Get Glou | Avanti

by Nisha Btesh April 19, 2021

Get Glou | Avanti

Tell us about how you became the woman you are today. Where did you grow up? What moments in life have influenced your character most? Where did you grow up? 

So! My background is Indian, but I was born in Sharjah (the United Arab Emirates). My mum,dad and sister were living there for work before I was born and they hopped around Sharjah, Dubai & Abu Dhabi until I was 5. That’s we all moved to Sydney, Australia. We stayed there until my Dad got a job in Singapore so relatocated there when I was in 4th grade. We stayed there for 2 years until we moved back to Sydney. I stayed put for a while until 2014, when I moved to Los Angeles. 

The experience of moving around at such a young age has taught me so many valuable lessons that I sometimes take for granted. Firstly, my love for travel will never fade. I get an adrenaline rush every time I think of exploring a new place. I was taught to be flexible & adaptable in order to survive in my new environment. As a kid making new friends each time we got to a new place was challenging (especially since I was such an introverted kid) but I relied on my love for dance, travel, swimming, music & food to spark friendships. 

The woman I am today. 

I studied a Bachelor of Arts (Sociology and International Relations - so random) all while working at Universal Music and dance training/ performing on the weekends. Once I graduated, I couldn't get a job in anything I specialised in so I applied for Law School, as I had an interest in entertainment law & contracts working at UM. I somehow got accepted, finished Law School and graduated in 2012. I wanted to take a break to travel more, take a breather before I jumped into a full-on legal career, but I was offered a super corporate role as a Junior Lawyer at American Express in their Contracts division. This was all within the month of graduating - it was hard to say no to at the time so dove right in. I enjoyed the corporate lifestyle for a while: had a decent salary, I got to dance & perform on the weekend, travel - lived a pretty cruisy lifestyle with zero risk or real challenges. 

When my then boyfriend / now husband moved to LA to pursue his music career, I got a reality check and realized, what I’m doing is not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I had so many ideas to explore & was always itching to be more creative. In 2013 my boyfriend proposed (that's a story in itself - long distance love pre whatsapp & Zoom era haha) and I moved to LA in 2014. That’s when everything changed…(i think for the best!).

What moments in life have influenced your character most?

The moments that have influenced my character the most have been:

Dance: I started dancing at the age of 5 and this is something that I cherish & love with all my heart. I studied Indian Classical until I graduated from my repertoire at 15 with, essentially a teaching accreditation. I was in 10th grade and wasn’t interested in teaching yet so my dad introduced me to Flamenco - that’s when I was hooked and started taking lessons - something I’ve continued to this day. Dancing gave me confidence & allowed me to meet some of my dearest friends, it allowed me to travel (I went to Seville by myself in 2013 to do an intensive training course for a month - best experience ever!), 

Moving to Los Angeles: I moved to LA in 2014 with my husband and feel like I discovered a whole other side of myself. This was a real creative awakening & built the foundations of my entrepreneurial journey. 

Failing the California Bar Exam - this was a turning point and set the stage up for my creative career. The irony is I ended up doing entertainment law after all that.  

Starting my first business - Creative Pencil Studio: this was my first baby; a service based business that taught me how to be a creative entrepreneur.  It was the first time I thought - wow - I can make money by doing something I truly enjoy. It also was what made me start glōu.

Starting my second business - glōu: Baby glōu brought on its own challenges and excitement. Jumping from a service based biz to a product based one was overwhelming, at the same time so fulfilling. When you see that product in your hand the first time after hundreds of hours of designing, iterating, waiting…(crying lol)...it’s a whole other feeling!

I feel like I’ve lived 5 different lives over the last 7 years. I can’t begin to say how grateful I am to do things that I always daydreamed about as a confused teen. When I was around 20-21, I had gotten a piece of paper divided into 4 corners and written the following in each:

DANCE. LAW. DESIGN. TRAVEL - wondering how I was going to merge all these together in order to do something I truly loved. 15 years later, I guess figured it out - completely by accident!

