Tamika Auwai is constantly surprising me.
Not only is she extremely friendly, outgoing and incredibly stylish – she’s also a triple black diamond skier, knows all about clog dancing, she’s a thriving entrepreneur and mother to an adorable four year-old.
I met Tamika Auwai over three years ago, when we were both starting our businesses and her vibrant energy struck me completely. When I was looking for someone I could rely on and trust as my Style Editor for The Hip + Urban Girl, Tamika Auwai was the only person I considered.
She has now gone on to launch a very successful fashion consulting business and we still find time to catch-up over lunch or coffee. Tamika Auwai shares her style tips and life advice this week with me as our latest This Beautiful Life profile:
How did you find your calling as a Wardrobe Expert?
When I left the corporate world in 2008, I knew immediately I wanted to be immersed in fashion but I have to admit, I was a little scared to own that title at first. Then, as I built a successful fashion event based business, I started having women in my community and network reaching out to me for style advice.
In that, and through acting as Style Editor for hipurbangirl.com, I realized I had been playing the role all along in my life and that I really had a wealth of style knowledge that just came naturally to me. I always chose my father’s suits and ties for conferences and was the resident stylist for my friends at every stage of life. It was a call that took me a little while to answer but it was always there.
What’s a typical day in the life of Tamika Auwai?
When you’re working from home and running more than one business, there really is no typical day! I try to start each day with some “me” time. I’ll have a morning snuggle with my daughter, exercise, have breakfast and then outline my areas of focus for the day.
I’ve found batching my tasks makes me far more productive so some days I’ll be writing, making sales calls or planning events from home, others I’ll be out and about with clients or meeting with designers and taking in media previews. I get bored doing the same thing all the time so I actually thrive on the fact that there’s not really predictability to my work week.
You’re also a Mom to an adorable four year-old. What tips & tricks can you share with women trying to balance work and family?
Honestly, my biggest A-HA moment as an entrepreneur and a mom came when I realized that there is no such thing as balance! Sometimes my business is consuming and I have to give it my full attention but the same goes for my family at times too. Rather than driving myself crazy trying to chase balance, I prefer to focus on being present with whatever it is I’m doing at the time.
When I’m with my family, it’s all about them. When I’m working with clients or on an event, I give that my laser focus as well. It’s also super important to have a great support system. My family life would suffer if I didn’t have the support of my husband and our parents and in my business I’d never make it if I didn’t have great partners and awesome interns.
What are four staples every woman should have in her closet?
I think staples can change depending on age and lifestyle but every woman really should have flattering dark-wash denim, a crisp white blouse, a great tailored blazer and a dress that makes her feel fabulous. Accessories and trends can come and go but if you have these four you can go from work to weekend effortlessly.
Can I match black shoes with a brown bag?
Of course you can! Matchy-matchy is really dated. Rather than worrying about whether your shoes and bag match, just ensure they ‘go’ with your outfit. For example, if you’re wearing pieces that include shades of black and brown it’s totally acceptable to wear black shoes with a brown bag. Keep in mind there are also various shades of brown. A really deep chocolate or espresso bag will read as black anyway so feel free to pretend it is and a light pebble brown reads more as a cream or taupe so it’s an easy complement to black as well.
Tamika Auwai in NYC
Can I mix navy and black EVER?
The old fashion rules are dead — no white after labour day or no navy and black. I think when black and navy is done in a really deliberate way and with fabrics of different textures, it can work. If it feels a little foreign to mix those two shades try adding a bolder blue in the mix. A few pops of cobalt, for example, can pull the look together.
What is the single most important non-negotiable thing for you when designing your lifestyle and career?
I spent many years in corporate jobs I didn’t really love so if I’m not feeling over the moon excited about something I’m doing in my business, I won’t do it or I’ll make changes so that the love is there. There are many highs but also many sacrifices in starting and running your own business but being in love with every moment of it is what makes it worthwhile.
I also find that the passion and fulfillment I feel through my career spills over to push me to create those same feelings in all aspects of my life as well. Follow your bliss is an adage that works for me.
What do you do to de-stress?
I’m a bit of a hippie in spirit so I’ll mediate or practice yoga if I need to just decompress from a hectic day. I also love running around with my daughter at the park or just flipping through a glossy magazine over a cup of tea. Time at the spa also helps and I’m a bit of a foodie so sometimes tackling a really awesome recipe is a creative outlet I’ll turn to.
Best piece of life advice to share?
It’s not selfish to put yourself first. As women we sometimes let the needs of others trump our own but it’s okay to choose you. If you neglect yourself in any area of life it will catch up to you and it won’t be pretty. Make yourself a priority and save yourself some major life drama.