Member Spotlight #37: Mahaneela

For this month’s Member Spotlight, we had the pleasure of catching up with the co-founder of Cozy Global, Mahaneela. As a multidisciplinary artist, her work explores the intersections of the global Black experience with a focus on depicting Black and Brown joy. As a creative director, filmmaker, photographer and so much more, Mahaneela is providing a new perspective on what representation looks like in mainstream media. Apart from her artistry, Mahaneela also works as a creative strategist and consultant with artists’ labels, and brands to take their activations and events to new heights. Get to know Mahaneela and tap into her tips below.

shesaidso: Tell us a little more about yourself, and your career journey to date.

“My name is Mahaneela. I am an artist. I’ve been a photographer for almost 10 years now, and a director for 5. My work is centered around Black and Brown joy, documenting the African and South Asian diaspora through music videos, photography, creative direction, music management, DJing and so much more. I’d say my career to date is driven by my community. I’ve been privileged to grow with my peers as we collectively create a new canon of imagery and art that celebrates our joy, and our beauty. For a long time, this work has been necessary but underrepresented and appreciated, but now, I think there’s been a shift — and it’s beautiful to see so many Black and Brown artists flourishing.”

shesaidso: In a Creative Lives in Progress Pep talk, you talk about leaving a philosophy course to pursue the career that you love, what advice would you give to someone who wants to take the risk and pivot to a new career?

“I would say to anyone looking to go down a new path career-wise, if you are able, to take your time with your decisions. It might feel like you just want to quit right now, but thinking long-term about your goals and finding a new opportunity that allows you to get by financially as well as learn transferable skills you can bring to your own projects down the line is key. We can’t all drop out of uni / quit our jobs and immediately thrive. It’s taken me 10 years from when I made the decision to leave until now, when I feel like I’ve only recently started to reap the rewards of all that work. I spent years working full-time in different jobs that allowed me to pick up the skill set needed that I could apply to my own business and projects. I am so grateful for those experiences, even if the job wasn’t my end goal, because it helped me to get here.” [Mahaneela’s Pep talk here]

shesaidso: You have worked on so many cool projects, working with clients such as MAC, FKA Twigs, Adidas, and many more what has been your favorite project to date?

“Ooooh I would say my favorite project to date would be the show I created with Nike, “Come Thru”. It was just such a different experience not only directing a show format but also it being of my own creation. I had so much fun on that project and built so many authentic relationships with the women who made it with me. It was a beautiful sisterhood.”

shesaidso: Cozy Global started as a magazine and is now a full-service creative studio, can you tell us about that journey and some of the biggest lessons you have learned along the way?

“Yes! It’s so crazy to think back in 2014 we were a magazine and now we’re here. It really just evolved as me and Sadé (my business partner) did. Initially, we expanded from the magazine to events, because Sade worked in events. We both were managing artists too, then we started putting on live shows and then would DJ at our parties in London, New York, LA… We always wanted it to feel international. We both were working at labels, and started to get involved in production and directing videos, so it followed naturally for us to use “COZY” when we worked together as it was our thing. There have been so many lessons along the way. I think we’ve learned how to advocate for ourselves the most. And found our own way of how we do business, we’ve learned a lot about what not to do (there are definitely some horror stories) so I think we really try to be mindful of that and the artists we work with because we are artists too.”

shesaidso: As a multi-hyphenate artist, how do you make time to explore your creativity outside of work?

“Through conversations with friends, I feel super inspired. I think we explore our creativity together as we are constantly sharing ideas and art with each other.”

shesaidso: One piece of advice that has impacted you?

“Work smart.”

shesaidso: What songs are in heavy rotation for you right now?

“At the moment I can’t stop playing:

Tamera — Wickedest

Juls ft. Kadiata, Sam Wise & Knucks — Wicked

Sainté — Champagne Shots

Ragz Originale — Brush U

shesaidso: Lastly, how can people reach you if they want to connect?

Instagram! My DMs are open :) Find me @MAHANEELA.JPG

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