 Tell us about the exact moment or period in time when you realized you were going start/launch your current company/brand. Do you remember what led you to this moment/decision?

This was when I was running Creative Pencil Studio and working with so many amazing female entrepreneurs, helping them create fun stop-motion videos for their businesses. 

I used to mood board concepts for their brands + come up with ideas and was living vicariously through them. I thought how cool would it be to have your own brand so you could do fun content like this ALL the time! (Cut to “2021 Avanti” laughing out loud at “2018 Avanti”). I started toying with the idea of what product I would create - and went through COUNTLESS ideas (starting with the Brand Plan actually!). At the time I was sharing a co-working studio with some kickass female entrepreneurs who were in fashion who really encouraged me to start a fashion line. To give you a background - I've never been a ‘fashion brandsy’ person. I love sustainable clothes, vintage markets, if I love a piece of clothing, I’ll wear it until it literally falls apart and have no shame in repeating outfits. Having said that, i LOVE styling and the theatrical aspect that comes with putting together an outfit (maybe because of dance and being obsessed with costumes!!!). I also love versatile & comfortable pieces that I could wear from A to B. With this in mind, I thought wow, starting a label that aligns with what I believe in will be a challenge - having things made to order, low to no inventory, finding high quality deadstock material, keeping production local in LA, all while targeting creative professionals on the move...it all felt impossible...until I decided to take up the challenge. 

Tell us about your company, your brand ethos and your products! We love a good detail!

glōu [pronounced “glow”] is the feeling you get when you do something you love. I wanted to build a brand around the feeling I get when I dance, or am on set shooting with my friends, or illustrating / animating. It’s the feeling I never had in previous full-time jobs. It’s the feeling that pulled me out of my darkest hour. It’s a mix of hope, inspiration, motivation & pure joy. 

Glōu is a fashion & lifestyle brand for creatives on the move. It started as purely a fashion line designed for creative professionals living and working  in LA, who need comfortable, versatile  clothing to get them through their long days on set, in the studio or behind the camera. I launched glōu a month after we went into full lockdown in 2020. As the pandemic hit, nobody was really on the move, but still needed for comfortable & versatile clothing increased. I tossed and turned on whether to launch at all, but am so grateful I went with my gut as May, June, July & August were my best sales months to date! 

Sustainability 

Glōu’s signature collection is made from deadstock cotton twill that we dye locally with non-toxic dye. Reusing or recycling deadstock means that we are reducing the need to order new rolls of fabric, especially if there are large minimums, which reduces the impact on the environment and avoids overstock and textile waste. 

Supporting Local Economy 

I love working with small-batch factories in LA. Firstly because our ‘made-to order’ model eliminates overstock and excess inventory. It also connects me to the person who is making the garment and I can see the direct impact glōu sales have in their family & lifestyle 

 Many women out there are talented & have fantastic ideas but are scared to quit their steady day job and make the jump. What’s your take? How did you make the leap to turn your passion into a paycheck?

So full disclosure - I’m actually juggling both a full-time job and glōu! I work at Buck, a motion graphic studio that does cool illustration and animation for clients like Google, Facebook, Tik Tok and im basically their in-house Business & Legal Affairs gal. 

There is so much talk & pride about quitting your day job so you can focus 100% on your passion, but I always say do what works best for you and your lifestyle. 

So this is a long story, but stay with me - i’ll give you some context that’ll help answer this question :)

I was a full-time entrepreneur for 4 years when I ran my animation studio, Creative Pencil Studio. I quit my full-time job in Australia to move to LA and had to start from scratch. I taugh myself how to animate and took up freelance roles paid and unpaid roles to build a portfolio.  I even did a stop-motion internship where I mainly cleaned up and made coffee - but was around so many creatives and learned so much about the industry! It gave me the confidence to start my open studio. 

