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The Style Guys pivot to promoting fashion and design with streaming show

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He’s got an amazing eye, impeccable taste and the gift of gab. So it seemed inevitable that Alykhan Velji would become an interior designer/fashion and design spokesperson — and a nationally renowned one at that.

“I’ve always had that creative bug in me,” says the ebullient 40-year-old, known as Aly to friends and clients, in a recent phone interview. “I grew up loving arts, arts and crafts and fashion.”

When he met his future husband on a Calgary dance floor 13 years ago, sparks immediately flew and soon they were partners in life and business. “Jason brings such different things to the table,” he says of Jason Krell, who forms the other half of The Style Guys (thestyleguys.ca), the powerhouse creative team that has made its mark on Calgary and Canada’s style and fashion industry. “He’s so well organized and knows how to hustle.”

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Still, when the pandemic hit in March 2020, the globe-trotting pair founded themselves unable to conduct business as usual.

“We were grounded like so many others,” says Krell, noting their regular TV segments dried up as newsroom resources were diverted to pandemic coverage. “So we had time to look into other opportunities.”

Their research led them to a new multibillion-dollar industry in China: live-streaming shopping. “We started learning about the ‘new shopping channel’ experience and how brands were using influencers to create interactive, live shopping events,” says Krell. “We knew we had to jump on it.”

To prepare for what Krell calls “old school TV shopping network meets the 21st century,” they spent the past year upgrading their a/v equipment, becoming familiar with live streaming shopping software and doing practise events. This past March, they hosted their first live shopping event on talkshoplive (talkshoplive.ca), the online social streaming platform that also features such famous names as Dolly Parton, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Matthew McConaughey.

“This is giving retailers a brand-new platform,” says Velji of the live streams in which viewers can interact with the presenters, ask questions and request close-ups of items. “We really wanted to focus on Canadian products.”

While some retailers and designers go directly online and sell live, The Style Guys’ approach is a little different. “We host the show,” says Krell, who has so far featured such local names as designer Kate Hewko and Megan Szanik of local boutique espy Experience, who authorize the two to help sell their wares (past shows can be seen on The Style Guys’ channel, at https://talkshop.live/search/thestyleguys). “A lot of people don’t want to go on camera by themselves.”

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The newest venture is hardly a departure from the pair’s energetic endeavours over the years. Velji has appeared on such well-known programs as The Marilyn Denis Show, HGTV’s Designer Superstar Challenge, and My Rona Home, where viewers know him as “the guru of décor.” Together, the team has also done regular stints on shows like E! Network’s Celebrity Style Story and Cosmopolitan TV’s Styleography show.

The two — famed in pre-pandemic days for their power dressing at events and parties — each brings unique talents and skills to the table. After graduating from Bow Valley College’s interior decoration program in 2003, Velji launched his business Aly Velji Designs. The native of Tanzania soon developed a reputation for his mixing of styles, textures and colours in innovative and often surprising ways.

His work has been featured in home and design magazines across the country and in 2016, he was short-listed for Western Living magazine’s Designer of the Year award. Velji has also designed his own line of rugs, as well as a furniture collection fashioned out of reclaimed wood. “My parents didn’t think a creative job would be fulfilling or pay the bills,” he says of mom Dilshad and dad Nazmu, who are now his biggest fans. “But, in time, they realized it was my dream. Following your passions is always good.”

Krell, a 45-year-old native of Medicine Hat, travelled the globe during his earlier modelling days, then went from working in graphic design to a degree in communications. Today, his business, Jason Krell Communications, assists lifestyle brands and corporate clients with their strategy.

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The two feel strongly that the time is perfect for this latest venture. “The pandemic has been gruelling for many people,” says Velji. “But I think it’s also made us think differently about where we live and what we wear, being more focused on what makes us happy, what we choose to surround ourselves with.”

Krell believes that in addition to the pandemic moving even more people online for their shopping and fashion needs and wants, it’s also given many a new perspective — a less-is-more attitude. “More people now want to buy the best they can afford, even something they can have an emotional attachment to. When they watch our shopping channel, they can learn more about the product, about the designer. It’s not fast fashion, it’s something of quality that has a story behind it.”

Velji also sees this as a way for them to support both local and national designers, many of them storefront businesses hit hard by lockdowns. “Designers can start making money again, growing their businesses.” Post-pandemic society, he says, will also see more people returning to fashion and style as part of their lives. “People are going to want to see and be seen.”

The next live show is slated for May 13 and can be viewed on: https://talkshop.live/streaming-content/7168?utm_source=channel&utm_medium=tsl&utm_campaign=thestyleguys.

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