Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Misha Kaura and I’m an entrepreneur. I work as a couturier and fine artist via my holding company Darlinghurst Enterprises, which controls my eponymous fashion label Misha Kaura, my home décor artwork, and a garment factory. I love that I get to combine my acumen in commerce with my talent in design and my passion for media. Outside of art and design, I’m also starring in a reality television show “Misha Kaura: The Label” releasing in Fall 2019.
What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?
As you rise above others professionally and become a public figure, you will attract both admiration and some vitriol. You have to have a really thick skin and not let either extreme get to your head; one day, you’re loved, one day, you’re insulted, and then you’re loved again. It’s a cycle of highs and lows, so staying grounded as your world changes in every way is so key. The only thing that you can control is your mindset and positive attitude.
What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.
I think my favorite mistake is listening to the advice of fashion “management consultants” instead of following my gut instinct. When I started my label, I spoke to a self-styled “consultant” with charm but no business acumen. She told me to focus on the designer market, which is not what my gut was telling me to do. However, because of her esteem in the fashion community, I took her advice, and it was not a good experience. I managed to get distribution in 8 countries by age 25, but a lot of the retailers she recommended to me did not even pay me despite signing contracts and promising to pay after I delivered the dresses. I fired her, took some time to study the industry on my own, enrolled in a JD/MBA program, and decided to focus on couture. The legal knowledge I’ve gained thus far is so helpful because I write my own contracts, I demand full payment upfront for all my designs sold wholesale, and I have created multiple revenue streams.
Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?
I think the fashion industry will be extremely different in a decade due to the proliferation of robotic-enabled factories and the new on-demand machines Amazon is building. We’re going to see a lot of mass market artisans in a dire position. I also think that the market will see a resurgence of made-to-measure, couture, and haute couture. Why buy designer when you can buy couture?
What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
There’s a lot of bad advice out there, but I think the worst thing is that a lot of these self-styled fashion “management consultants” advise young designers copycat the marketing strategies of much more established designers. What worked for private equity backed designer A is not going to work for venture capital backed designer B, nor will it work for bootstrapped designer C. Sometimes creatives need to tune out everyone and just do their most artistic and genuine output, without giving mind to what these consultant types think. A lot of the consultant types came up to me and asked why I cancelled press, changed the strategy, moved to Paris, and I don’t owe them any explanation. I do my own thing and it’s working thus far.
In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?
Everything. We only get so much time in the day. It is impossible to be everything to everyone. I need a lot of time to focus on my creative and highly artistic process, and sometimes that means turning down invitations to social events.
What is the one book you recommend most often and why?
I really recommend the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Young people keen to make it in business, regardless of industry, need to read this. Creative visualization and speaking what you desire into existence is a vital life skill.
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
Read “The Effective Executive” by Peter Drucker and make sure you know your strengths and your weaknesses. Design your life with the aid of “How Will You Measure Your Life?” by Clayton Christensen and be thoughtful about only choosing what gives you joy. Ignore any advice that puts you in a dependent position on anyone—a manager, a consultant, future spouse, family members, etc.—because you should always strive to be self-reliant and self-sufficient.
What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?
I’m a big believer in creative visualization. I love the Matthew 7:7 passage: “ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Everything in the world is able to be conquered, and it’s possible to be anything, do anything, achieve anything with belief, desire, hard work, and prayer.
They can email me at any time. My personal email is mkaura[at]mac[dot]com. I owe all of my success to mentors and professors who took me under their wing and I’m happy to be of service to the next generation of leaders!
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