Quarantine Creatives: James Sahota

James Sahota

Sitting down for a conversation with James Sahota allowed me to understand the true meaning of hard graft. From educating himself on the property market to ensuring he gets the most out of his lifestyle, James is not one to shy away from hard work. This Property Investor oozes entrepreneurial spirit whose attitude is reflected across his different content platforms and became more apparent as we spoke. Locked and loaded with his headphones and mic, I got the full VIP podcast set up that I have seen on his content videos.

Raised as a second generation Indian in the UK, James is a through and through Londoner. Completing A-levels in Design and Business, he gave himself the platform to go and study at University. Being averse to living at home during his educational years, James decide to further study up North, in Manchester. Admittedly he ended up getting up to “all sort of mischief” and frankly trouble. Fights caused by James led to arrest and being faced with a judge in court. Thankfully for him the case was thrown out and so marked a turning point in his life. Graduating with an undergraduate degree in Product Design, James went on to remain in the city to pursue a Masters Degree in Industrial Design in 2003.

Showcasing a talent in design proceeded a teaching opportunity for James upon his return to London. Although it was simply an avenue to earn a wage, James made his debut onto the property ladder because of this and began paying his first mortgage (as encouraged by his Mother).

“It was almost like entertainment; I was on the stage and the kids were my audience”

As a qualified teacher, it didn’t take James long to realise that teaching wasn’t his calling and after a couple of years walked out. Yes, “walked out”. After an annoyance with another staff member, James simply got up and left, accompanied with the applause of his students.

With 24 days until his next mortgage payment was due, James delivered the confidence that he would be able to resolve his circumstance in time. In came the saviour that was E-Bay. James took to selling small prints online which then became the catalyst for him to start his business in print. This satisfied his need to work for himself, which wasn’t an easy-going journey. Within the first 5 years of his print business, he took to supply teaching on the side in order to allow him to continue developing his own company.

After 10 years in print, and admitting that it had “somewhat failed”, this was an end of a chapter in James’ life, which was the gateway to his development in the property world. It was at this point that I realised James was not shy of making mistakes and used his experiences for lessons in the future. Educating himself in property, flipping houses, and educating himself constantly has led to his successes and developments today.

“You should only have a plan A”

James gave me an insight into his work ethic, which was rooted in streamline planning. Utilising Trello and joint calendars, James is now very strict with his time allocation – something he learnt from working in print. At this point I was sitting cross legged out of sight from the camera, and felt the same satisfaction you do when indulging in organisational content online.

“Try not to have more than three or four things on your to-do list”

Having solidified his experiences in property, James creates educational content also. Advertising a ticket for a property conference is what allowed James to meet Tej, his Partner in crime for The Property Duo Podcast. Tej is also a property developer and has developed a strong working relationship with James. The Property Duo, as well as James’ own podcast, The J2 Hub podcast is a platform, for all things property, led by James and his featured guests.

Personally, I do not gravitate towards jargon laced podcasts, which is why the love is there for the J2 Hub Podcast. It is not only a place where James shares the dos and don’ts of property, but you can hear the stories and journeys of his panel. The relatability of the podcast is something that has been cemented for me after my chat with him.

Quarantine Creatives: Dan Khan

Daniyal Khan

Repping an Urban Panda hoody from the comfort of his living room, Daniyal Khan indulged me with an unfiltered conversation into his creative journey. It was apparent that confident energy and a fearless approach was primary to a lot of doors being opened for Dan. As the Brand Creator of Urban Panda Clothing, it became clear, that for Dan, clothing was only a piece in his creative jigsaw puzzle.

Born in Greater West London, Dan travelled back and forth between the UK and Pakistan and admitted he identifies more as a “Pakistani and a Londoner, rather than British.” Always the chatterbox, Dan favoured English and Drama whilst in school and used to relish in his grades even if they weren’t contributing to his final mark. This positive energy is something that I could see mirrored in his later years and was apparent throughout our conversation.

“Because of my upbringing, I was always polite, I was never a dickhead”

After making the decision to study outside of London, Dan went on to pursue Journalism in Sheffield. Choosing Sheffield Hallam over the University of Sheffield, Dan knew off the bat that a less traditional media approach is something he knew would navigate better. With an initial passion being sports commentary, Dan realised he wanted to encourage conversation and would later become primary to his ethos and business.

“If I score a goal on FIFA, I will fully commentate as though I’m commentating a game”        

During his final year at University, Dan began building the foundations for what was to become Urban Panda. By tapping into his natural entrepreneur, he realised that one of the quickest ways to be recognised and circulate a brand name was through clothing. The wheels got turning as a friend of his channelled his ideas into empirical designs. The band name, Urban Panda, came from a family trip to China.

Whilst in Beijing, a panda sanctuary sparked love for the animal. Being very aware that a panda is the animal of China, he didn’t want consumers to think the brand name was reflecting authentic Chinese style. By taking his interest for the panda, Dan added Urban at the front in order to “reflect the viewpoint of a Londoner or a major city in the west…Panda means pioneering, artistic, noble, daring and assertive”. With Panda initialling these personality traits, Dan wanted this to be reflective of his consumers and their engagement with Urban Panda.

P AN D A | L I F E

“You know pandas are the only animal in the world that are black, white and Asian all at the same time”

I tentatively asked Dan how he initially funded his ideas and his response left me speechless. Whilst at university, he saw the opportunity on Instagram called Rate me Please, a networking event hosted by Remel London which opened up a platform for budding entrepreneurs to win a cash prize for their pitch. With only £40 in his bank account, Dan halved that by making the trip to London from university. After getting some last-minute business cards printed, this Londoner was back on home turf ready to pitch. No product, no protype and no presentation, Dan used a rap to a panel of industry judges. From explaining the concept of Urban Panda to what he needed to progress Dan wowed the judges and won a sweet 10 grand… I know. Madness.

With the financial boost, he admitted he learned some life lessons about business and how sometimes baby steps are more effective than going whole hog straight away. With his primary focus being centred around wanting to start conversations, Urban Panda was the perfect platform to aid other creatives. From talking his way into Adidas launch parties, befriending Big Narstie to hosting phenomenal live events of his own, Dan utilised Urban Panda as a vehicle for development.

With Covid-19 putting many content creators and creatives in a different mental space, Dan is taking this time to reflect and not stress too much. His genuine energy is not only inspiring to other people, but I, myself, felt inspired from our conversation. With such faith in the South Asian community to grow together in a creative space spurred on the creation of South Asian Creatives networking event in Wembley. Once lockdown is over I will most certainly be present.