We are thrilled to introduce our muse this month: Sandy Kaur Gill. Sandy is someone who embodies the word muse in every sense. She's kind, inspirational, strong and so, so wise. We were lucky enough to have her chat with us this August.
Sandy could you please introduce yourself to our SLC community?
Hi, I’m Sandy Kaur Gill and I'm a teacher, [author!], and fashion creative from the GTA.
That’s a fun combo!
I'm an elementary school teacher — that's what I went to school for. That's what I'm trained in. That's what I have my master's in.But I started doing fashion shortly after I got accredited as a teacher and I’ve done them both for a while.
How did that come about?
With teaching, it was pretty simple. I loved being with kids. This was something I always knew that I was good with children and that I liked being around them. So turning it into a profession was great. But after that, I had no idea; the fashion stuff kind of just came about. I was always someone who loved fashion and expressed myself through it, but didn't ever think that it could be a job or something that could earn me money or even something I could do seriously. And when I was doing my masters, that's when Instagram was just starting. I began to post photos of outfits and lay them out on the ground and upload them to Instagram with some fashion info and tips. And that started to grow slowly. That led to me dressing some of my friends who were also in the creative space, and slowly that turned into work, and I started being a stylist.
What was important to me about fashion, was that it’s not necessarily about wearing fancy clothes or wearing couture or expensive things. It was more so about expressing my personality and how I was feeling through my outfits. And I continued to do that with my work. And I turned it into a business. From dressing people, to working with brands online, and becoming a name in the fashion space.
That is incredible. The fact that you get to pursue not one, but two passions — that’s huge! So early on we’re instilled with this idea that there’s just one path.
I think that a lot of that came from my parents because they were never, like, we need you to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer. They were just like, do something that you can pay your bills with, because life is gonna cost you money and you need to be secure. Their big thing was security. So they were happy with me being a teacher. They're still so happy with me having that.
You’ve been in this social media space for a while now. How has content creation been as of late? Is there an urgency to constantly create or do you find yourself busier than ever?
You know what, I feel like I kind of went the opposite way. I really slowed down my content creation ever since all of this started. And because I started with my Instagram page almost 10 years ago, I was making consistent content for whichever way made sense to me eight years ago. And I was doing the “how to” style videos four years ago — that's how my page started. So I kind of did that on overdrive for like six years and over COVID I kind of just got really tired of it. It brought me no joy.
I like to make stuff that I like to share and I don't wanna be on a schedule. I don't want to be on a — gotta share this time, this day, hashtag, etc. I dropped that over COVID because I just realized it's cyclical and you go through it once. You make all the content, you stay consistent, you get all the likes, you go viral and then it stops for everyone. And then you go around the circle again. And at a certain point, at least for me, I was just like, this is not fulfilling for me. Especially as someone whose main job is a teacher. I leave the classroom feeling fulfilled every day. So this just was not gratifying for me.
And I may not have a super fast growing following, or super high engagement, but brands know that at least I'm making and sharing stuff that I truly believe in. So I've kind of just pivoted and changed that. I'm spending a lot more time doing things that I love, like taking care of family and planning out the next few years of my life.
I’m in my thirties and just figuring out what is next. I've been doing a lot more self care, becoming a lot more spiritual, spending some time doing nothing, more time with family, more time traveling, just trying to fill my days with that kind of stuff versus me just chasing the next like thing to share on the internet
For sure. The dopamine hit that you get from Instagram it's not a fulfilling hit. Do you see the effect on your kids that you teach with social media?
A hundred percent. It's sometimes scary. Since I started teaching, my kids have had cell phones, so it’s always been scary — knowing that they have this attachment to devices and access to information all the time, that's always been a source of anxiety. I've tried my best to create an environment where they don't have to rely on their devices like that. Even with what I’m posting, I try my best to be thoughtful and take it into consideration that there are kids watching what we do online.
That is so interesting, in a way your approach is self-preservation as well. To circle back you mentioned self-care. What does that mean to you?
For me self-care really means being gentle and kind and intentional with my relationship with myself. To me, what life is, is about practicing self care and learning who you are and treating yourself with kindness and trying your best to be a good person. I don't think it's all just about getting my nails done — it’s that kind of stuff too, because that brings you peace and makes you happy. But I think a lot of it has just been understanding myself and being kind to myself and taking the time every day to be in a relationship with myself.
That's huge. I mean, that's a constant lesson that I think a lot of us are learning. How do you stay true to yourself in this content space. I think we're moving to better times where people are appreciating real content creators versus a cookie cutter approach. Have you ever felt pressured to go in a certain direction?
I would say like the only real pressure that I felt was pressure that I put on myself in the past. Being online, comparing yourself to other people, being like, “Oh my god, you're not growing as fast as so-and-so or you're not getting as many likes as so-and-so. But I think one thing that definitely stayed the same was the fact that I was still getting work. And I think that for me was something I had to always remind myself — you can't be that person that's creating that much content and pushing out that much stuff because at the end of the day, it doesn't make you happy.
So I realized a lot of the pressure was just me putting it on myself and forcing myself to be something that I wasn't or something that I'm not. And that goes back to self-care — trusting the process and becoming more faithful, praying, taking time to meditate and just taking a chill pill every day and being like, you're good. It's okay. Everything that you did today was what you could have done. You made all the right decisions and it's okay to not do anything else. And just maybe watch a movie for the rest of the day and hang out with your nephews and just go to sleep. Just really embracing that slower pace and being more intentional.
Wow. That sounds so simple, but it’s such a difficult thing to actually follow through with.
It's been two years of depression and just working, and honestly being my best friend — and truthfully that sometimes is fun and sometimes it's not.
As you know our intention this month was Pause. How do you find the balance between work, passion and pause?
I think it's important to find a community, and find something that you believe in that can keep you grounded, especially in this time where everything is crazy. So it's important to find something that you believe in that is not online, that's not in this world of social media that you can always turn to, to feel grounded and to feel good and safe. And never forget that your most important relationship is with yourself. Continue to just make that a goal in life — understand yourself better and be a better friend to yourself.
Photography by Nabra Badr