Inspiration + Drive with Sukhi Atwal

Dress: black-and-white checkered dress, Pantomime Autumn-Winter 2014

written by Alice Chiang
Art Direction & Photography | Roberutsu
Styling | Alice Chiang & Iris Woo
Makeup & Hairstyle | Liling Rachel Ong
Couture Design from Atelier Grandi

Two o’clock rolled around all too quickly. The studio was humming with activity, everyone was busy preparing for the afternoon session.

Without much warning, walked in the subject, the statuesque Sukhi Atwal, slender, elegant. With her was her even taller brother Jinder.

Almost immediately, one could sense the close bond between these siblings. Reality television aside, the duo really is a team. Isn’t this a little abnormal how supportive of each other you are? Not exactly the sarcastic quipping between most siblings…

“We really learned how to work together on the show”, said Jinder, “it wouldn’t help our performance if we were constantly pressuring each other, stressing each other out.”

Good point.

As Sukhi sat in the makeup chair, in an Atelier Grandi gown, Jinder casually took behind-the-scenes photographs. The floor-length, tartan gown, with fur-trimmed pockets, was very becoming on the her graceful figure.

Effortlessly, Sukhi pulled off every look our stylists threw her way, commanding each frame with her natural elegance.

She is personable, down-to-earth, and most importantly, she is driven. It is perhaps hard to imagine, as Sukhi and Jinder compete on The Amazing Race, but the pair passionately discussed their career inspirations, rattling off some of the all-time bestsellers they have read. Among these were Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, How to Win Friends and Influence Others by Dale Carnegie; the list went on.

As we talked, her passion for entrepreneurship and world travel shone through.

Dress: floor-length tartan gown with fur-trimmed pockets, Hieland Flouer Autumn-Winter 2015

What were you doing before The Amazing Race?

Before The Amazing Race, I had a business with my brother, we imported different health care products all across Asia. We decided to leave Canada in 2010, and contacted a friend of ours, “hey, we love the product of your company, we are going to take it into Asia.” And he was like, “Ok.” So we invested all our time, our own money, our own resources and honestly, it was the university of business on wheels. We learned business, literally, on the go. Advertising, marketing, everything. We didn’t make money for a year but we persevered and we didn’t give up. We had a vision and we did it. We brought [the products] into India, traveled around there. We went to Thailand, we started giving conferences, we started motivating people, we got distributors on board. It was a crazy wild ride, seeing the world while we did it. Then we were actually in Malaysia when we heard about The Amazing Race [Canada] the first season but we were in the jungles of Borneo, so we couldn’t send in the video tape. Then the following year we went home for Christmas, just for a week and we saw that they had auditions and we were contacted 5 days later and then we were on the race.

Was there any doubt that the show was right for you?

We wanted to [enter the race] forever, we were like, “dude, there’s no way we can’t win this, like seriously?” So as soon as we saw it, we just knew we would be on the race. It was not rocket science. The timing was perfect. It wasn’t like, “Oh, I hope we get picked.” The show was made for us.

The Amazing Race describes you both as “determined”. I see how they came to that conclusion.

It wasn’t an ego thing, we didn’t think, “we are the best.” We just thought, “we got this. We are going to be on the show.”

Blouse: high-neck chiffon blouse, Essentials Spring-Summer | Jacket: velvet lapel evening jacket, Essentials Autumn-Winter

So after the Amazing Race, what are you doing now?

We are entrepreneurs, so after the show, we imported from China, we designed a purse and brought that in around Christmas time. We are also really into fitness and we are starting our own fitness website business. We are also doing a lot of commercials, stuff in the media. We are working with a producer right now on a new show, helping the creative aspect of designing it, coming up with the idea of it, something new for us. We are really excited about it. We are also launching our own charity. There are a whole bunch of crazy projects on the go which are set to launch.

What is the most difficult about being someone who is making all these creative decisions?

The most difficult is having your vision and breaking it down into certain actions and steps. What is the next physical thing I can do to get this in motion. It is having the vision and knowing what steps to take.

You don’t want to be a dreamer, you want to be a doer.

I think you should dream crazy dreams. We only have one shot in life, make it crazy. “Get out of your own way” – you have to tell yourself everyday, like taking a shower, you can’t just take it once and never take it again. So to have a healthy mind, you constantly have to do it.

As an entrepreneur, who inspires you?

Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, any of these amazing authors. Robin Sharma, he is a Canadian. All these go-getters. Richard Branson is unbelievable. He is a crazy visionary. He was a poor student, he was like, ‘I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna live a big dream.’ We had the honour of meeting him and a lot of influential people. Like I said, they get out of their own way, out of their own head. Bill and Melinda Gates, we were just at their foundation in Seattle, but to just work with them, and sit on a panel with them, that is our dream. [Our dream] is to have one of the greatest charities and mastermind with these amazing visionaries and amazing thinkers.

Ensemble: black suit with fur sleeve on equestrian jacket, Pantomime Autumn-Winter 2015

Do you have any books that inspires you?

Of course, classics like, Think and Grow Rich, my brother loves, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I see him mastering those skills every single day.

If you have someone that inspires you, or something that entices something in you, see it, look at it everyday. Keep it inside of you because what inspires me, might be something different for you. So whatever it is, keep it alive. It has to be constantly in your mind.

You an Jinder seem to be an adventurous pair, have you ever gotten into trouble when you two were younger?

One time we were on a bus, trip across Canada, we were the only ones who decided to get off the bus with all of our things on it. I think we went to get french fries. He was 12, and I was 17 and our bus took off. He had to go into a mad sprint because all of our stuff was on the bus! It was on the highway! (Jinder: And I got it.) And he caught up to the bus and we got back on the bus!

(Jinder: One time, we broke our roof! When we were young we were jumping in the attic and we came flying through the roof!)

Well, he did.. But we were pretty good. I was the security guard, monitoring my parents. But not mischievous, well, I don’t know, depending on who you ask.

What is your everyday fashion style?

My favourite style is definitely a pair of jeans. I love boots because they feel comfortable. Maybe a cardigan. Something simple and classic. I like working with makeup, just doing a bold lip or dramatic eye but I love simple staples. Just tank tops and jeans. Because for events and shoots, we are always dressed up, like today! So it feels best to be fit, when you are working out and eating right, it feels sexy no matter what you are wearing.