The founder of charity KhanCan People’s Charity is a former model turned designer, celebrity stylist, make-up artist and events promoter.
The self-belief and easy charm exuded by Imran as he goes about his hectic schedule of a multifaceted career and charity fundraising is a far cry from the shy young man who first came to Bradford College. He explained, “I was dyslexic and I left school without qualifications and any confidence. I felt ashamed and frustrated. I came to College to study Maths, English Language and Literature. I was taught by Jean Holt who now runs my charity.” Imran joined a work scheme which placed him at a Citroen car showroom and sent him to study at College one day a week.
Imran became a model by accident. He recalled, “I drove a friend who was a model to a casting and while I waiting for her I was headhunted. There weren’t a lot of Asian male models back then.” He won a competition to model hair gel for L’Oreal and did a TV commercial for DFS. In addition to modelling he has done TV extra work on programmes including Shameless, Life on Mars, Blue Murder, No Angels and Coronation Street. Although officially quit modelling he is occasionally tempted by a lucrative assignment such as recent TV advertisement for Go Outdoors.
Imran continued, “I fell into modelling but stopped after the Pakistan Earthquake. I went there to help and saw all the devastation. When I got back I decided to devote as much time as I could to charity work and I launched Khancan People’s Charity in 2006. We rebuilt Gujakhan School in the village my mother is from in Pakistan and since 2008 over 200 children have been taught there. Education is very important and since there is no funding, we still support it. In am going to Pakistan in November 2014 to rebuild a hospital and help to feed the hungry.
Imran’s charitable initiatives are also directed towards communities in Bradford. He said, “We go to care homes and hospitals, giving presents to children and old people at Diwali, Eid and Christmas. Although I am a Muslim I respect all faiths and value everyone.” Imran also volunteers for the Youth Offending Team, mentoring young people and going around schools to talk to students. He wants to encourage young people to make the most of opportunities to help themselves and other people.
Imran did not abandon modelling altogether but decided to use the contacts and the skills he had to help others. In 2008 Imran set up a company with the aim of encouraging Asians and those from multi-cultural backgrounds under-represented in modelling, and from that he launched an events company to organise Bollywood/Lollywood fashion shows, bridal shows, and a bi-annual international make-up exhibition.
After making clothes for a friend’s wedding, demand was such that Imran developed his own IK Collections with his designs made up in Mumbai. His makeovers and blazers for men have proved popular with celebrities including Paul Daniels and artist John Mackie. The diversity of Imran’s appeal can be seen from current commissions to make jackets and style the Pakistani pop, bhangra and folk musician Abrar Ul Haq, and TV antiques expert David Harper. He advocates classic tailoring to men, including bespoke personalisation in crystals on the back if the client is brave enough. He has even customised his car in onyx and diamante to promote his brand at events when he goes to see clients.
Imran's career has been unconvential but thrives thanks to his energy, creativity and people skills. He is an example to young people that hard work and flexibility can overcome barriers to success and his concern for others less fortunate is commendable.