Imagine being at the pinnacle of your career…working at a top company and earning a top salary. Now imagine giving that all up to start all over again in pursuit of your true passion.
That’s exactly what financial-expert-turned-fashion-designer Kirat Anand did. He left JPMorgan’s investment banking and finance group behind to launch KAS New York, now a global fashion house specializing in hand detailing and luxurious prints with a bohemian lifestyle twist.
While a student at NYU’s prestigious Stern School of Business, Anand worked for Morgan Stanley and Forbes. After graduation, he accepted a position at JPMorgan which, at the time, he thought was just the start of his long financial career. But after a few years in the industry, he could feel there was no energy or excitement in his life. Something was missing.
As it turned out, what Anand’s life was missing had actually been there all along.
As a young boy growing up, he was inspired by his mother’s love of fashion. Herself a talented designer, Sabby Anand taught him the skills needed to take a fashion idea from research to reality, from concept to consumer. Emboldened by this entrepreneurial spirit and his passion for fashion, Anand took the leap from Finance to Fashion and, alongside his mother, KAS New York was born.
To date, KAS New York is showcased in luxury retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales and upscale, specialty stores like Anthropologie and Free People. Their designs can be found at worldwide resort destinations such as Ritz Carlton hotels, Four Seasons properties and Taj Hotels. Their brand is a favorite of the Obamas and the Jenners and the designs have been acclaimed in publications ranging from Refinery29 to Elle to InStyle and many more.
So how did Anand successfully transition from Finance to Fashion? And how can you achieve the same feat? I sat down with him to find out.
Draw from your experience.
When pivoting to a new endeavor, you must ask yourself, “What makes me different than the hundreds or thousands of others who have started this business before?” Anyone can go to the same school or read the same books as you. What really makes you different (and what will make your business different) is the experiences you’ve had.
“I grew up in the garment industry,” says Anand, “As a child, most of my vacations revolved around sourcing, manufacturing and production. I remember being a young kid and my parents took me to Saks 5th Ave to show me the windows which featured my mother’s designs. I thought that was amazing! Experiences like those planted the fashion seeds in me at an early age.”
Use your past experiences as much as you can in any new venture. It’s what will help distinguish you from the competition.
Understand all aspects of the industry.
Your business is like an engine. As the owner, your job is to keep it running as smoothly and efficiently as possible every day. By better understanding how everything works in unison, both small details and larger industry trends, you can make better judgement calls.
Anand explains the questions you should be asking yourself, “As a brand you need to know: Who is your customer? Is someone already servicing that consumer? Is there an opportunity there? Can you fill that void? Know your value proposition and scale it quick, otherwise someone else will.”
The more in-tune you are with what is going on in the industry, and how you can mold your business to fit it best, the greater likelihood you have for long-term success.
Learn and evolve.
One of the key traits of any successful entrepreneur is the ability to constantly learn and adapt to changing environments. This is because, regardless of the industry you are in, it is constantly evolving to meet different demands. To stay ahead of the curve and ensure your competitors don’t surpass you, a successful entrepreneur has to remain flexible and adaptable.
Anand explains, “As an entrepreneur you wear many hats. For example, a few hours during the day I might be focused on designing the collection we are going to showcase 6 months from now. And then, few hours later, I’ll be working with our awesome Account Execs on their client’s concerns, sales cycle and planning future road trips.”
Change requires courage. Now, with these three tips — whether you’re going from working at a firm to owning your own company…or pivoting from one industry to another – you are better equipped for success.