Quaratine Creatives: Dr Anna Najran

Dr Anna Najran is definitely a dentist that I would not be terrified of going to see. As we sat for our conversation, it was clear that this personable doctor takes interest in her patients and not just their teeth. As gorgeous Anna indulged me in her schedule for the day, it was already lined with webinars and conference calls. The life of this busy woman was laced in her thirst to perfect her craft within dentistry and learn more, but my conversation with Anna lay outside the realms of her very successful career. Alongside her thriving dentistry journey Anna has worked on some major lifestyle changes to better not only her health, but her mindset too.

Having grown up in Birmingham, Anna was a top -class student and her hard work resulted in her pursuing her dreams of becoming a dentist. Having graduated from the University of Leeds in 2016 (with a distinction), Anna is now qualified and continually growing.

Following her success in Dentistry, a trip to the Doctors became the catalyst for her healthcare and fitness journey. With the danger of suffering with high cholesterol and having lost someone close to a heart attack, Anna was snapped into her wellness exploration. Admitting to having tried many diets and fads in the past, she revealed that people had gotten used to her fluctuating weight. In 2018 she took her fitness and health into her own hands. By first beginning to monitor her food intake and educating herself in nutrients, she was focused and ready.

“I couldn’t run from one side of the airport to the other!”

Seeing how passionate Dr Anna was about her work, I could see how this would transfer to her health pilgrimage. By investing in a personal trainer, Anna rationalised this as a good thing rather than a waste of money and encourages people to do the same.

“The money that I’m going to spend on food and takeaways and just crap, I will invest in a Personal Trainer”

Starting her gym journey in January 2019, Anna cheekily admitted she had never really given exercise a proper go. After a full health assessment from her gym, she began training twice a week with her trainer and working on a set plan outside of that. As a clear optimist, it surprised me when Anna admitted she would compare herself to others at the gym.

“I just want to get myself healthy”

After the first two months of her lifestyle change, Anna had already lost 1.5 stones and restored her BMI to healthy and her cholesterol began returning back to normal. With the goal not being vanity, but her health, Anna’s mindset and approach was more sustainable than any diet she’d ever done before. Tracking her macros and nutrients at the start of her journey gave her the education she needed to now be more conscious of what she’s putting in her and now her family’s body.

“I don’t track anything anymore, but the first thing I do is get my veggies out”

Since being at her heaviest Anna has lost 4.5 stone and has never felt better. From her motivational mindset to her actions, she is now looking healthy and more importantly has changed her attitude towards food and lifestyle. It has become habitual and makes her feel good, and spreading positivity is at the forefront of her living. Lush.

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.