With an aim to preserve the transparency of creative thought and expression while mounting the realm of possibility, Zeina and Yusra Adra, two young and emerging fashion entrepreneurs, launched their own fashion brand “Orange Blossom”. They say it is inspired by their love for nature and life.
Since Zeina, the founder, has a reputable background in interior design and specializes in working with fabrics and patterns, she expressed her need to work with fabrics to recreate the abaya from a typical prototype to one that fits the modern and trendy life. Because the first prototype caught a lot of interest, Yusra, the cofounder with an MBA in Finance, found the opportunity to evolve the first ‘blossom’ into an orchard of Orange Blossom abayas.
Both of them are passionate and determined, with an imagination that is so vast that each of their collections comes as a complete surprise. Arab News caught up with Zeina to talk fashion and get an inside scoop on their working styles.
Tell us about your collections. What all do you create?
Our unique selling point is that we liberate the abaya choices for women at affordable prices. In the past three years the rate of women in Jeddah entering the workforce witnessed radical growth and we were a part of this phase. So in parallel to portray a professional, comfortable and lively image to our daily routine, we created the Blossom abaya. We created a concept of “building your own abaya”, where clients are given the opportunity to choose from a variety of 10-12 categories and mix and match their preferred colors and patterns and moreover, their comfort accessories like zipper, pockets, etc. Meanwhile, a lot of clients, on the other hand, prefer that we make the selections for them and produce a line of ready to wear abayas where some are from the available categories and some are exclusive either by using high-end fabrics or are a test trial for a new category. In other words, we did not create the need for an abaya, it will always be there; however, we recreated the traditional process of purchasing an abaya to one that voices and liberates our generation of modern, practical and independent women.
What sparked your interest in fashion and take it more seriously and make a career out of it?
It started from a personal need to influence my daily mood and express my appreciation and passion for fabrics and colors. From there, my interest really escalated and expressed a lot of women’s needs and it turned out to be a prosperous business.
Being a fashion designer in Saudi Arabia is a bit challenging. But at the same time it can often be portrayed as being glamorous. However, when you were just starting your business on your own, creating your designs, trying to make sales, trying to contact prospective new clients/partnerships, etc., how did you motivate yourself during this time?
My motivation has always been my customers and their appreciation toward our hard work is enough incentive to keep us and the brand going.
However, being an expat and to open a flagship store is challenging. Likewise, to comply with customer care standards and to find qualified legal manpower that are consistent with quality and delivery time is very hard. Since, Jeddah’s market is very diverse and therefore each culture has a different expectation, it is very challenging to cater to all.
Who are some of your biggest style influences?
It varies from season to season. This season is Kenzo, last season it was Alexander McQueen. The variation is based on the colors and the cut, which can fit to influence and inspire our abaya designs.
Your abaya collection intrigued me, how would you describe your design aesthetic and what do you think about the different styles of abayas that are emerging these days?
The jewel in our design is the designer’s aspiration to bring in the change and the creativity and most importantly to state and to reflect the customer touch.
Each style these days represents the designer behind it. Most have a unique touch to their designs, whereas some may be repetitive while others still stand out.
What makes ‘Orange Blossom’ clothes different from that of other fashion designers?
Our fabric quality, range of colors and patterns are unique. It goes without saying our prices are competitive to meet all ranges. I feel we have created a distinct signature style that makes us different from others. Also, our continuity to adapt to the dynamic changes in trends and fashion is what kept us as one of the fastest growing brands in the region.
How do you market your business? Do you use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc., to promote your business? How successful has it been for you?
Jeddah market relies mainly on the two most effective modes of marketing, Instagram and word of mouth. Instagram has been a great source for us to communicate directly to our customers and it is a very effective marketing measure that has a great impact on our sales growth as well.
What projects are you currently undertaking and where do you see yourself in the future?
Our current project is to expand our brand to regional markets such as the UAE, Qatar, Lebanon, and Kuwait. At present, we are launching our brand on Haute Elan, an online platform for modest fashion based in London that will also introduce us to international markets and clientele.
What advice would you give to young designers who are thinking of starting their own business?
When you dream big, don’t expect to fail. Ambitious, hard work and perseverance will always pay off. Although the market may seem competitive at first, it is just setting the first solid stepping stone and then the world will be your oyster. Since the Middle East has different cultures and customs, we should use that as an advantage to create and recreate our traditions such that it revives and complements both the Arab and Western vision.