#BEYOUROWN MEETS SHUBI CHANDRA
“Clothes aren’t going to change the world, the women who wear them will.” – Anne Klein.
A buyer turned stylist with an entrepreneurial spirit, Shubhangi Chandra (Shubi), founder of Effortless Allure, is passionate about helping ambitious women become more confident and achieve their goals while looking and feeling incredibly good.
Instead of trying to emulate someone else’s style, Shubi teaches her clients the core concepts of style which then better equips them to look and feel great every day without spending hours in front of their wardrobe. With her practical approach to personal style, she helps women build a wardrobe that reflects their personality, makes them feel comfortable and confident so they can focus on the important things rather than worrying about how they look.
As someone who has 12+ years of experience and extensive knowledge about the apparel and fashion industry, a bachelors and a masters degree in Fashion Business and Textiles, is a Business Management graduate and a certified Personal Stylist, Shubi is the go-to person for career women when it comes to looking and feeling good day after day- and do so effortlessly.
As a strong advocate of empowering women so they can perform at their best and be the best version of themselves, Shubi firmly believes that women should be able to focus on their growth and performance in their career or business, and family instead of worrying about their clothes. With more and more women now in leadership positions, technology, politics and starting their own companies, she emphasises that is important that women feel connected to their inner self as it’s a big driver for confidence, which in turn is reflected in your image, whether that’s professional or around your friends and family.
Shubi began her career in design and manufacturing houses that produced for GAP, Ben Sherman, Calvin Klein and M&S and then moving into buyer positions in retail and e-commerce. During her career as a buyer in Sydney, Australia, she has worked with iconic Australian labels like Sass and Bide, Josh Goot, Nicola Finetti, Aje, Romance was Born and the likes. With her attention to detail and an eye for fashion, Shubi knew she wanted to do more than just help women buy nice clothes.
She recognises that a woman’s appearance is judged more harshly than a man’s. “This may sound shallow but the uncomfortable truth is that we are judged on our appearance. It will be naïve to think that intelligence, skill and hard work are all that matter. You may be brilliant at your work, possess excellent leadership skills but if your appearance fails to show that and instead shows low confidence, people will doubt your capabilities and you will risk your career progression.”
Shubi founded Effortless Allure in 2017, London, with the goal to encourage all women to learn how to dress well, whether it is for their job or for their business or on their days off doing a school run, “because you never know where you’ll meet your next opportunity.”
Hey Shubi, can you introduce yourself to us?
I’m Shubi, Personal Stylist and founder of Effortless Allure. I help ambitious women look and feel as successful as they are.
Most women lack time, confidence or the know-how as they have so many balls to juggle and it can get overwhelming. I equip my women with the core style concepts, help define their style and provide practical style advice that they can apply to help them look and feel amazing. The confidence that comes from wearing clothes you love and that show you at your best can be life-changing.
Because when you look good, you feel great and feel more confident, so you perform at your best.
“To become more successful, you don’t have to change who you are. You have to become more of who you are.”
Can you take us through your journey to where you are now as a personal stylist?
I first got my break in the design department of the manufacturing house that produced for Ben Sherman and production teams for GAP and M&S. In parallel, I completed my Bachelors of Fashion Technology, which helped me realise the full potential of being able to help my clients.
In the fashion industry, not many people complete undergraduate degree or masters, but I felt in addition to the hands-on experience with large brands, the education will give me a framework that I can apply with the companies I worked with.
Few years later, I moved to Australia where I completed my Masters of Fashion. This gave me further understanding of retail and business management in the fashion industry. During this time, I worked with brands such as Witchery, Myers and with design houses that produced for brands like Sportsgirl, Sussan and the likes. From here, I progressed to a buyer role in fast fashion e-commerce and continued to gain more experience and developed and further refined my styling skills during this time. Working in womenswear taught me a lot about different body shapes of women and the problem they faced with fitting, style, design and so on. During my buying career, I had the opportunity to work with a number of Australian luxury and designer brands.
