned by Paper Mag in New York, various data / research companies have reached out to distribute their India related content, the ex-editor of Rob Report called us ‘India’s answer to Dazed Digital’ and expressed surprise to see something like Homegrown doing the rounds; the ex social media head of VICE said he was happy to finally have a place where he could discover how much is really going on with India’s youth culturally; and we’ve been approached by a few other international magazines and institutions as well to collaborate on future projects we’re excited about.
I’ve noticed you’ve got a section dedicated to Music. No doubt integral to youth culture. What’s your prediction to music culture’s influence on youth in India?
Love this question but there’s no need for prediction because the influence has been apparent for centuries and not just in India either. I find that it’s the youth’s preferred choice for both artistic expression and outlet for their angst and honestly, music is just the most inclusive art form there is. In a society as class-divided as ours, music festivals/concerts end up bringing more young people together than any rally ever could and that’s important to note because that energy can be channelled so positively.
I could cite hundreds of specific examples of the extent of its influence but I’ll sum it up by saying India’s youth need to band together more than ever right now. Thus how young people are choosing to express themselves, not to mention the expression they relate to the most has to be the biggest influencer of a changing narrative.
Do you hope to inspire / have you inspired beyond India’s urban middle echelons? Or is this a vision for the future?
It’s absolutely something we’re working towards. Lots of people think that we’re extremely niche and we get where they’re coming from but while urban middle echelons will always remain our primary target audience, all of Homegrown’s philosophies are rooted in ideas of accessibility and inclusivity. We understand just how diverse our content needs to be for that and we want to reach out to the right people both in urban and non-urban spaces who can help evangelise the Homegrown brand within their own networks.
Our theory behind this is pretty simple. Inspiration starts with yourself; if you can do that, others will be easy and we really want the unique, young voices beyond this segment to realise they this platform is just as open to them to both inspire and be inspired. We just want it to happen organically.
Interviewed by Amrisha Prashar