For Nadia Norzuhdy, her journey in the fashion industry has been one big learning experience. She started off as a marketing executive at e-commerce site FashionValet three years ago and is now the general manager of the company.

Overseeing a large retail business – especially one such as FashionValet – is no easy task. As such, Nadia’s quick ascend up the corporate ladder says a lot about her skills and ability.

The 31-year-old is known for having a cheerful, can-do attitude, plus a bold sense of style. You can say these traits have also helped her when working in the fashion industry.

“In my current position, I get to see from a bird’s eye view the inner workings of the company and how the bolts and screws fit into the bigger picture,” says Nadia on her job.

Managing her staff and getting them challenged or motivated are the things she enjoys very much. But being in charge has taught her why bosses often act in a certain way.

Nadia Norzuhdy

Nadia Norzuhdy often recognised for her unique style, with the oversized turban being her signature look. Photo: The Star/Art Chen

“Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and remember that I have something to say to a team member. Now I know the reason for my bosses texting me at night in the past,” she states.

As it is, FashionValet is dominating the fashion retail market in Malaysia and surrounding region. Operating more on an e-commerce platform, it gathers home-grown designers under one roof.

Starting out with a capital of RM100,000 in 2010, the company has grown to include over 400 designers on its website, selling fashion apparel including shoes and accessories.

Nadia says that the success is to do with the brands her company carries. She is extremely proud of being able to say that she is wearing a local designer’s piece anytime she is asked about her outfit.

“Our brands are producing apparel that is on par with, if not better than, the international high-street brands. And because we ship internationally, these local brands can now enter the global playing field.”

FashionValet is targeting the modest fashion scene next, setting its sights on the Middle East. It is also adding more brick-and-mortar stores in accessible neighbourhoods within Malaysia.

On working with the husband and wife founders of the company, Datin Vivy Yusof and Datuk Fadzaruddin Shah Anuar, Nadia says that they are the best mentors she could ever have in the industry.

“I’m not just saying this because they pay my salary! They come with a lot of experience having built this platform from the ground up,” she adds.

“Fadza is like a strong anchor during choppy tides, allowing us to be bold with our ideas, but holding us down in the right direction. And Vivy is so hands-on, she thrives on creative brainstorm sessions and always comes with a slew of ideas.”

Vivy is the poster child for FashionValet. With an unerring taste in style, she is a social celebrity in her own right, boasting more than 1.6 million followers on Instagram.

Drive To Succeed, Killer Style

Nadia is carving a niche out for herself style-wise as well. She is widely recognised for sporting her signature “turbow” (turban-bow) headgear in bright colours.

“Colours you wear can affect your mood. Sometimes my outfit enters the room even before I do and people can spot me even at a mile away,” she jokes, when asked about her unique fashion sense.

“In my position, I definitely want to exude an air of breeziness. But during formal meetings or when I have to deliver a hard message, you’ll see me in darker colours and more structured silhouettes.”

According to Nadia, her career so far would be best described as a “roller coaster ride with its ups and downs, dips and topsy-turvy turns”. Yet, she is still enjoying the experience.

Not being afraid of challenges is probably why she has made it this far. She always looks at the positive side of each situation too, and is ever the optimist even in the face of setbacks and failures.

“When tasked with something I will always say yes first, before assessing whether or not I can actually deliver. If I do, it’s a personal achievement and I celebrate. If I don’t, I’ll come out of it better seasoned.”

Nadia was born in Perak but grew up in Kuala Lumpur, Moscow and New York. Upon completing her degree in economics she first joined a content producing company in Malaysia, before joining FashionValet.

When asked about her advice to women who want to make a career in fashion retail, Nadia says it is all about learning to read data and study your customer demographics.

“Believe in the power of big data because that will be the foundation on all the decisions you’ll be making in whatever subset of the fashion retail industry you choose in the future,” she explains.

“I would advise them to treat any business or company they are attached to as their own. Just because you are not an entrepreneur does not mean you cannot chart your path in the company as if you have a stake in it too.”

Nadia thinks that a person has to always be proactive and do what needs to be done to realise their dreams. She does not believe in being a “role model” as well.

“It is such a heavy label to carry. It paints a picture that the person is without flaws or does not make mistakes. Whereas I am someone who openly admits to my mistakes, and almost shamelessly calls out my flaws.

“In business, every day is a learning process. I am forever an optimist, believing that everybody is striving towards being a better version of themselves, and in that – everyone should be their own role models.”