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As far as bona fide cool girls go, Diva Dhawan is a card-carrying member of the club. The model, fashion entrepreneur, and the host is more than just a pretty face. She is real, relatable, and all about the good vibes.

Diva Dhawan

Take her Instagram page And Then We Stretch, for instance — it is the daily dose of positivity we all need on our social media feeds that is often filled with one too many haters. Dhawan’s work(out) from home videos, on the other hand, are a welcome reminder to exercise before those extra fries.

Her brand VRTT Vintage that deals with previously-owned luxury goods (which she co-founded with her friends Hanna Strömgren Khan and Gabriella Demetriades) championed conscious consumption long before the pandemic magnified its importance. The lockdown has been a turning point for this New York-raised Mumbai girl, as it has allowed her to revel in me-time and think of ways to carry it forward to her post-pandemic routine as well.

Lifestyle Asia India caught up with Diva Dhawan to understand how the lockdown has changed her idea of ‘the good life’.

What would you call ‘the good life’ as of today?

Diva Dhawan: The good life to me is trying to find that perfect balance between your work and personal life. It’s also about being conscious of what you’re spending your time and energy on. ‘The good life’ is in the simple things — dinner with friends, a night in watching an old movie you love, or a lazy morning where you can take your time to start the day.

 

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The only games I like to play

A post shared by Diva Dhawan (@diva.dhawan) on Jul 16, 2020 at 5:29am PDT

How has this idea changed for you over the past three months?

Diva Dhawan: The good life we earlier aspired to was mostly ticking boxes or checking things off a list. But we’ve now understood that it is really about living in the moment. The last few months have made me realise that we were always chasing something — a holiday, a job, an assignment. We were chasing moments rather than living in them.

So, in a COVID-19 life, we will stop glorifying this ‘I’m so busy’ mentality. Busy or not, it’s important to sink into how you feel on a given day. You could be sitting at home, with only one task on your list for that day. But if you’re truly present when performing it, that is a good life.

Are there any activities you have pursued in the past three months to create ‘the good life’ for yourself?

DD: I’m a morning person and that is one of the things that helped me. I toyed with the idea of snoozing in a little bit and let myself have a few weeks of that during the lockdown. It felt good to go off schedule and have a different pattern where I was sleeping and waking up later than usual. While it felt nice for a bit, I did realise how much I missed my morning routine once I got back to it.

Teaching Pilates is also something I’ve been doing more actively during the lockdown. I’ve always had a passion for fitness but never really had the time to share it with others. Now that everyone’s at home and aching for some movement, it turned out to be the perfect time to help others learn more about Pilates.

 

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A post shared by atws (@andthenwestretch) on Aug 12, 2020 at 6:13am PDT

What does a typical ‘good life’ day look like?

DD: I love waking up and having some time to chill — read in bed, have my two mandatory cups of coffee, check in on my family and friends, and just have a slow start to the day.

Your ‘good life’ recommendations for the following.

DD: A wellness tip: Hydrate! You may not be moving as much, so you might not feel as thirsty. But it’s important to just get that H20 in there. I also like to jade roll every morning — it’s almost like giving yourself a mini spa.

Fitness routine that has worked for you: Pilates — it is a low impact workout that almost everyone can do.

Restaurants you love to order in from: I love pizza, and I’ve been ordering them from The Greedy Man Pizzeria (Linking Road, Mumbai) and Gustoso (Khar, Mumbai). I also discovered Boojee Cafe in Bandra that does a great omelette and delicious coffee. Kitchen Garden and Suzette Bakery have also been staples.

Beauty routine that works for you: I have been wearing a lot of bright lipsticks — it’s a refreshing way to brighten up your Zoom call look.

Places you are looking to travel to once you can: Israel is on the bucket list and my friend is constantly tempting me with photos from there. And apart from that, home — New York!

Gadgets and apps that make your life easier: Anything that has connected us virtually. So, Zoom and Google Hangouts… thank you! Other than that, it’s mostly social media apps. I miss TikTok but I guess we can live without it. I’ve been using the Amazon app a lot too. As for gadgets, definitely my tripod.

Diva Dhawan

What are you doing about sustainability or the environment?

DD: VRTT Vintage — while it’s not new, the lockdown has allowed people to understand where we are coming from. Our business model is based on the resale of luxury goods, and it is driven by the desire to not stop shopping but rather to do it in a more eco-conscious way.

Self-care, self-love – what does this mean to you?

DD: It’s about understanding the things that help you unwind. It needn’t necessarily be healthy — self-care for me could be eating a pizza (which I often do). It is about doing what makes you feel good. But self-care is also about cultivating a routine with nutritional value, both externally and internally. I’m huge on my skincare routine as well. I make sure to give myself a head massage or mini facial once or twice a week.

Diva Dhawan

Has the lockdown made you reassess your priorities?

DD: More than reassessing my priorities, the lockdown has made me act on my priorities. We all have these lists in our head. But it’s pointless if you don’t do something about it.

What’s your main goal this year in creating ‘the good life’?

DD: My goal is that when we step into the ‘new normal’, all these lessons we’ve learnt won’t just be reduced to stories. And that we will act with intention every day to build them into new habits. For instance, you may have used this time to get into fitness or write or take an online course. But why did we need everything else to stop for you to do this? So, whatever you’ve discovered, don’t give it up or get distracted once you start working full-time or travelling more. Don’t let life come in your way. This pandemic has been the ultimate push to slow down. And we need to carry that awareness forward.

All images: Courtesy Diva Dhawan

Praachi Raniwala

Raniwala is a freelance fashion, luxury and travel journalist, and a brand consultant. She has a degree in fashion and lifestyle journalism from London College of Fashion, and previously worked as a features writer at ‘L’Officiel India’. You can now find her words in ‘Vogue’ and ‘Condé Nast Traveller’ among other publications. The writer is based in Mumbai, but her heart belongs to London.