Young entrepreneur, check. Fashionable lady, check. Super cool business collaborations, check. Doing what you love for a living, check. Meet Amrit Baidwan, owner and creative mind behind Ishara, a fabulous Vancouver and online-based boutique carrying a plethora of amazing, pretty little things.
We seek inspiration from talented minds, and Amrit Baidwan is one of those intelligent women who does business and fashion well. Here's her story of making it big.
JS: How did you get into fashion?
Amrit: My background was in business, but I always wanted to work in something creative, so right after I graduated I moved to Toronto, and went to learn design. I’d wanted to work in fashion but I didn’t know what area, so I ended up doing a lot graphic design specifically for fashion. I ended up working for Club Monaco’s head office as a graphic designer, and for a couple of other retailers, doing graphic design, logo design, and tshirt design.
JS: Amrit the businesswoman. How did that happen?
Amrit: Family brought me back to Vancouver, which was home for me. I freelance designed for awhile, but I was still always working in fashion. And then in 2008, the opportunity to open Ishara came up and it was something I’d wanted to do for a long time.
A lot of people I talked to would save their shopping for vacation because there wasn’t a lot to choose from here, especially at that time in Vancouver. Finding unique designers in Vancouver was a bit of challenge, and I didn’t see why we couldn’t have the kinds of boutiques like the ones I shopped at in Toronto, or in LA or New York when I travelled. Women here are fashionable and want to be fashionable, but we didn’t have a lot of options locally to shop.
Why to shop here: After hour parties and shopping events set Ishara apart from other shops in Vancouver. We recently attended their delicious macaron pop-up, and heard that their designer trunk shows are must-attend events. Did we mention their amazing selection of jewelry, including pieces that easily transition from work, party and even Indian events?
JS: How do you select the brands and designers you carry at Ishara?
Amrit: A lot of it is gut instinct, and having it represent what I want this store to represent. We handpick everything that shows up on the rack here. Fun, flirty, easy to wear, not taking yourself too seriously, but at the same time be able to go from the office to evening to party to wedding.
JS: Do you follow international trends?
Amrit: I’m not a trend follower, but we definitely pay attention to the key trends.
JS: Do you carry a lot of Canadian designers?
Amrit: I tend to pick designers that appeal to me, so I look for quality, the fabrication, the style… so if the Canadian designer fits into that, then great. We carry Jason Matlo [dress above] who is a great local Canadian designer, and Smythe, who is getting a lot of recognition lately because Kate Middleton wore it, but we’ve carried it since we opened because it’s an amazing line and well made. Brave is another Canadian accessories company.
JS: Up-and-coming designers to look out for?
Amrit: Wren, an LA-based line is one. Rebecca Minkoff is a huge celebrity favourite, and they’re really amazing well made bags, I just got my own recently. Rory Beca, it’s not super well known but people who’ve bought a piece come back because it’s really well made, very on-trend but wearable. Smythe is another one.
JS: Trends you want to see disappear.
Amrit: I’ve been saying this for years but people are still doing it: wearing leggings as pants. It disturbs me. And especially in Vancouver, wearing yoga pants out at night. It really personally bothers me [laughs]. We had the slogan, Yoga Pants Are Not Pants in the window and we had girls who work at Lululemon come in and say, that is fantastic, we have women come in and try on yoga pants with heels! Yoga pants seem so normal but they're not, you don’t see it anywhere else.
I don’t hate yoga pants or yoga, I do yoga. But I wear yoga pants while I’m doing yoga or working out. That's it.
Vancouverites, pay attention.
Story By: Manjot Bains
Read our Fall 2011 Style Trend Story with Amrit + Zoe from Ishara Boutique, where they show us how to wear a summer maxi in the fall, where prints to work and colour block like a pro.