Yesterday, I was featured on Holly & Tanager’s blog and it was such an honor! This Chicago-based handbag company, is pushing the handbag industry towards style, function and organization. I love all their handbag designs, but especially the Sidekick Mini – it even has two secret pockets! I love a good secret pocket. Below are some photos from a Holly & Tanager photoshoot from a few weeks ago. It was the perfect springlike morning way back in February and the skyline made for an amazing backdrop.
You can read about my interview here and do a little bit of shopping here.
Monica & Me
Holly & Tanager c/o: Mini Sidekick // ZARA: Pants & Shirt // Nine West: Shoes // Marc Jacobs: Sunglasses
*Thank you again Holly & Tanager for featuring me on your blog and website. All opinions are my own.
Julie Patel, Owner of Shamirah
A couple of weeks ago, I had a fun opportunity to photograph my first trunk show for an online boutique, Shamirah with my blogger friend Monica. I got connected with Julie Patel, owner of Shamirah Boutique, through my other blogger friend Sapna. This is truly why I love blogging because of all the great and interesting people I meet. From there, Julie’s trunk show was a happening event. Streams of ladies kept coming to the show and her racks were practically empty by the end of the event. This is the first of two posts about Shamirah and stay tuned for photos from the trunk show soon. Get to know Julie below:
HAMR: How did Shamirah begin? What inspired you to begin your business? How long have you had your business?
Julie: We actually bought the domain name for Shamirah in 2013… Having a clothing boutique has always been my dream. I still remember as a little girl I loved dressing up, putting accessories in my hair, dressing up my dolls- I remember in my closet my mom always put the “party” dresses- the ones with the velvet, frills, and bows, the “gowns” at the back of the closet (prob hoping I wouldn’t notice them), and when I was old enough to pick out my own clothes to wear to school – at about 5 yrs old… I would always put one of those on – and this was every morning. I can’t imagine my poor mom trying to rationale with me about my wardrobe choice every morning while trying to get to work. Growing up, I loved dressing up my friends…. My sister, cousins, and niece were always “shopping” in my closet.
Anyway- in 2013, I decided it’s now or never. Thankfully, I have a husband who supported my dream and encouraged me to go after it- I think this really helped. So, I put together my husband’s name (Samir) and mother’s name (Shakuntala), and came back with Shamirah. I liked the sound of it so I went with it. I remember purchasing the domain, and having no clue where to begin. I worked on my logo this year, I wanted it simple. I went with minimal color, and added a lotus leaf- only because I love the meaning- a flower that is known to bloom in the murkiest of waters. It also has a tie to my Hindu religion, our goddess Lakshmi is seen sitting on a lotus flower. I have close friends, and I would send emails to them-talking about the boutique, the name- I’m a firm believer of envisioning something to be true to make it a reality. So, that’s what I did. Even though I was working a full time job then in the corporate sector, and doing nothing boutique related…. I would talk about Shamirah like it was happening- because in my mind it was- I knew this is where I wanted to be. We finally officially “opened” our doors in February of 2015. I had just had my baby girl 4 months before. I was home with her- head over heels in love with her, and 100% hormonal. I remember sitting by myself a lot in those 4 months- just a ball of emotions… One second I’m cooing, smiling, and laughing with this miracle in my arms, and the next second feeling like who am I??? But it was then- during the most fulfilling and loneliest times ( cause motherhood can get lonely), I put all my thoughts, ideas, and dreams together- and built a website for Shamirah.
I wanted to build a shopping experience that offered stylish clothes to our customers but also wanted to be conscious of the price we were offering them at. We’ve all been there – living on a budget but still wanting to feel glamorous, and I didn’t want to forget that. That’s one of the first things I added to the site- our mission statement- an online shopping experience catering to individuals who desire a modern style and exclusive look without the couture prices. I felt so proud, happy, excited, and anxious of what the future held with this new “job.” I had never felt this way all through my career about work- I think this is when you know you have found your passion. It is such a giddy feeling- like butterflies in your tummy. It’s crazy to feel that way about work, right? It’s awesome.
