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‘Ma Would Come Home Covered in Coal Dust’: How Nancy Tyagi Won the Internet With Her Designing Talent

‘Ma Would Come Home Covered in Coal Dust’: How Nancy Tyagi Won the Internet With Her Designing Talent

Self-taught designer Nancy Tyagi has taken the internet by storm through her ‘Outfit from scratch’ series on Instagram. Here's how she overcame hate and trolls through her sheer talent.

The first time I came across Nancy Tyagi’s reel on Instagram, I found it quite unique. Not one to consume fashion content, what attracted me to Nancy’s was her sheer effort and talent. What separates this 21-year-old is the fact that she makes outfits from scratch, and takes you, the viewer, through the entire journey. She shows you the reality behind the glam.

Nancy is a self-taught seamstress, and her tryst with sewing began thanks to her Barbies. She used to design outfits for her dolls. Little did she know then that this aptitude would be her breadwinner several years later. 

Nancy has no formal sewing training
Nancy has no formal sewing training.

This Delhi resident’s road to content creation began during the lockdown, and has been a roller coaster of sorts. She moved to the national capital from Baranwa village in Bagpat district of Uttar Pradesh after Class 12 for UPSC coaching. However, life had other plans. 

The lockdown led to a huge pressure on their financial resources, leading to a big question mark on Nancy’s future. Should she ride it out and attend UPSC coaching once physical classes began, or try her hand at content creation? The gutsy teenager (at the time), chose the latter. 

For her, the goal was to give a better life to her mother and prevent her from the hard life she had, working at a factory, day in and out, which exhausted her. When she moved to Delhi with her mother and brother, she had about Rs 2.5 lakhs with her for UPSC coaching. Whatever money was left from that, Nancy invested it in a good camera, lights, and phone for editing. 

The gamble has paid off, as she is slowly gaining recognition for her ‘Outfits From Scratch’ series, providing her family with a good income, and a well-earned break to her mom. 

A rocky road to recognition

Nancy is a powehouse of talent
Nancy is a powerhouse of talent.

The path to fame has been a rather difficult one for Nancy. She started by making transition videos, where she would showcase a dress stitched by her. 

“After buying the camera and the equipment, we had to decide what videos to shoot. I used to watch a lot of transition videos at the time, and decided to try my hand at the same,” Nancy tells The Better India.

Conceptualised, stitched and presented by her while her brother shoots it, these videos had hardly any takers. Most of the videos had about 400 views, she adds. Undeterred, she continued posting everyday, for 1.5 years. Even then, the number of views hardly increased. Some videos got over a thousand views.  

Brainstorming with her younger brother, she decided to change strategies as these videos were not working. The shopping website Meesho’s hauls were trending then, and she decided to try that. The twist, she tried, was some over-the-top dancing and acting in the videos. 

“We were very dedicated to this project. I put in as much effort and took it as seriously as I would my UPSC classes. So when nothing worked, we decided to do some weird acting which people might find ‘cringe’. I was helpless. It was a do or die situation,” explains Nancy.

These videos finally grabbed eyeballs, but the publicity was mostly negative. Nancy was body shamed and received a lot of hate. Rather matter-of-factly, she says but ‘that’s how she clicked’. The online trolls called her ‘skinny’ and were brutal to her. 

But Nancy showed that she’s tougher than them. She didn’t let the negative comments affect her, and worked steadfastly towards her purpose which was to help her mom retire.

“My mother started working in a factory after we moved to Delhi. My father refused to support us financially as he didn’t want me to move outside for further studies. My mother was my rock and brought me to Delhi against our family’s wishes. She would come home covered in coal dust everyday, doing physical labour there, just to fulfil my dreams,” she says.

For Nancy, the problems in real life, be it financial, or watching her mother struggle, were far greater than a comment on social media. She didn’t have the time to be bothered by it as she was busy hustling to give her mother a better life. 

A powerhouse of talent

When her videos started reaching more people, the content creator came up with her concept of ‘Outfits from Scratch’, where she shows you how she sources, stitches, designs and reveals the dress. The first reel in this 100 day series was a hit, where people saw the talent behind the face and realised just how hard she works. 

Recalling her Eureka moment, Nancy says that she was buoyed by the positive comments.

“I just made the first reel on a whim. People loved it and started praising me. They realised that this is my talent. After 10 videos in this series, I knew that this is what I had to do,” she says.

While she had been designing all her outfits since forever, no one really knew that. Now, they were able to see her entire process. She uses a manual sewing machine, which was gifted to her mother during her wedding.

From western outfits to lehengas and kurtis, she designs and stitches them all, with much aplomb. She recreates outfits worn by celebrities, other fashion influencers and some are her own designs too. She’s even made outfits from old sarees. She doesn’t shy away from working with different materials. 

What’s special, as mentioned earlier, is the fact that she has no training in sewing and no one to guide her. With a glint in her eye, she shows you the outfit she’s selected. Then, she rides her scooty, goes to the market, buys the required materials and starts stitching once she’s home. 

What we see is just a 90 second reel, but the entire process, from ideation to execution, takes many days. Her talent is visible in every outfit, as she takes care of every minute detail. For a person with no designing exposure, what she does is truly commendable. 

Through this series, she’s converted all the hate to love and admiration.

Many comments admire her talent and her fans want her to start her own label. 

For Nancy, her goal now is to fund her brother’s education and buy gold for her mother.

“My mother is my biggest inspiration. She sold a lot of her gold for us. I want to buy her new jewellery. She has never done anything for herself, her entire life has been focused on us and our needs. It’s time to fulfil her needs,” says Nancy. 

What’s her mantra to being zen during the onslaught of hate?

“Just accept and own the hate,” she smiles.

Edited by Padmashree Pande

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