Working as a buyer had its perks and I absolutely enjoyed that phase of my career but I had always wanted to have my own business. During this time, I also met my husband. When we got married, I was still working long hours in my buying job. I decided to leave my full-time job to have a bit more flexibility. I was able to set-up three online businesses that worked on a direct to consumer model and turned over $100K in the first 15 months. It was a rollercoaster ride but it was a great learning curve and gave me real insight into running your own business.
A couple of years later, we moved to London. After a while, I decided to sell my Sydney businesses. The time difference wasn’t conducive to healthy operations of the business or our relationship. I decided to go back to a buying role and led the womenswear, lingerie and swim category for an online retailer. I thought it was a great way for me to learn about a new market, the customer purchase patterns and develop relationship with designers and brands across UK and Europe and also meet new people in a new city.
A lot of experiences (both good and bad) in my career and businesses made me realise that it is important to pay attention to how I present myself. This is when I decided I will bring together everything I know and all my experience and started Effortless Allure as a bespoke personal stylist.
Having lived and worked in different countries (Australia, India, Africa, United Kingdom), I have always very easily adapted to new surroundings, culture and people. This exposure to various cultures and markets coupled with my extensive knowledge about the whole apparel manufacturing process from fabrics to pattern making to garment construction to styling and my experience working in the industry and working with all tiers of brands makes my job as a personal stylist much more than just buying women some new clothes.
How is your business funded, is it bootstrapped, self-funded etc?
It is self-funded and operational.
What is your method of approach when it comes to working with new clients?
I always like to meet my clients in person for an informal chat before I start working with them. I want them to feel comfortable as style is very personal. This is for both of us to figure out if we are the right fit for each other and for me to understand their wins, struggles and goals. This helps me tailor my services to exactly what they require. But I don’t push them if they’re not ready. I need my women to be prepared to put in the effort and be open to change because the results can be truly transformational.
My approach is not just about trends, I don’t want my clients to look like they’re straight off the catwalk. Instead, I will understand their personality, their lifestyle, their aspirations and help them build a wardrobe of clothes and a signature style that they feel comfortable and confident in. So, they can focus on important things like growing their business, excelling at their job and spending time with their family and friends.
I feel strongly about helping women to look and feel their best and so all my sessions are tailored to my clients’ needs and I do not believe in “one size fits all” as no two women are the same.
As part of the process, we go through wardrobe review and reorganisation, style readdress, shopping research and refresh and finally persona refinement. After the first session, we are able to pick and decide where the most benefit to the client is.
After working with me, my clients are able to dress for success, have their signature style that makes an impact, make their mornings stress-free, shop smart and enhance their professional image to maximise their potential.
In past, women have gone through this process to increase their self-confidence.
For my private and virtual consults, I work with businesswomen, leading corporate leaders, women in the midst of changing careers, women returning to work after a break or relocating to a new country and some who simply want to take their style to the next level for increased self-confidence.
For women who are not ready for consults just yet can access my practical style advice on my blog.
Is this a time intensive engagement?
It is not as time intensive as people make it out to be. Most women lack time or the confidence as they have so many balls to juggle and it can get overwhelming. Through my blog, meet-ups, speaking events, group consults, I make it easy for my clients to receive style advice in small doses.
This should be fun and a self-loving activity, not a chore. For those who are ready for the transformation, I’m just an email away.
Where can you see yourself within the next 3-5 years?
Right now, my focus is to grow Effortless Allure. Rest of my time is divided between working on a book, a digital course and a collection catering to working women that is stylish, functional and elegant. In 3-5 years, I would like to have my own you-tube channel if not a Netflix show.
What are the key tools that you use for your trade?
I believe in continued learning and building relationships. Your network and your know-how are what makes you the go-to person in your niche.
My biggest strength is my ability to understand the psychology of the people who dress well. This helps me understand the construct and coach my clients as a learning and not just a set of clothes they can wear. It’s like that saying, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Who are your three favourite designers to work with?