Giving up? I feel like giving up all the time. I’m also working a PT job for a non for profit that’s dear to my heart, Marklund- an organization that works with children and adults with developmental disabilities, all while trying to be the best mom that I can be to my 17 month old. I do get tired at the end of the day. I realize now running your own business is a non stop job, and that can be exhausting but my adrenaline rush out weighs my exhaustion. I now tell people all the time to go after your dreams, do what you love, that it’s never too late. Now more than ever before – in our world of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and all of these other social media sites (that I still need to master, lol), we literally have the world at our fingertips. It’s a great thing. I remember very early on when I was trying to develop my website in the late hours, my mom once looked at my tired eyes and said- just remember, there is nothing in this world that you can’t do. It was a simple statement. But, it has stuck with me, it’s my motivation, and I think about it often when the day gets a little long. She’s right.
HAMR: Describe your style?
Julie: I think I would describe my style as fashion forward. I think I’ve always been the one to start a trend, not follow it – trust me- this had not always been the best of wardrobe choices! Geez. I’ve had my days. But, as far as style – I like different but classy with maybe a bit of edge. Audrey Hepburn, Gwyneth Paltrow, Katie Holmes are all women I respect as far as personal style… And Coco Chanel can never do wrong.
HAMR: What’s your go-to accessory?
Julie: My go to accessory is definitely a pair of heels. It’s only recently ( post baby) that I’ve been investing in flats. But, there is nothing like a great pair of heels to bring an outfit together. Plus, Im shorter than the average woman so I love to feel taller than I really am.
HAMR: What’s in your bag currently?
Julie: Haha. I have to laugh at this because my bag is full of all things Shamirah! It is packed silly. I was staring at it this morning thinking, why is my purse so full? Anyway, it’s mostly styles, thoughts, website info, and customer requests. Yes, I should be going paperless with the rest of the world… I’m heading there soon. Oh, and of course I never leave home without my lipstick and compact. These are my must haves.
HAMR: What’s your favorite Chicago spot?
Julie: Wow. This is the hardest question. I grew up in the Chicagoland area…My parents brought me here from India when I was 1, and I never left. I lived in the city after college for 16 years. My baby was born in Chicago. Honestly, it wasn’t until we just moved to the burbs, that I realized how much Chi city has my heart. Can I name a fav spot for every year I lived here? Lol. There’s just so many! But, in all seriousness… At the moment.. It has to be where upper Wacker and Michigan Ave meet-we can look to the east and see our condo, go in any direction for the best restaurants/drinks in the city, head down a few stairs to Cyranos (love this little cafe on the river), and of course-my fav Michigan Ave shopping to my north. Love this spot in the city.
In honor of New York Fashion Week, I thought it’d be appropriate to finally share my interview with the new President of the Style Network, Rida Khan, with Lauren, the newest member of HAMR (more to come on that soon). Khan founded her company Zee Report in 2008 which provided readers in the fashion industry news without any subscription costs. This past May, Khan left Fashion TV to become the President of the Style Network. Lauren and I asked some hard-hitting questions and this is our interview:
HAMR: When is the Style Network going to launch?
Khan: US launch is scheduled for October of 2014.
HAMR: What can we look forward to in the re-launch?
Khan: It’s going to be focusing on the fashion industry, how brands go about designing products, behind the scene looks, reality shows, informational shows and life style programming. What you see on the runway is only a fraction of what actually happens in the industry. We’re also partnering up with Vogue, so stay tuned.
HAMR: What will make people love the Style Network? How exclusive will it be?
Khan: Before the network wasn’t too fashion focused, so focusing on fashion in all aspects will hopefully gain viewership and have people look to our network for inspiration.
HAMR: Reality vs. Real? What will the viewer come away with?
Khan: There will be no filter. The fashion industry is dramatic and this will be portrayed as is. It’s very intense, emotional and there’s a lot of pressure.
HAMR: What role will social media take on with the new network?
Khan: Everybody wants to feel like they’re right there when everything is taking place. We will try to cover all aspects of our network through social media. We’re even in the plans of being able to shop right from a program you’re watching. People love to see the journey and we want to showcase it all.
*Thanks to TechWeek Chicago for connecting us to Rida and for the above photo from the women in media panel.