I had the flexibility, I loved setting my own hours, deciding where to work (could continue working when I visited family in Australia or when I travelled with my husband for his work). It was great - until things got busier and I realized: if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Slowly the cache of a full-time entrepreneur was wearing off. I was working ALL the time, on every holiday, shooting and editing videos on the go, around the clock. I was fortunate to always be busy & had clients coming in, but t problem was my service based business was hard to scale. People were paying me for my ideas, my techniques and style and every time i tried hiring  a freelancer or outsourced the job, I would have to micromanage. I ended up having a few unhappy client on outsourced projects so  would have to do the entire video over again (if you’ve ever done any form of animation, you’ll understand how frustrating this got!!). 

I did this for 4 years. I started off LOVING it and ended up dreading getting another email about a potential new job. I physically couldn’t work on more than 4 projects a month - not nearly enough to sustain a lifestyle in LA.  All this stress was manifesting itself on my face, my body and in my relationship. I was breaking out, my back constantly hurting from hunching over the computer shooting on the floor and I was just not getting any down time. The thing that  i absolutely loved (and still do) about creating content was ideating, mood boarding & seeing these concepts come to life! But I asked myself,  “was this feeling worth barely making ends meet and living this unhealthy lifestyle?”  In Dec 2018 I decided to take a breather and figure out my next move. This was the same time I was tinkering with the idea of glōu. 

In Feb 2019, while I was doing the groundwork for glōu and finishing up my last few client projects, my friend recommended me for a role at Trailer Park, one of the biggest entertainment marketing companies in Hollywood. They create trailers for most of the movies we see + do large commercials and print campaigns. They were looking for a Director of  Business Affair for their legal and business affairs department. L&BA is basically an in house department that reviews talent contracts, licensing agreements, assess any risk for productions, vetts assets - basically makes sure everything is tick and tied before leaving the building & being published online. You don’t necessary need a law degree for the job, but definitely helps when drafting & interpreting contracts & T&Cs. 

Because of my experience at Universal Music, Amex and Creative Pencil where I was on the other side editing videos - this job seemed like the perfect blend of my past experience, interest, knowledge and love of art and animation.

At this point I needed to spend more $$ on material, patterns, packaging, marketing & other admin costs for glōu. I took a break from Creative Pencil, and dove into my role at Trailer Park. I went part-time around August of 2019 to focus on glōu and  back full-time around the start of 2020. I was here for 2 years until just a few months ago when I got offered the same position at one of my favorite animation houses- Buck Design. 

I’ve been juggling glōu and full-time work for over 2 years now and even though it gets overwhelming at times, I’ve realized I have needed both to stay sane. Coming into glōu with a legal background has helped look at my business from a thousand foot level. It also helped me register my glōu trademark, draft contracts, negotiate with vendors etc. I lean on glōu to give me the creative outlet that fills my cup. When I step away from glōu for a few days, I come back stronger and more eager to get creative, storyboard & create content & plan shoots. 

I would love to eventually just focus on glōu, however I think at the moment this lifestyle is  genuinely keeping me balanced and is exactly what I need in this season of my life. I meet so many amazing people through work and through glōu that I need both to feed my soul. 

What do you want the younger female entrepreneurs coming up behind you to know about you, your journey, and being a female business owner?

  • Never say Never: you don’t know where you’ll end up if you open yourself up to opportunities that come your way 
  • Don’t pave your path based on someone else’s.. Set your goals based on what you really want. 
  • Work smarter, not harder. You can work for 8 hours a day on your business and have no returns, or work 2 hours a day and be the most productive! 
  • Don’t take anything too seriously (except for your health!)

What made you align and want to partner with Hola Gwapa? What do you want the women in this community to know about our partnership?

Your energy girl! I’ve never met you, but I already know we are going to have a blast whenever we meet in person haha (ps hit my up when you are in LA!). At the end of the day, we are all just selling stuff. It’s the connection you have with people, their values and their stories that makes what you do more enjoyable! I love what Hola Gwapa is doing to create a community of creative entrepreneurs. Keep it up girl! So excited for this partnership. 

