09 Sep Getting Wild with Laura
Bold, sexy and confident. Meet Laura Patricia Chandran, the owner of Urban Niche – a sassy swimwear brand that we are excited to have onboard as the latest member of our FABSPY family.
As a newcomer to the ever-growing swimwear industry in Malaysia, Urban Niche is definitely a name to watch out for. The brand houses a plethora of monokinis and bikinis with designs that boldly stand out from the crowd and are always seductive and fun, much like the owner herself. Laura has had a diverse range of work experience prior to starting Urban Niche. She was a freelance model for 7 years whilst working as a part-time travel writer at Am Leisure Media. Today, Laura also emcees and organises fashion events on the side. No matter how busy her schedule keeps her, fashion is a constant influence and source of inspiration in her day. She keeps up-to-date with the latest fashion trends and styles with every season. Laura has the ability to wear many hats in her personal and professional life, so it’s no wonder she has a savvy business drive and eagerness to keep fresh and open to learning new things.
So, how did it all begin?
Laura’s modelling career began when she was still studying at University. When casually accompanying a friend to a photoshoot, Laura met a photographer who offered to take some portfolio shots for her. Soon after, she started scoring small gigs for commercial shoots on a regular basis. It became the perfect way to earn some side income. Upon graduation, Laura started working as a fashion writer before moving on to travel writing. Whilst she enjoyed building her career, the tight deadlines and long working hours became overwhelming. Life was starting to feel lackluster, so Laura made a bold move and decided to pursue her passion. From there Urban Niche was born, and since then she has never looked back. With the support of family and friends, it was the boost of confidence and sense of fulfilment that she needed. Laura always knew she wanted to start a swimwear business thanks to her part-time stint as a swimwear model and upon reflection, Laura feels she made the right choice, as “[she] has experience in knowing what type of swimwear works”. Laura constantly works towards better designs and gets ideas and inspiration from other international (and more well-known) counterparts like Beach Bunny, Victoria’s Secret and Triangl.
Just like any business, Laura’s entrepreneurial journey has come with struggles, tough decisions, and challenges. For example, she notes it is often difficult to ensure that material and printing are up to standard, especially when working on a tight budget. At other times, manufacturers have a minimum quantity order, which is usually more than what Laura needs as her business is still in its infancy.
Despite this, Laura says that “[she] is blessed with a good circle of people who want to see her thrive”. With the help and encouragement of her friends in the industry, Laura knows that she wouldn’t be where she is today without them. Throughout her career as a model and writer, Laura has met other fellow models, photographers, makeup artists and those in the fashion industry. Many of these individuals have become her lifelong friends and showed their support by helping her when she first started Urban Niche – like assisting her with photoshoots.
The business initially started off small with Laura selling her products through Facebook and Instagram. Eventually with time, people began to notice the brand and her hard work paid off. These days, Urban Niche products are being sold in two Reds Revenge Outlets in Paradigm Mall and Publika, while also going online with her own e-store and on FABSPY.com.
As the brand continues to grow, future plans include producing party dresses and functional gym-wear for the urban women of today. However, Laura insists that “swimwear will always be the main focus of Urban Niche”.
With hard work and determination, Laura is well on her way to achieving success. We had the chance to meet Laura for a fun photoshoot, and she also shared some of her favourite Urban Niche pieces. Check out the photos below.
What do you love about modelling?
I think modelling is a great experience! Every job is different, and you constantly get to meet new people with many different talents so it’s never a dull day on set. I’ve met so many models, photographers, makeup artists and designers throughout my career, some of which have become my really good friends till today.
I also get to travel for certain jobs, which is usually pretty fun and exciting! So far I’ve had gigs in Singapore, Thailand, Australia and LA, all of which have been great as I get to work with people of different backgrounds and cultures. My best experience as a model was probably getting “Shredded” by the legendary Adam Saaks! I’ve been a huge fan of his since forever and I still can’t believe I got to work with him. It was absolutely amazing!
Based on your experience, what are some of the struggles that you face as a business owner?
Well, I think in business there is always a high risk when you start off but if you make the right choice, your returns will be just as high. Of course, you also have to be careful with who you trust as many people out there can be manipulative and want to steal your ideas to make it their own. Business can take a while to pick up when you first start off, but I believe anything is possible with hard work and determination.
What have you learned so far in the industry?
I think in this industry, it’s always good to be on point and to be aware of your personal strengths and weaknesses. It is also good to be open to collaborations with other brands and clients as it can sometimes lead to bigger and better things. As I mentioned before, it’s also very important to work with people you trust and get to know their intentions before diving head first into things.
What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be like you?
My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs would be to pursue a field that you are passionate about so that you love your job so much it never has to feel like work. It might start of slow but it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to build a brand. There will always be ups and downs in business, but it’s important to stay positive and never give up on your goals and ambitions.
If you could have any celebrity to wear your swimsuits, who would it be and why?
I would definitely want to see Candice Swanepoel or Adriana Lima in Urban Niche! They happen to be my two favorite Victoria’s Secret models and I think they both have the perfect bikini body. My personal preference for swimwear models are girls who look fit instead of just skinny, and I find both these women very inspiring.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure is shopping for stuff I don’t need! I admit I’m a shopaholic! Lol. I just can’t help myself sometimes especially when it comes to clothes. I really can’t be left alone in a mall for too long without buying something even though I know there is literally no more space left in my wardrobe.
Favourite style icon.
Well I know a lot of people out there hate on the Kardashians but I just love Kylie Jenner’s style! I think she knows exactly how to dress for different occasions and some of her outfits are to die for! Not only does she pick the right outfit, but her hair, makeup and accessories are always on point. She also wears a lot of Balmain which happens to be one of my personal favourite designers, and is not afraid of making drastic changes to her look. I’ve actually used some of her swimwear as inspiration for my own personal collection which have turned out to be some of my best selling pieces to date!