A Time off with 'Fashlink.com'

Hello there love bugs, 

Let us start by saying 'Let us face it!' a lot of us moved from the actual kicking and screaming and hunting the malls to virtual shopping at the comfort of our own homes. This recent phenomenon got our credit cards frying but our shopping satisfaction levels at a high! 

Yes, we hunt the latest finds at international shopping destinations like Bluefly, ASOS and Net-A-Porter but we must never neglect how the Middle East is picking up on this lucrative phenomenon. FashLink Middle East is one of our favorite trusted online destination for a quick shopping fix. They were around for quite sometime but their shopping portal is very recent and very impressive! we loved how they are focusing on supplying Middle Eastern brands on the site aside from the other international brands available.

We caught up with one of the founders of Fashlink Middle East to get to more about this ever-so-growing online store.   

Click on the link below to preview our interview with Payal ♡

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DSB: Tell us a little about yourself and your journey in the fashion industry.

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.

I then returned to Bahrain and worked full throttle on providing event, marketing and PR services to the Fashion Industry. I worked with the top retailers in the region, but again my passion was in the need to develop the industry’s fashion design talent.

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.

DSB: How was the concept of FashLink created? the story behind this wonderful entrepreneurial business and what made you start? 
Payal: FashLink.com as initially launched in January 2012 as an interactive digital catalog and showcases the latest fashion in retail stores across UAE. We found there was no real platform either to showcase the region of it’s own home grown talent and designers.

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.

DSB: As an online boutique, what are the brands that can be found on Fashlink?

Payal: We have a wonderful selection of regional designers including:
A.Nuami, Ash by Abir Achkar, Bas Huroof, CeeCode, Eclat, ElRetro, Fay Bijoux, Frontline Fashion, Fyunka, Haraka, Lavier, Mara Mostafa, Meena Rose, Miss Chatz, Neon Edge, Niesh, NimNim, Pieces by PF, PintSizedFashionista, Polka Dot Cat, Rocks & Ice, Saraya, Tamer Khalifa, The Ahli’s, Walla, Wayed Vintage, Yasi Couture.

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!

DSB: Whilst picking the brands for Fashlink, what inspires you when choosing your lines? how does the selection process go?

Payal: Everyone likes to be unique, so most of the pieces we offer at Fashlink.com are items that aren’t available at your regular malls. We love designers with a unique twist to their items, or designers who bring their Middle Eastern heritage to western designs. But we’re always open to new talent, whatever your design talent may be!

DSB: Future hopes and plans for Fashlink?

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!

DSB: Who are your favourite fashion designers? (Regional and International)

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.

DSB: What is a typical day for you at the Fashlink HQ?

Payal: I’ll start my mornings with my coffee and will read through my list of favorite international and regional fashion blogs. Throughout the day I’ll review potential new designers for Fashlink.com, and almost every day will touch base with some of our existing designers.

A few times a week I’ll assist in shoots in our studio, whether its product shots, or more creative campaign pieces and most evenings are spent attending events.

DSB: What has been the biggest business struggle you’ve faced so far as an entrepreneur?

Payal: Working with a new industry for the region, whether it be Fashion or E commerce. There are still many nuts and bolts that still have to come into place. On the plus side, you get to grow WITH the industry, and gain an in-depth insight into how the industry came to be and visualize its true potential.

DSB: What are your other hobbies and passion?

Payal: I love diving. And traveling FOR diving is my cherry on top.

DSB: Advice for young new entrepreneurs who want to enter the business of fashion?

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! 

Song of the day: I belong with you, you belong with me, You’re my sweetheart, Love we need it now, Let’s hope for some, so were bleeding now, Oh I belong with you, you belong with me You’re my sweetheart

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 24, 2013 and is filed under ,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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