Egypt’s non-public sector is main in retail in cities like Cairo, with girls like Aya and Mounaz Abdel Raouf on the helm…
One such luxurious style equipment model Ohktein, began by Egyptian sisters Aya and Mounaz Abdel Raouf, who opened their second and latest retailer in Capital Promenade Mall in Cairo this week- sure, even within the age of Covid, leaving many to marvel, how have they managed to do that? The duo sisters topped off their retailer opening with a after social gathering live performance headlined by Belgian band Oscar and the Wolf, surrounded by pals, household and those that can see the huge entrepreneurial modifications within the nation, and, who additionally need a piece of the pie too.
“Our new flagship retailer has our model’s id,” says Aya. “Whereas we did have a primary retailer, this tore, is what we actually contemplate our first retailer,” muses Mounaz. “It’s our child, it’s our dream and we labored actually exhausting for a yr and a half to make this occur,” shares Aya.
Ohktein is the Arabic phrase for “sisters,” and the duo siblings have strived to make the best purses and leather-based merchandise with the goal to redefine the posh style business. However, it’s actually a household run enterprise and so they couldn’t do it with out the assistance of their business-minded brother, Mohamed Abdel Raouf. They aren’t happy with simply making luxurious leather-based merchandise, they need to create merchandise that will probably be assertion items made with high notch merchandise present in Spain, the UAE, Italy and naturally Egypt- as a result of they’re assertion girls with distinct personalities which can be discovered of their merchandise.
The Abdel Raouf sisters have constructed a good luxurious model that they launched in 2014, the place they’ve put high quality Egyptian brass craftsmanship first. You additionally could not notice, however, Egyptians have all the time been gifted at brass craftsmanship. Aya and Mounaz design items that aren’t solely quintessentially Egyptian however they’ll outlast the take a look at of time, which is becoming in a yr when shoppers are shopping for bespoke and luxurious items, as they reduce on quick style.
They knew from their college age years that they had been going to enter a inventive enterprise collectively. “At first, we needed to do furnishings, and thought, properly, that’s a trouble. So, we stated style, though we didn’t examine it,” remembers Mounaz.
Remembering yesteryear Aya shares, “We knew it was going to be brass and leather-based from a day on the Khan el-Khalili souk right here in Cairo. We went for a day of inspiration to have a look at the artisans, to see what we may take away and we received so impressed. We noticed artisans taking items of brass and placing them right into a machine that molds the brass. We noticed this man reshaping a chunk of brass right into a cone for his lamp store and that was superb. That is what Egyptians are identified for right here and it goes again centuries. It’s often accomplished by fingers. Mounaz and I had been like wow and that was our ah-ha second, to recreate and modernize via equipment, luggage and jewellery.”
And from that Egypt’s most well-known equipment luxurious model was born. “On the time, somebody was telling me that Egypt has one of the best leather-based and that we export quite a lot of it,” says Aya of how leather-based got here into play of one of many model’s primary merchandise. “Egyptian hides are very strong- ‘however not completed,’ chimes in Mounaz. “We needed to make the most of the supplies we now have right here in Egypt and that’s how Okhtein was born,” says Aya.
The brand new assortment, “Re-connect” for the model has a sustainability mindset, as Aya and Mounoz has been aware to maintain their neighborhood and setting on the forefront of what they do. No new kinds had been launched, however relatively, they needed to create a distinction of the problem that has been introduced ahead within the age of Covid, with disconnection and the hopelessness the world is dealing with. With nature because the inspiration, the duo has revisited Okhtein classics, with natural buildings and earthy colours, that are sensible and useful. “We had been impressed by nature. We’re actually trying ahead to pre-fall 21,” says Mounaz. “We’re going to concentrate on pre-fall collections as a result of equipment want time. Our model is gradual and our items are designed to be timeless, so we’ve determined to showcase twice a yr solely.”
