Lately, sportswear brands have been gradually incorporating both fashion and sports functionality in their designs. Our very own local fashion scene has been flourishing and two 22 year-old fresh graduates saw a great opportunity to fill a gap in the market. We sat down with CEO, Ramy Abdelkareem, and Marketing Director, Nivert Rihan to talk all about the newest activewear brand in town, RAW, ahead of its launch.
Introduce yourself and tell us why you wanted to start your own business at such a young age?
Ramy: I recently graduated from university with an Economics degree. I started working at my family’s business where I learned all about different fabrics and production lines. I have always avoided any corporate job- having a nine-to-five job was never my thing. I always had that entrepreneurial spark within me. I also come from a long line of entrepreneurs- it’s a family thing!
Nivert: I also graduated a few months back from university, where I met Ramy, with a Business Administration Marketing degree. I actually always wanted to land a corporate job, which is kind of funny, because now I’m working on this startup with Ramy. I never wanted to take the risk of starting my own business. When he first came to me with the idea, though, I just had to get on board; I honestly thought it was very promising.
Why did you start to focus on women’s activewear?
Ramy: We both honestly saw a gap in the market. If you want to get good quality sportswear, especially women’s, you would have to pay a big sum of money, especially after the devaluation. I studied Economics and it’s all about supply and demand, and the demand for women’s sportswear is at an all-time high in Egypt. The local supply, however, is very limited.
Nivert: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is now the trend. Everyone is more active and more health-conscious and so when we saw this market gap, we had to come up with something that would fill it.
Describe your brand in four words!
Both: Empowering. Trendy. Innovative. Comfortable.
Who designs the products?
Ramy: I actually create the designs from A-Z. It took me three months in the factory to learn how to come up with functional designs, as well as some help from some of my friends who are either designers or athletes to validate my ideas.
Nivert: He’s always looking for inspiration. He scrolls through thousands of designs online and comes up with one designs that combine the best elements from all of them.
What differentiates your leggings and yoga pants from those available in the market?
Ramy: Our products are 100% locally produced. Also, the designs are very innovative, we have incorporated hidden pockets for your phones and keys in the leggings.
Nivert: The material of the leggings itself is very light on the skin so it will allow athletes maximum comfort.
What have been some of the obstacles you have faced while working on Raw?
Ramy: Being a perfectionist at heart, I always want each and every piece to come out perfectly and so it’s always a challenge to perfectly align everyone working in the production function in the same direction of thought and work.
Nivert: Timing is always a challenge as well. We have been wanting to launch for a while, but we had to take more time than we initially wanted to make everything seamless and produce top-notch products.
What are your future plans for Raw?
Ramy: We want to add more designs to our brand that will help female athletes perform better. We will work on producing sports bras and specialized tops alongside the leggings and yoga pants.
Nivert: Mass customization is definitely in our short-term plan. We want to work on designing sportswear for teams that would showcase their identity.
To check out all of Raw’s latest designs and releases, follow them on Instagram: @raw.eg