Lahore-Mehreen Syed is a super model and CEO of International Fashion Academy Pakistan and an actor. Titled Model of the Year 2013 by Lux Style Awards, Mehreen was the first Pakistani model to have appeared on the cover of the popular Middle East fashion magazine Alamra and is also the Spokesperson of L’Oréal Paris. In an exclusive interview with The Nation she talks about her career and success. Following are the excerpts of the interview:

What is the secret of your success and did you ever imagine that you would be one of the leading models of Pakistan?

To be honest, I never really thought I would be a Super Model one day. It was a difficult journey in the start. When I was approached by Ather Shahzad for modeling, I was attending the first year of my studies at the Home Economics College. I was only three years old when my father passed away. I worked hard to support my family. In the start of my career in fashion industry no one knew me. Even my family did not support me. I think intentions matter the most for everything you do. When you are good to others you receive back the blessings manifold. I have been blessed to have followed my true passion and make it successful.

Tell us about International Fashion academy IFAP? What inspired you to launch it?

Initially, when I started my career as a model, there was no structured platform in the fashion industry. IFAP is the first fashion academy in Pakistan. Its mission is to establish a platform that allows the next generation of style professionals to study fashion and pursue it as a viable career. We offer a dynamic permanent and visiting faculty that includes experts from Canada and Europe. IFAP aims to create a new generation of professionals who can lead Pakistan’s fashion industry nationally and in the global arena.

Have you ever considered yourself branching out into acting side?

Acting is actually an extensive job. Every project takes a toll on you and you have to quickly recover for the next. I was always very passionate about acting and did a movie named Chambeli. It was a Pakistani political thriller film directed by Ismail Jilani and produced by Abdullah Kadwani. I will surely work in upcoming films if offered a good project.

What is your most memorable fashion show?

For a model every fashion show is memorable. Everything I have done in my career is memorable to me, because I have learned a great deal from each experience. To start your career as a model is not tough but to establish your name in the fashion industry you need to work really hard because it is a full time job. In short it is like you have to look good all the time even if you are internally at your worst.

I remember when Hassan Sheharyar showcased his entire collection in my name that was the best moment of my life.

Tell us something about your NGO I Care?

I established ICare to empower, educate and train women with limited resources in the field of make- up and personal grooming. These women come from all walks of life and theywish to become economically independent. With the collaboration and assistance of the L’Oreal foundation our goal is to reach out and help these deserving women.

Your take on the current progress of the Pakistani fashion industry…

The Pakistani fashion industry is growing tremendously. From the creativity in fashion shows, to the popularity of retail fashion, we have grown in each and every segment. If we talk about the last five years there were no fashion weeks to promote, facilitate and represent Pakistani designers at all levels. On a macro level so much of the world’s clothing is manufactured here everyone in the world has worn a made in Pakistan article of clothing.

What do you usually wear in daily life?

I always usually wear Jeans and T-shirt in my daily life routine.

How do you stay in such an amazing shape?

That is no secret, you just have to ensure that you eat healthy, workout and discipline yourself. I exercise for at least two hours every day.

How do you define your role as the L’Oreal Paris spokesperson?

It is an honor to be selected as the very first spokesperson for Loreal Paris, and being a part of any Loreal Paris campaign is a wonderful learning experience. Needless to say I get a lot of support from my L’Oreal Paris family.

Would you like to share about your upcoming projects?

I’m currently working on a new project with L’Oreal Paris and Ittehad as well.