My name is Sandeep Kaur, I graduated last year with a BSc Politics and Sociology degree. After graduating I decided I wanted to work for a company whose moral values aligned well with mine so I went to work for a charity, this gives me time to share my beliefs and experience to help others. Alongside this, I founded ‘British Asian Models’ (BAM). I set up BAM as I had noticed a gap in the market as well as vast insecurities within the modelling industry. I originally set up the agency with the intention to act as a platform for equality, diversity and strive towards confidence and empowerment within the commercial modelling industry. I quickly noticed the impact my idea was having on people’s opinions and social media presence, I found that people didn’t really have somewhere to share their truths and be themselves 100%. I discovered that social media was masking people’s personalities. This has now become one of my top priorities. Having younger siblings and working with young people in my day job has shown me what the younger generation perceives as normal which we may not. I have learned that things are ever changing and using BAM may be the perfect opportunity for me to lend a helping hand to those who want to talk about taboo subjects and ensure we as British Asians can support each other. With that said, it’s safe to say we aren’t a typical modelling agency, the agency is based through the opinions of people I meet and through the stories that are shared.
What inspires you?
My inspirations which have guided me to where I am today and where I aim to be in 5 years’ time, have mainly come from political successes; from decades ago up until what happened yesterday. From small to large I feel like every success should be monitored and celebrated, for women, for British Asians, for those with disabilities, for the ‘taboos’ of society. I truly believe there is so much more for us to achieve regardless of gender, age, sexuality, race, religion, ability… we can support each other and everything will become achievable! I am always inspired by the people I meet, from models to makeup artists, everyone has a story to tell, every single individual who works with BAM has a story, they are the ones who inspire me to produce new ideas and content.
What book has greatly influenced your life?
I have recently read and more importantly, studied ‘Start with Why’ by Simon Sinek after being gifted it by a mentor. I studied the book because without this I would lack knowledge about the simplest things in life. I learn and grow alongside the business each day, so ensuring I am well equipped is vital. This book greatly influences the decisions I make in my life regarding my business, it helps me question my ideas and ensure they are thought through and reasonable. I find that questioning myself is important as it allows for justification, running my own business means that I have no one to justify my ideas to, so ensuring that I am able to solidify my thought process is crucial when I have wild ideas that need rationality!
What purchase of £100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months?
My best investment recently has been into my business, investing in business cards, branded t-shirts and trademarking my logo. These steps were crucial in making my idea a reality, being able to have something to call my own and invest in has been something that has definitely positively impacted my life, BAM is my baby!
How has a ‘failure’, or apparent ‘failure’, set you up for later success?
I have a number of apparent failures, as we all do, but the best thing about them is that without them we would have no success! My favourite failure was not achieving what I wanted originally when I began to model. I was signed to a previous agency and it was nothing like I expected. I didn’t get past the casting stage most of the time and when I took the time to think about why I hadn’t been picked and analysed who had, I realised… they didn’t want an Asian face. BAM – the idea struck me, British Asian Models came from my failure and now is one of my best achievements.
If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why?
I have a few!
‘If it was easy, everyone would be doing it’
‘Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. Every story has an end, but in life every end has a new beginning’
‘Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it’
These are my favourite quotes, saved in my phone and ready to be read on a bad day. My messaging boils down to the point of regardless of what happens in your life, it’s short, spend every day like it’s your last. Every single day is precious and we should appreciate that so much more than we do. Regardless of what happens in your life…YOU are strong! YOU can achieve even more than what you put your mind too.
In the last 2 years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?
2 years ago I never would have imagined going to the gym or meditating… but wow! Now I have become a strong believer of using the gym as a wonderful way to release endorphins. Meditating has become a way for me to relax and switch off from a very busy life. These have improved my life the most as they have allowed me to take control of a busy schedule making sure I have got ‘me time’, also allowing for a really good night’s sleep afterwards!!!
What advice would you give to a smart, driven student about to enter the “real world? What advice should they ignore?
I would advise that you keep yourself prepared and organised!
Organisation is key, it makes sure you are ready for the next step and can handle new responsibilities. I think it’s important to keep some type of plan or strategy of what you want in life and a brief plan of how you intend to get there. Do not panic!!! Your life is not over when you enter the ‘real world’, you will mature and grow with time and experience, don’t rush anything. Ignore anyone who tells you to have a life plan to a T, life happens, things will change. Be prepared for change, change is good. Things might happen that you don’t like or didn’t expect, that’s okay! It’s important to stay prepared for the ‘what if’ of life, stay positive and always get the best out of a bad situation.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?
Switch off from all social media – turn my phone off and take to a notepad! Being overwhelmed by life is not something which is uncommon to me and probably to most of us. Being so engrossed in our phones really doesn’t help. Sometimes just switching everything off and sitting with your thoughts for a while can be really nice and relaxing. Usually, when I have done this, my focus and attention comes back better the next day, I would much rather give a task my 100% tomorrow than 50% today because I’m tired or have lost focus.
Tell us something that would surprise us about you?
Often, the thing that surprises people the most, is that I am only 22. I conduct many campaigns and events both in my day to day job as well as for BAM this usually surprises people as they presume I am older to handle such responsibility! (Age is just a number)
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
Being diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 19 was a life-changing thing to come along and slap me in the face. Having being told you shouldn’t do certain things as they may trigger your condition is something that is difficult to digest. Now having spent the last three years adjusting my lifestyle to suit the condition and work alongside it has been a huge achievement for me. I wouldn’t say I have overcome this challenge completely, but I would definitely say that every step of the way I overcome it a little bit more. Finishing my degree with what I wanted was a huge accomplishment, then getting a job and now being able to work, run a business and have a social life was something at one point I never imagined was possible. This has all helped me overcome my challenge of being epileptic!
What is your message to the AWMB community?
Often people think you can’t run a business because you’re too young or too old. Some people think you are too young or old get married. Some people think women shouldn’t do certain things or act in certain ways. ‘Some people’ aren’t whose opinions matter. Point being… you do you! You should do what makes you happy, having the support from your close family i.e. parents are important but no one else should matter in your happiness. Asian women are already limited to so much – these are barriers placed upon us from the second we are born – we will break these barriers, we will gain representation, we will become the CEO’s, we will have a say, we will do what makes us happy! We’ve got this!