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From arranged marriage to dressing the royals – how Real Housewife Seema Malhotra succeeded in having it all

It’s easy to forget that away from the drama of the Real Housewives of Cheshire set, its cast members are real women with real careers.

But while Dawn Ward and Tanya Bardsley’s headlines often surround the status of their long-standing feud, their co-star Seema Malhotra is quietly taking over the cutthroat world of the fashion industry.

The number one ingredient to be a Real Housewife is, of course, glamour – and it is Seema’s clothing company Forever Unique that dominates the wardrobes of the ITVBe show, which she joined in series three.

In the past 11 years she has gone from housewife and mother to boardroom director – and her brand has been seen on not only her co-stars, but also the likes of Kate Middleton and Miley Cyrus.

Seema Malhotra
(Image: Joel Goodman)

She told the M.E.N.: “That whole stigma that it’s a man’s world, it’s changing now. So many women are owning companies, different businesses, and for me I think it’s really good that we’re empowering women.

Women are strong. We’re no different than men, other than we might have boobs. But we can be equal. And it makes me feel proud when I see other women doing it, and it makes me think, I can do it too.”

Seema Malhotra
(Image: Joel Goodman)

Bury-born Seema’s love of clothing began at an early age, after watching her fashion designer cousin transform sketched designs into real dresses.

This cousin [Mahmud Kamani, and later, his sons Adam and Umar] went on to create two of the UK’s biggest clothing companies – and Seema was keen to follow in their footsteps.

Kate Middleton, right, with sister Pippa, wearing a Forever Unique dress in 2007
(Image: Getty Images)

“My cousins own Boohoo and PrettyLittleThing and for me that’s a massive inspiration – just seeing what they’ve achieved,” she explained.

“So many Manchester based companies are doing it and that literally encourages me. And that makes me think, do you know what? We should be proud. We’re putting Manchester on the map.”

Miley Cyrus wearing Forever Unique in Cosmopolitan’s December 2013 edition
(Image: Cosmopolitan)

Seema’s journey began after completing her A-levels and enrolling to study Fashion and Design at the University of Salford.

She was set for an interview at Central Saint Martins in London to do an art foundation course when her traditional Indian parents discouraged her from making the move to the capital, and introduced to her future husband, Sandeep, who also comes from a successful fashion family.

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Seema Malhotra
(Image: Joel Goodman)

Seema, 47, has spoken openly in the past about their arranged marriage, telling Cheshire Life in 2016 that her father said: “You’re not going [to London] because by the age of 21 or 22 you’re going to be married.”

But while some may question how an arranged marriage fits into a modern world where women have careers outside the home, Seema proved that you can strive to be successful at both.

The mum-of-two said: “When I met my husband, I am not going to lie, I was a bit of a princess and I thought ‘oh I’m going to be a Cheshire housewife’. But really straight away for me it was stepping into his world which was literally work, work, work – and if you work you achieve.

Real Housewives and Seema Malhotra attend Forever Unique’s autumn/winter launch at Manchester Hall
(Image: Joel Goodman)

“Getting the buzz of having a hard day’s work and seeing the rewards that you can get from it, it made me hungry and it changed me as a person.”

While enjoying her family – she has two sons, Neil and Aaron – and a successful career, in 2016 ambitious Seema decided to venture into television, and, ever the business woman, she took her brand with her.

“When I started the show it was a no brainer for me because these are the women that wear my brand, and I think my brand is quite statement, it’s quite bold, a bit daring – just like the women are,” she said.

One of Seema’s big storylines in RHOC has been her struggle with the menopause, and she says this is something that can impact on a woman’s career if not addressed properly.

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“Business can be difficult as a woman to have a voice as it is, but throw in having children, being a mum and then the menopause and it can be a real challenge,” she said.

“When it hit, I literally felt at my lowest. There were days where I didn’t want to get out of bed. Your body changes and you’ve got this whole imbalance, and it’s hard when you’re juggling everything else.

“I couldn’t remember certain things and I kept thinking, what’s wrong with you? You get paranoid. But it’s fine, it’s normal. It’s about educating yourself that you’re not seriously ill, it’s not an illness, it’s what women go through. It’s life.”

The Real Housewives of Cheshire: Hanna Miraftab, Rachel Lugo, Tanya Bardsley, Ester Dee, Dawn Ward, Seema Malthora and Perla Navia
(Image: ITV / Monkey Kingdom)

Looking ahead, Seema – who is now managing her symptoms with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – says excited to be back to her best on the show, which is currently in its ninth series.

“Last season I was massively down with it, but now I feel like myself,” she said. “But now I feel strong – I feel like Seema’s back, where as last season it was like, where has Seema gone?

“This season has to go down as my best season. I have loved it, I feel like I am me. I am strong this season. There’s some really funny episodes coming up. It’s really exciting.”

Real Housewives of Cheshire continues on ITVBe on Monday from 10pm.

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