Fashion / Style

Houston Best Dressed Honoree Sneha Merchant’s Philanthropic Roots Stretch Back to Her Native India — Altruism Connects Worlds

PaperCity Philanthropy in Fashion Is All About Making a Real Difference in the Community

BY // 09.17.23

PaperCity continues a series of profiles on the Philanthropy in Fashion Best Dressed honorees, Houston women who embrace the power of fashion and style by committing themselves to making the world a better place all the while dressing with style and grace. As designer Anne Klein notes: “Clothes aren’t going to change the world. The women who wear them will.” 

Sneha Merchant’s commitment to philanthropy on many levels was nurtured in her native Mumbai, India, where her grandfather and the grandfather of her husband Nick Merchant, were among the founding fathers of Fidai Academy, a school for disadvantaged children.

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Nick & Sneha Merchant celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary. (Instagram photo)

Helping children has been at the forefront of her altruism as she serves on the Southwest board of UNICEF USA and on the international board of Fidai USA and for seven consecutive years she has co-chaired with Viet Hong the Operation Smile gala. Confirming her commitment to the latter, Sneha Merchant has traveled with the team to Guatemala to witness the life-changing surgeries.

Active in a broad spectrum of community leadership she has also chaired galas for the Houston Area Women’s Home (Una Notte in Italia), the Indian Film Festival, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, the Aga Khan Foundation, Asian American Family Services and the Asian Pacific American Heritage Foundation.

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Zenya Merchant & Sneha Merchant at the LCA Houston International Mother’s Day luncheon salute (Photo by Quy Tran)

In addition, Sneha Merchant is a talented artist practicing in mixed media and recently added the creation of intricate and beautiful meditation mandalas to her repertoire.

Sneha Merchant’s Faves

Designers: Tom Ford, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Hermès Balmain, Indian designers Gaurav Gupta, Falguni Shane Peacock

Introducing Pêche

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Fragrance: Tom Ford, Ebene Fume, Gucci Oud

Favorite hotel in the world: Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Thailand

Place that inspires: Cannes on the French Riviera

Guilty pleasure: Hermès handbags

Carbon footprint reduction: Driving a Tesla since 2013, Lomi home composter for kitchen scraps

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Sneha & Nick Merchant at the 2019 UNICEF Gala at The Post Oak Hotel. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for UNICEF)

Doing It Her Way

False eyelashes or mascara: Eyelash extensions

Pilates or yoga: Pilates five days a week

Sneakers or stilettos: Sneakers for day, four-inch stilettos for evening

Facial or massage: Facials

Jeans or joggers: Jeans

Feathers or fur: Fur

The PaperCity honorees were introduced in May, photographed in July by Ivan Aguirre with styling by Michelle Avina, and will be presented at the PaperCity Philanthropy in Fashion Best Dressed Luncheon and Neiman Marcus Fashion Presentation benefiting March of Dimes, sponsored by Children’s Memorial Hermann, on September 21 at the Post Oak Hotel. More information on the event can be found here.

Part of the Special Series:

PaperCity - Philanthropy in Fashion Best Dressed
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