Hi! I’m Nora Swann. I am a NZ-born Samoan/Niuean and currently live in South Auckland. I am founder of Kila’s Style Ltd (Kila’s) and am a fashion-stylist guru. I’m new at this blogging business so for my first post, I’d like to tell you a lil’ bit about myself and how my love for fashion and style came about……
I have been in and out of the fashion scene for 4 years now. I say ‘in and out’ because, up until a couple of months ago, my love of fashion and helping people with their personal style was just a hobby – I loved doing this but I wasn’t really making any money from it, well at least not enough to feed my family. Back in 2011, I entered and won a styling competition run by CLEO magazine which gave me the opportunity to put my fashion ideas into action and form my own business – Kila’s Style Ltd. I jumped in the deep end with my ‘trial and error’ attitude and casually followed my love of styling picking up fashion projects here and there. From that point onwards, I had a lil’ community of followers, helpers and supporters and opportunities started to come my way. The ishhh got real when recently I finally was able to answer my own million dollar question – ‘Who am I?’ Some people might call it a mid-life crisis but I would call it re-connecting with myself.
And now here I am finally taking my passion seriously, finding and fixing all the gaps in my business, ticking off ‘Start a fashion blog’ off of my extensive checklist and ready to embark on this new journey.
Fast forward 4 years since Kila’s first started and here I am still climbing all these mountains, searching high and low just like how the mother superior from ‘The Sound of Music’ preached.
So much has happened…….I have experienced a lot of highs, some shitty lows. I’ve had to deal with the stressful nature of building my own business from scratch and on my own. My personal style evolved and the biggest transformation of all my own self-growth and self-development.
On the other hand some things haven’t changed. I still dress like I’m 15 when I feel like it and play MEAN dress-up with my two daughters. I’m still holding down my day job (somewhere else and non-fashion-related) restricted and confined when it comes to self-expression but revealing the real Miss Kila’s whenever I can with colour, quirk and cheek. I’m using every spare hour outside of family time (staying married to my awesome husband and raising my ‘boo-boo’ daughters) to really get my work out there while learning the industry. And I am still wearing clothes that make sense to me and I’m absolutely FREAKN lovin’ it!!
Like many Samoans born and bred in NZ, life consisted of the usual Samoan upbringing –busy with family events and commitments, church, being a member of the church choir, Sunday school, youth group until I grew up, moved out and had a family of my own. Outside of school, church and family life, I had interests in playing netball and learning the Japanese language and culture
As soon as I turned 18 I started to experiment with fashion and reinvented myself as often as I could. This is when I really started to question my own identity and became very curious about what was happening in the big bad world. I honestly don’t know what hit me; maybe it was just pure adulthood!
My fashion experimental phase continued through to my mid 20s and these were the toughest years. Remarks were coming left, right and centre. Back then no-one really stood out but the few of us who did were really made to feel like outsiders. I still remember being asked ‘OMG, what are you wearing!?’ in a ‘Are you crazy!!?’ tone. I remember being laughed at by a bunch of girls, some of them who I considered friends at the time who didn’t even try to hide the fact that they were talking about me. Who could forget being called a slut for wearing a short dress when I hadn’t even had my first boyfriend yet! And of course the classic that I was on weight loss pills to stay slim because how else could a Samoan girl be so skinny? Yep, people can be real nasty…and ignorant.
Then I became a mum and that added another element of how I was ‘supposed’ to dress. Man, I was baffled and constantly thought ‘Do I dress how I’m supposed to dress or be true to myself?’
When I found my true calling as a Personal Stylist I pushed myself even further with fashion and it helped me build on my self-confidence that had been knocked down so often in the past. The flair and passion was always short lived as my past always found a way back into my current life.
That was until 2 months ago. In my typical unexpected moment of realisation I finally figured out who I am…….
I am doing what I love doing – styling, experimenting, pushing fashion boundaries….. living.