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Payal: I’ve always been passionate about the “Business of Fashion” and when working in New York, I was fascinated with all the emerging designers and independent labels I would come across when browsing Soho boutiques. In the months ahead, I was exposed to New York Fashion Week which reminded me of my true passion - developing and nurturing Bahrain’s talents.
When I reminisced on my NYC experiences that there was no ‘Fashion Week’ or in fact a Bahrain ‘fashion industry’. This brought about my vision to create the very first Bahrain Fashion Week. Since then we have conducted 3 very successful fashion weeks which were held at both the Moda Mall in the WTC as well as the Bahrain Exhibition Center. We’re looking to conduct the next very soon, as well as some pop up shops and other fashion events.
On the side I really enjoyed mentoring young designers in the know how of the business and how to develop a label and how to market their brands. I had worked with a support a program to ‘empower women’ through a ‘tailoring scheme’ . This initiative as created to push unemployed Bahraini women with an interest in Fashion, to create their own home fashion businesses.
Otherwise we merged with UK brand Fashionaires, which brought together fashion designers, photographers, stylists, models, make up artists, and hair stylists. The events and activities were structured in order to give them all opportunities to expand their creative abilities and skill sets and work together voluntarily and learn from each other's fields of expertise. We brought over the London team to expand on the knowledge of the Middle East chapter and exchange creative ideas across the two regions. The Bahrain and London team worked on several successful collaborative projects.
During the last couple of years, I noticed that there was a lack of buyers for the fashion designers in the region. Big department stores rarely purchased from new talent, and there were very few boutiques that could take on these designers. There was a real need to provide a selling platform from which designers can sell from without having to pay for retail space and other overheads. Thus Fashlink.com was born; an online fashion e-commerce site that caters to emerging talent in the region and independent fashion labels. Fashlink.com now successfully houses Bahraini designers amongst their fashion offering and delivers to customers around the Middle East – and worldwide.
Throughout the first 6 months that we started, we had a real demand to sell these items online from regional designers, and sell other items that were unique and not available in your next-door mall.
Online is still new to the region, but in the summer of 2012 we decided to take the leap and build on the confidence of potential online fashion buyers. Over the last 6 months we have built an extensive portfolio of products to offer our online shoppers.
We will be expanding this year into fast-fashion items, and unique or independent labels that aren’t available in the region that we can see a demand for.
|Some of our purchases from the site included a Rachel Roy poncho, a stunning Wayed vintage earring and the first copy of Front Row Mode magazine!|
Payal: Fashlink’s vision is to provide a complete and unique Fashion & Beauty online store with an unparalleled selection and of fashion products ranging from high street and luxury, to regional designers and our own brand products – all under one virtual roof. And we have some fabulous interactive features that we are developing to make your online shopping experience more fun!
Payal: Regionally, I love Razan Al Azzouni. Her collections define femininity to perfection, so whimsical and playful. Definitely one that the world has to look out for.
Internationally for me it has to be Dolce & Gabbana. Whether it’s a mix of colours, prints or textures, every season they are the major trend leaders. They do know perfectly well how to play off each other to stunning effect.
I’m a huge accessories junkie, so I love accessory designers as well. Mawi and Dannijo to name a few.
Payal: Passion drives success, so only dabble in a business that you’re TRULY passionate about. As it will be long hours, hard work, a few disappointments along the way and many other pitfalls. But if you have the passion for it, you’ll never lose the drive, and eventually reap the rewards!