Are you a fan of online shopping? This young entrepreneur didn’t only make it easy for us, but she also took Egyptian designs global. Want to know how? Meet the founder of Authentique, Nada Marzouk. Nada’s technological background helped her find a niche in the Canadian market and establish her own online concept store selling original Egyptian designs. Her website has a solution to the age-old issue of getting the ‘right fit’ when shopping for clothes online.
Nada, Tell us about yourself and the story behind Authentique.
I am a recent master’s graduate of Digital Media at Ryerson University in Toronto. I am humbled and excited to share my story with the Daily Crisp. What started as an idea to create a platform combining the passion I have for, both, fashion and technology has now changed into reality.
What made you think of introducing local brands abroad and why the Canadian market?
After growing up my whole life in Canada, working in Egypt was the best decision I ever made. During my time in Egypt, I was exposed to so many upcoming local Egyptian fashion designers. When I would go back to Canada, I used to receive endless compliments on my hand-made Egyptian pieces, so that was when I started to consider how I could bring a taste of Egypt to Canada. I feel like a lot of designers are not represented properly, and being a part of a lot of start-ups in the past I want to empower local Egyptian and Canadian designers who don’t have the financial capability of selling online and eliminate returns for both buyers and sellers.
What was your marketing strategy to access the foreign market as a local brand?
Being a part of the Fashion Zone at Ryerson University, Canada’s first incubator of fashion- inspired business, allowed me to really place my platform perfectly within the Canadian market. I really had to put myself out there attending a lot of networking events happening around the community, to make myself and my idea more familiar.
What are the different ways that you sought to place your product abroad?
I’ve experienced (as I’m sure most girls do) a problem with the “right fit” while online shopping. The hassle of always having to return something because it doesn’t fit your body shape or not being able to see the quality in advance.The virtual reality technology allows customers to see a simulated version of themselves that considers their body shape, size and weight. Which makes the experience more personable and inclusive, who wouldn’t want to save money and visualize the product in 3D before buying it! In a nutshell, I see a lot of value in creating convenience for Egyptian and Canadian shoppers.
On what basis do you choose the designs, styles and fabrics to be appealing in the foreign market?
Each and every designer is carefully selected, the main goal is to select designers that can add to your wardrobe unique pieces that you will cherish for years to come. Fashion is usually an evolving and changing process, but with Authentique we want you to purchase something that will stay authentic in its look and feel after years of purchase.
What are the challenges that you faced while you were bringing your idea to life?
I mostly had challenges with finding the right technological solution that will best serve my idea, so I started researching and approaching many leading retail tech businesses that are focusing on this type of solution until I finally partnered with Virtual Outfits, based in Los Angeles.
How did your study influence your business development?
The Digital Media Program at Ryerson really brought out the entrepreneur within me. I was able to grow and collaborate within the digital space with a lot of creative people. The program encompassed a lot of technical courses such as Programming, Entrepreneurship, Augmented & Virtual Reality and Interactive Media which allowed me to explore the horizon of endless digital possibilities, integrate my business background with my study as well as unleash my creative side. I am a strong believer that the digital influence today is reshaping marketing and how businesses operate so this program was perfect for me.
As a young entrepreneur, give advice to people your age who want to start their own business?
If you have an idea that you’re passionate about, do your research and let it take its time to flourish. It will require lots of patience and persistence from one side and lots of diligence and agility from another side. My supervisor and mentor, Sean Wise, always told me; find your unmet market need and the “Secret Sauce” to your identified problem. And I guess that has been working well for me so far. Also having a supportive team is important. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the designers and their tireless work.
We heard you’re participating in Vancouver Fashion Week. Tell us about that.
We are excited to announce that we are heading to Vancouver Fashion Week this fall for the very first time! We will be showing our new collections in the Designer Showroom from September 21st- 23rd. We will also be showcasing our 3D Virtual fitting room for people to try out. The 5 Egyptian Brands that will be available at the Pop-Up are Alicia Arts, Camicie, Farah Wagdy, Ramla & Sadafa.
We’re very excited about seeing Egyptian designers go international and participating in Vancouver Fashion Week. Stay tuned to see a live coverage from there on TDC Instagram stories!