The design of the shop was properly thought out with its design, taking the cultural values, data and character of Aya and Mounaz, but additionally weaving the sisters collectively to create an area the place clients will see an area that’s daring however but intricate. “Our emblem is brass with one arrow going left and one going proper, but on the identical time they’re each linked,” shares Aya. “Whenever you enter the shop, the promenade is break up between two shelving items, one which displays the opposite,” says Mounaz.
“The toughest half was discovering an architect to translate our imaginative and prescient, who may translate our two characters right into a retail experiences, in addition to the journey of us, two sisters, and Walid did this,” beams Aya. Beirut-based firm WZ Architects accomplished the design beneath lead designer Walid Zeidan. Two primary directional strains information the triangular volumes of their new retailer, forming a dynamic gallery of types for purchasers to find the assorted merchandise and their evolution.
Purposely, the principle store window has been changed by a spatial discovery that draws new clients and attracts them right into a journey, with a entrance glass façade that attracts out the simplicity of the enclosure.
The brand new retailer got here with the numerous hours of sitting on the desk, honing their craft, getting mentorship from the Egyptian department of the European Financial institution for Reconstruction and Growth (EBRD), and from their advertising counsel Maison Pyramid.
“EBRD had us meet with a consulting agency, which guided us in the direction of not simply specializing in on-line however retail,” shared Aya. EBRD is spearheading SME tasks within the Center East and selecting up the place the governments, particularly Egypt, is focusing extra so on infrastructure tasks.
“We began with a tailor-made resolution for Okhtein,” says Reem El Saaday, the Regional Principal Manger Recommendation for Small Companies, Egypt. “We sat down with the sisters to try to perceive the issues in order that collectively we may id the primary space of intervention.”
“We had been getting extra success from retail than on-line and EBRD and our guide inspired us to spend money on retail in Egypt. That is when our brother Mohamed jumped in and switched every part round for us, and shifted how we noticed issues,” says Mounaz. “Aya and I are creatives, he’s the enterprise aspect.”
“What our hassle did was prepare our workers and create a retail guide, which is able to work if we determine to open one other retailer,” chimed in Aya. “Due to the assistance of EBRD and our brother, the final yr and a half of our enterprise has been completely completely different,” says Aya.
The duo sisters have accomplished properly for themselves. Not solely are their merchandise based mostly in Egypt, they’re promoting in retailers across the globe from Bloomingdale’s within the UAE, Harvey Nichols Riyadh, Saks Bahrain, Harrods, Browns, and Les Suites Paris- and influential girls from Gigi Hadid and Kourtney Kardashian have been seen sporting their custom-made purses.
All that is coming off of a optimistic retail increase in Egypt. Egypt isn’t new to retail. They’ve all the time been a retail pleasant nation but it surely’s on-line shopping for that has began booming within the final a number of years. “Egyptians have belief points with what they see on-line,” the sisters share. “They usually favor shopping for in particular person,” stresses Aya. “It’s a must to actually set up your self available in the market for shoppers to belief and purchase your product on-line. We too needed to earn the belief of shoppers after we began on-line 5 years in the past. We had been featured in quite a lot of articles on-line however we paved the best way for eCommerce in Egypt. We had been the primary model to correctly spend money on the eCommerce house.”
However clearly the sisters are doing one thing proper. Okhtein is considered one of Egypt’s high equipment manufacturers. Maintain their priorities straight they’ve been capable of information their child on a path that’s working to this point. Artwork would be the focus of the model for 2021. “This was the aim of our launch social gathering and we need to do extra of those “Okhtein nights,” the place we now have occasions that individuals get a detailed connection to the brand- the place they get to see the method of how our merchandise are made and so they get to have a detailed connection to fulfill us and our brother, Mohamed. Because of this we partnered with Enterprise Way of life as properly. The legacy that Aya and Mounaz need to depart is a model that has timeless items, that’s about artwork, the place clients and pals of the model are capable of see what’s occurring and have a relationship with the duo. It’s not about churning out collections a number of instances a yr, Okhtein is a model of considered one of a form items, artwork, and personability to the designers. You shouldn’t anticipate something much less within the years to come back.
Go to Okhtein’s website