“Despite living in what people call a slum, I adore my life! My hope is to become a supermodel and support my family’s meals.” These empowering words, written by a teenage girl from Mumbai’s Dharavi slums, will inspire you to aim for the stars. We’re talking about Maleesha Kharwa, the remarkable 15-year-old fashion model who has now become the face of Forest Essentials, the prestigious luxury skincare brand, for their latest campaign, Yuvati Selection.

A captivating video of Maleesha visiting one of the brand’s stores in Mumbai has captured hearts across social media platforms. The video shared by Forest Essentials on Instagram showcases Maleesha entering the store with an infectious million-dollar smile. As she spots images from her own photoshoot displayed there, her emotions are vividly apparent. The caption reads, “Her face lit up with pure delight, to see her dreams in front of her in sight. Maleesha’s story is a beautiful reminder that dreams really do come true.”

Maleesha Kharwa has also posted a campaign video with the brand on her Instagram handle, where she states, “There’s beauty in every step of the journey, and we are celebrating it, one ritual at a time.”

Let’s take a look back at her journey in the world of fashion: Affectionately known as the ‘Princess of the Slum,’ Maleesha Kharwa is not just a model but also a social media influencer who aspires to be a supermodel. Initially residing in a slum with her father, uncle, and younger brother, she now lives in a “chawl-like area” in Mumbai. Her journey began three years ago when Hollywood actor Robert Hoffman discovered her during the COVID-19 lockdown. In 2020, while in Mumbai to shoot a music video, Hoffman was in search of an authentic slum dweller for a project. Although he initially hired her cousin for the role, he recognized Maleesha’s potential and supported her dream of becoming a fashion model.

Hoffman set up a GoFundMe page and social media accounts for her, with plans to provide her with a phone equipped with a good camera. He believed she could maintain contact and continue high-quality vlogging for her fans. Alisha, Hoffman’s associate in India, later joined to manage Maleesha’s career, and from there, her journey soared. Maleesha graced the covers of various magazines, including The Peacock Magazine’s October 2020 issue, where she collaborated with renowned designer Falguni Shane Peacock.

Fast forward two years, and Maleesha achieved another milestone as she appeared on the cover of Cosmopolitan India.

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