What should we know about your career? Was there one job, experience or mentor who made a major impact on your life and where you’re at today?

I’ve always had male bosses in all my earlier jobs until my last position at Trailer Park. My boss at Trailer park really believed in glōu and let me do work part time, despite the fact we were the only 2 people in the team servicing a company of 500 people. I was in awe of her experience as a criminal prosecutor in Chicago / now entertainment lawyer and learned a lot from her on how to balance work and family. She is such an inspiration and we are still good friends today! 

What do you stand for? What’s your mission? Where do you see your company/brand 10 years from now?

The ethos behind glōu is ‘everything you need, to do what you love’. It started as a fashion label but is now evolving more into a place where creatives come to find or purpose, to be inspired and motivated to keep doing what they’re meant to; to find their glow. This year I'll be shifting gloōu from being an apparel line to more of a lifestyle brand. We’ve got some exciting new partnerships, products and courses coming up which I cannot wait to share!

What is the biggest challenge you've faced as a female owned business? What are some advantages?

I’m proud to say I haven't yet encountered any challenges as a woman of color running a business. My community has been so supportive and have been extremely grateful. All the challenges I have faced until now have been in relation to entrepreneurship in general. However I do know that these challenges will present themselves if I ever need to seek funding / venture capital as many women in business do. This will be something I will need to tackle for my upcoming biz idea… :)

What has been your biggest learning lesson? Share a failure that stuck with you and taught you a lesson you’ll never forget. How did this impact you and business?

Paying for PR lol! I was approached by a large Beverly Hills PR agency who wanted to represent glōu. I was easily convinced and got carried away by the glitz and glamor and decided to trial it out for 3 months (their minimum retainer). The results were just ok. We got a couple of celebrity hits (but also sent out hundreds of samples). Not only did I lose money but wasted time on the wrong audience. That’s when I realize this is not the game I wanna play. I want my customers to love our story, sustainable high quality clothing and the message behind glōu. I stopped PR in Oct of 2020 and ironically my business has been getting better organic press  ever since haha. Just last month glōu was mention in goop in their monthly recommendations...was definitely a “pinch me” moment.

Lesson: don’t pay for PR until you a) are more established, b) have an extra $$$$K lying around. 

We love tips, tricks and any additional nuggets of career advice you can share: How do you stay motivated? What does your daily routine look like? Etc. 

So, shameless plug, but I really do rely on my Brand Plan: a business journal for creative we just launched. It keeps me organized and focused on tasks at hand (especially since I juggle both gloōu and work!). It’s undated so I can start at any month and I like to physically write down my goals, finances, to do’s for that month. 

I love my mornings and this is usually my high-productivity time. After I wake up, the first thing I do is my breathing exercises. Then make a cup of coffee / breakfast an catch up on glōu emails / orders. I usually have a quick chat with my factory if we have any new orders or updates. Then start my full-time job around 9ish. At lunch-time I check into glōu and see if I need to do anything or run any errands (i.e. shipping etc) or meet some friends for lunch. Then I continue on working for my full-time gig until around 7. I then exercise (either yoga, dance, go for a jog or jump on my mini trampoline haha), make dinner while catching up on podcasts. My husband and I eat  usually watch a couple of episodes of a show. After dinner I used to get back into work, but these days I’ve decided to not do that (unless it’s super important). This is the time I usually put on a candle and either sketch, draw or listen to a podcast on the couch to unwind. When we have foster pups (something we have been doing regularly) this is usually play time / nap time haha. I try to go to bed between 11:30-12pm. Everyday is so different though - but this is basically how it goes :)

How does it feel to own your own business? What are the highs and lows?

I love it! I loved starting my animation studio and I loved starting glōu. To see something developed from an idea into a product that people are  paying cold hard cash for is the best feeling ever. The lows during the time I had to studio was always feeling burned out and hardly saving. The lows with glōu is really being seen and heard on social & marketing the brand in such a saturated market. 

