Meet Kamal (a.k.a Kam) Bhalla. From stay-at-home mom to stylist/personal shopper at Nordstrom, this busy working mom of two is doing what she loves. Fashion is a true passion for her and she enjoys keeping up with the latest trends, however her journey into becoming a stylist, isn’t a conventional one. To overseeing real estate projects to becoming a full-time mom, to then offering select clients “closet cleanses”, this all paved her way to becoming the amazing personal shopper she is today. Kam provides advice and guidance to people who are looking for assistance in shopping for clothes, accessories, beauty products and even gifts. Her role is a customized service which allows her to work with each client and provide style advice and tips that will enhance a personal look. This can be a one-time shopping experience or a more comprehensive consultation which would include a holistic look at their complete wardrobe. One of Kam’s specialties is a closet consultation. Kam relies on her sense of style and ability to spot a bargain. She strives to get the best results for her clients and go the extra mile to ensure they are totally satisfied with her services.
In 2002, I graduated from the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Victoria. I majored in Geography Urban Planning and my minor was Canadian History. Throughout university I held part- time positions in retail sales. I was a sales associate for Hudson’s Bay and The Gap. After graduation, I was a Development Assistant at the Bear Mountain Golf and Country Club in Victoria, working for a series of NHL investors. I personally also, acquire land to build homes and sell them.
In the summer of 2005, I decided to move to Vancouver and worked at Morguard Leasing working on real estate projects in Victoria, Calgary and Toronto. At both organizations, I had unusual requests to assist various individuals in their wardrobe needs which I thoroughly enjoyed.
In 2009, my husband and I started a family and I enjoyed my time as a stay-at-home mom. A few years later, in 2012, I was approached ironically by a South Asian woman who didn’t know me but would see me at various children’s activities. I was both surprised and flattered when she explained that whenever our paths crossed she had observed that not only I was always well dressed and put together, but so were my two little boys. She asked if I could assist her by doing a closet cleanse and giving her style tips. She spread the word about the service I offered her and soon I had a number of clients who were looking for assistance in their wardrobe needs.
Soon after the opening of the Nordstrom Vancouver store, the Personal Styling Manager contacted me in regards to a meeting. Since then, I have been at Nordstrom and thoroughly enjoy my position as personal shopper/stylist. My client list is now vast and I appreciate the referrals from my existing clients that has allowed me to expand my services and build a wonderful career doing something I love.
My challenges intertwine into both personal and professionally.
Many high-end designers have been burning their end of season merchandise. Absolute terrible to hear of. Especially when it pertains to the man-power it took to make these garments, all the way from the farmers to the labour in the warehouses to the sales associates selling and on top of it the wastage to the environment. I don’t think many people know about this that the rate of Indian cotton farmers who take their own lives is astonishing! Reasons being floods, drought, debt, and use of genetically modified seed, public health, use of lower quantity pesticides due to less investments producing a decreased yield has become over whelming high numbers in India, averagely 8,000 a year commit suicide and that does include other causes of deaths that have occurred by the fashion industry just alone in India. This leads into the topic of social media, the influence of buying trends over classics.
In the past decade social media has managed to quickly revolutionize the fashion industry. Social media has influenced the fashion industry more than any other industry. In times before social media, celebrity endorsements ultimately happened in a few limited ways: commercials, interviews, and public stunts – limited nonetheless. These days, celebrities are able to endorse products on their Facebook pages, Instagram profiles, and Snapchat stories. Instagram, for example, functions as a live magazine, always updating itself with the best, most current trends. The fashion industry knows that if they want to sell something fast, they don’t make a broadcast television commercial, they get a Kardashian to tweet about it ASAP. And users like me included gobble this up. Creates more of a want then a need, ultimately wastage. That trend piece has a low shelf rate than a classic. I have had to start experimenting with my own wardrobe before I was able to speak to my clients regards to their purchasing experiences. Its a work in progress but I’m hoping I am able to make a positive impact overall with knowledge I gain and give. Buy less, Choose well!
I think the obvious answer is to have a strong interest in fashion. My journey does not include any formal training that allowed me to break into the personal shopping world. However, for young women starting out today there are so many interesting design and fashion programs available which would give them a strong foundation in the industry. I would like to think that my enthusiasm, extreme sense of style and keen interest in fashion has allowed me to thrive in the career path that I have chosen. Skills that are necessary to be an effective personal shopper/stylist include strong organizational, time management, and communication skills. Excellent interpersonal skills are important as one must be a good listener and be kind and respectful to all that they encounter. Most importantly you are dressing the client not yourself! This is key in this industry. You may not dress in the style your client is requesting but, you need to listen and tweak to the body shape and colouring of your client. I cannot express this enough. Yo
No doubt about it there is no limit to what we as women can accomplish. Women are leaders everywhere from the CEO to the housewife who raises her children and heads her household. An open mind set and the ability to step into the shoes of others will allow for a supportive environment that will empower all woman.
I feel in my line of work, I am empowering women every day. Empowerment is all about confidence, and fashion is an amazing tool to gain self-confidence. Feeling good about what you’re wearing allows you to stand tall, lean in and strut your stuff.
The way I help my South Asian sisters of all ages is being able to make them look their best because when you look your best you feel your best. There’s no denying power dressing has evolved since the days of relying on shoulder-pads and pinstripes for a little chutzpah. We no longer need a flashy outfit to communicate confidence, but with my love for fashion I will tell you it can help boost the spirit, talent and skills within. A quote by Anne Klein that resonates with me, “Clothes aren’t going to change the world. The women who wear them will.”
If I could talk to the teenage version of myself, I would say, “You will never be younger than you are today. Comprehend the magnitude of that and enjoy every moment.”
Overall, to positively impact the life of every person I meet.
Poetry and Dance! I have been writing poetry since 1997. I have journals and journals of poetry. I got asked years ago to publish some of my writings however I shied away. For me it’s a personal therapeutic process that I wasn’t and still am not ready to share with the public. I love to dance! I was fortunate enough as a child, my parents put me in ballet class in the 80’s and since then I’ve loved the art of dance as to what it does to my body as well as the emotional expression it can have upon lookers. Currently I enjoy hip hop and contemporary.
I absolutely cherish my “me” time; I like being at home by myself catching up with my guilty pleasure of Real Housewives’ American franchises or going for a solitary walk. Of course, I love spending time with my two boys, my husband and members of my extended family. I enjoy my time with my sons, watching them play sports, playing board games, going on a hike together or spending an evening watching a movie. I cherish my “girlfriend time” whether it is having tea, watching concerts, or basically sitting in the living room catching up in comfy sweats over a cocktail.
Communication with my husband at its finest. A shared Google Calendar takes away all the stress. I feel this helps me visually knowing the days and times we have scheduled activities and when there is time to relax and just enjoy the free time.
Nordstrom Pacific Centre Stylist, 799 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC, V7Y 0A2