This is tough one. I like the works of so many designers and the way they were so devoted to making women look incredible like Coco Chanel, Balmain and Oscar De La Renta. Dries Van Noten is one of all-time favourite.
If I had to pick, it would be Phoebe Philo, Victoria Beckham, and Dion Lee.
Phoebe Philo’s (Celine) minimal no-fuss aesthetics and precise lines make you look refined and feel powerful. The modern tailoring and multi-layered aesthetics of Victoria Beckham give you functionality that is far from dull but so wearable for professional women. Dion Lee’s technical approach to traditional tailoring and fluid silhouettes gives the pieces a sensual undertone that makes you feel sexy yet sophisticated.
I also work with local designers and tailors on made-to-order clothes that are designed and sewn for my clients.
What outlets do use to promote Effortless Allure?
I focus on face-to-face events. In addition to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, I also write on my blog regularly and can also be found on Medium and LinkedIn. I have recently started speaking at events and have also held talks and workshops for women’s business clubs as well as corporates and progressive start-ups that have had great feedback. I’m open to all opportunities that will help me help more women. I find work-of-mouth is my strongest outlet.
Is there a staple look that you go for?
A button-front shirt, well-fitting dark trousers/jeans and a tailored blazer paired with heels. I use accessories to dial up or dial down the outfits based on the place and occasion. It’s hard to look overdressed or underdressed when you have classic and versatile pieces in your wardrobe.
A highlight in your career so far?
I’d say there have been a couple when I was working in the fashion industry that have helped me get to where I am now. I’ve had a couple of successful businesses before, so I’d say that trusting myself and having the confidence to just go for what I wanted to do. A lot of credit goes to my husband who has always supported and encouraged me to follow my passions.
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
Bringing positive change. Seeing the transformation in my clients and how it changes the way they see themselves. That first reaction when they look at themselves after our sessions- it’s like they’ve never seen themselves before- that just makes it all worth it for me. I love it when they later tell me how much difference it has made to their self- confidence. Some even mention how their partners are now more engaged with and attracted to them which has improved their relationship.
What challenges have you seen to have been presented during the growth of your career?
Biggest one has been comparing myself to other stylists, especially with Instagram. But I soon realised my vision and my style philosophy is very different to most. For me, it’s all about my client and helping them and it’s nothing about me. This underlying belief helped me overcome the comparison paralysis very quickly.
Which other leading entrepreneurs and pioneering game changers do you also admire and why?
This is a tough one to answer as there are so many remarkable people out there like Marie Forleo, Payal Kadakia (of ClassPass) and Brian Chesky (of Airbnb). The one I have admired for long is Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx. Her pure determination to create something functional but that isn’t unpleasant is very admirable. I am sure she has helped many more women feel good about their bodies and feel more confident than she imagined to when she created Spanx.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
Other than reading books that help me with my work, I like reading autobiographies. Currently, I’m reading Becoming by Michelle Obama. I admire her for her intelligence, grit and being a powerful influence to bring positive change. She is also very stylish and just seems like a woman that likes to have fun. She seems very relatable. I haven’t finished reading it yet but I’d recommend it.
Top 3 go-to Podcast channels?
- Marie Forleo.
- ‘Happier Podcast’ with Gretchen Rubin.
- ‘Entrepreneurs On Fire’ with John Lee Dumas.
How do you define your own success?
I think success is more to do with how I feel inside than attaining fame and fortune. When I know I have given my best and that has helped someone else get closer to their goals and become happier, for me that’s a form of success. The curiosity to constantly grow and learn, to travel, to meet new people, to push your own limits are all forms of success to me. As long as you do your best, fail and try again, remain curious and enjoy this journey, you are successful.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
The real you- the one that shows up for herself. Being open to change, learning and adapting what works for you, investing in yourself for betterment, believing in your potential and learning from mistakes and becoming a better version of yourself.
Finally, what are you working on throughout 2019?
I’m working on a digital course and online coaching program, more speaking events possibly globally, more collaborations with creative and savvy entrepreneurs to bring about positive change and more giving back to the community. There is so much more I’d like to do before this year ends.