I thought this was going to be it...but I'm already itching to start the next one :)

So many women have a difficult time talking about money? What’s your take? Is this a topic that comes easy for you or do you still struggle? If you struggle - what specifically gives you the most anxiety when it comes to talking about money? Explain.

I don’t have a difficult time talking about money. We all need it to survive, especially if you live in a big city. I always say, if you’re not making money (or enough money) from what you’re doing, it’s a hobby or charity. Not a business. There are some hobbies I will never turn into a business i.e. dancing. This mindset helps me make decisions for glōu. For example, if a  product isn’t selling or costing more to produce & losing money, it’s out. 

What’s the most difficult financial hurdle you’ve had to overcome while running your business? Get specific!

When running my first business, I was also paying off my credit card, so everything I earned didn’t even see the light of day. I needed to switch my mindset and stopped doing jobs for free or for heavy discounts. It was tough. I really had to re-train how I thought about money (and asking for what I was worth). I started saying no to unpaid jobs, increased my prices and decided not to put anything on my credit card that I couldn't pay off.  

 Big or small, what’s the single best money making tip or piece of advice you can share with up and coming entrepreneurs?

Don’t borrow more than you can pay off. If you need more money to inject into your business, get a side job. Borrowing money can be dangerous especially when you are starting off. Learn how to be scrappy at the start. 

Share your resources with us! What tools, apps, websites, blogs, books, or podcasts help you the most when it comes to financials?

I love the Biz Chix podcast. I was a member of Natalie’s early masterminds and it did wonders for my business and mindset. I used Google docs and my Brand Plan tandem to keep my finances (P&L) in check. It’s also great because I can share the link with my bookkeeper.

 Are you a saver or a spender? When it comes to cash - what's your personal philosophy or mantra?

Saver. I hate spending if I don’t need to lol. I feel so guilty when I do. Except when it comes to fresh flowers, candles, travel and food - then money is never an issue lol.

What do you know for sure?

There is a solution for everything, you just need to believe it and search for it. 

What are you obsessed with right now?

My Ipad! Oh the possibilities!

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

No experience is ever wasted. 

It’s karaoke night and you're up. What song do you sing?

Ooh it'ss a tie between Just dance - Lady Gaga and Wannabe - Spice girls. Both epic. (Now I feel like singing haha!). 

Finish this sentence. When I die, put this on my tombstone…

Fulfilled. 

Finish this sentence. I find myself most inspired when I am…

I’m dancing or traveling. 

A genie grants you three wishes. What do you ask for?

Oh man, this is tough. Cliche, but I feel like these will make our lives easier...
  1. No more health issues / disease for everyone around the world.
  2. Free (and fast) travel for everyone (including pets). 
  3. No more crime. People just need to chill.  

Name 3 of your guilty pleasures. 

  1. Any and all Home Improvement / Real Estate shows.
  2. Tik Tok dog videos. 
  3. Redfin /  Zillow / Compass real estate apps (do you see a theme lol?). 

Name 3 brands you would like to see featured in The Gwapa Shop next and what you love about them.

  1. Gleam Eyewear @gleameyewear - such a sweet lady passionate entrepreneur. 
  2. Urbanwanderlust Candles @urbanwanderlust - love her vibe and products
  3. Homebase @homebase.goods - one of my closest friends and one of the most hard working mamma and business owners I know.

If you had to give 30 min. speech without preparing to an audience of 1,000 what would it be on?

Dance. I could talk for an hour lol. 

What’s something most people would be surprised to learn about you?

I used to play the drums and piano as a kid. 

I was a shy kid who didnt know how to speak English on my first day of Kindergarten - like zero (I still seriously don’t know how I survived and how my parents were totally chill about it lol). 

This was SOOOOO much fun lady thank you for the opportunity to share my story! xx




Nisha Btesh
Nisha Btesh

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