Poonam and Priyanka: Brows, Culture + Their Journey to 1 Million
- Ziba Beauty
- Beauty & Trends
Poonam and Priyanka Shah are on a personal journey to expand their already-massive social media following. On Instagram alone, their followers reach is at 196k+. As for YouTube, where it all began for the dancing duo, the twins hope to increase their 284k+ subscribers to 1,000,000 through a special docu-series called “Journey to 1 Million.”
But as these social media influencers put it during a sit-down conversation with us at our Ziba Beauty studio in Downey, CA, numbers can be deceiving. The viral internet sensations who’ve made an online impact through their unique Indian-American dance fusion videos talked to us about the reality that goes into building a sustainable online brand– and how their Indian culture has shaped their identity and careers.
Growing Up Chicagoan-Indian-American
Not allowed to watch mainstream American television, Poonam and Priyanka grew up admiring Indian commercials. When they lived in Chicago, they rehearsed them repeatedly over the phone to their grandmother. Being able to identify with the Indian actors and dancers they saw on television pushed the twin duo to appreciate the arts altogether. “The Indian community in Chicago gave us a platform at a young age,” says Priyanka. “The Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago and Diwali shows, that’s where it all started for us.”
Their big break, however, came years later as contestants on Season 9 of India’s top celebrity dance show, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa: India’s Dancing with the Stars. From their participation in that reality show contest, they were able to secure numerous dance deals and media coverage.
But although Poonam and Priyanka are enjoying their spot in the limelight, they also want to show all the work that goes into building a profitable online brand. “We’re first-generation U.S. born,” says Priyanka. “Our parents are straight from India, came [to the U.S.] 30-40 years back and didn’t have enough to eat. They used to scrub toilets in hotels!”
Growing up with that type of work ethic is what the sister duo attribute to their own personal success. They both graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s College with a degree in business and are passionately chasing their dreams of dancing, acting, and inspiring others to #liveyourbestlife.
But growing up as first-generation Indian American wasn’t always easy for them. Poonam and Priyanka recall being amongst only a handful of Indian kids in their Chicago community. Their lunches, which were always home-cooked Indian leftovers, stood out amongst their schoolmates’ lunched sandwiches and brand-known snacks. “Many times, we felt like oddballs,” said Poonam. “We felt like we didn’t belong.”
Back then, Poonam and Priyanka struggled constantly with not feeling American enough because of their Indian customs and traditions. But as they learned to become centered in their entire cultural identity, they began to embrace all that is them. “We’re Indian and we’re American,” says Poonam. “Our dancing is a metaphor for who we are as individuals because we combine hip hop with Indian dance. There’s no separating the two.”
Brow Service: Sisters. Not Twins.
Speaking of separating the two, we asked the sisters what set’s them apart the most. Their answer: their brows and personality. “My personality is laid back and my eyebrows reflect that,” says Poonam. “I like my brows as natural as possible, almost minimalist but classic and elegant.” Priyanka, on the other hand, refers to herself as being the most aggressive of the two. “I like my eyebrows to be bolder and darker,” she states. “Still feminine, but strong!”
Journey to 1 Million
Currently on their focus plate is their YouTube docuseries “Journey to 1 Million,” where Poonam and Priyanka document the ambiguous journey of getting from 100k to 1M subscribers on the video platform. “We wanted to uncover our journey, to show all the ups and downs of being a full-time social media influencer. Many think it’s a fluff career, but, really, it’s hard work that requires resiliency,” said Priyanka.
In one episode, you see the sister act discussing how although some influencers can earn thousands of dollars per post, that reality is not the same for many social content creators– themselves included. In another episode, Poonam and Priyanka struggle with finding the answer to whether or not they are celebrities themselves. “It’s important to show this type of content because people think success comes so easy,” says Poonam. “But, in reality, everything is going to be a process and everything is going to be a journey”.
Are you a Ziba Beauty client who is also on a journey to create a lasting change in your community and in the lives of those around you? If so, we want to hear from you. Upload your story to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter using #ZibaInfluencer.