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Interviews: Saman Arif of Nayna
How would you introduce yourself to our readers?
Nayna is a privately owned company that designs, manufactures, and markets
traditional Eastern fashion for the contemporary woman. Nayna's Collection,
showcasing Bridal Wear, Formal Wear, Casual and Office Wear has tapped into
the wealth of rich Pakistani fabrics and employed the skill of experienced Lahori
craftsmen for the production of its hand embroidered and intricately detailed
products. Nayna's product line is based on the creative expression and
aesthetic ability of designer Saman Arif it reflects the interrelation between
superior quality and distinct designs.
I have always had a passion and interest for designing, and I started around
12 years ago when I designed some wedding outfits for my relatives. I started
off very low key, and in fact had all my workers at home at the time. I graduated
4th from Pakistan School of Fashion Design (PSFD) in 2000. I also teach at PSFD
and jury many of the school projects which has enabled me to keep in touch
with new ideas and talent in the industry.
I have worked with big names such as Miraas and Nicki n Nina in the past, and
have found the experience to be exhilarating and self fulfilling. However, like
all good jobs, there is nothing like owning your own business. Although the
stress is much more having your own business no matter what industry it may
be, has its perks. As I already did a bit of work out of home, there was always
the vision that someday I would want to start my own label and try and establish
Nayna actually means what you see through the eyes. It took us 4 weeks to develop this name as my partner insisted that we not work on a personal name and that there should be some meaning to whatever name we choose. We must have gone through around 350 possible names for the company, of which this stood out the most when we did market research for it.
Nayna is an established brand name catering to the medium and upper classes,
both locally and internationally. We manufacture more ethnic wear than anything
else however, our ready to wear line has some western touches engraved in it.
Our bridals start from PKR 150,000 onwards, which in this day and age for this
market, is very competitive. In fact, our competitors are starting at almost
double this price, but we feel that we are want to not only cater to the high
end client, but also to the medium income categories as there are more volumes
in this niche versus the former. Our clients are all around the world, mainly
from the US, UK, Dubai and of course locally. We have recently partnered up
with a very high profile individual in London to look after our interests, and
soon will be hitting the US for franchises and wholesaling. In 2007, we were
primarily focused on our back end and ensuring deliveries in times of high capacity
however, for 2008 the focus is now on international expansion and branding.
A.I think that the real success factor at Nayna has been our ability to treat this as a corporate business rather than just a store. We have a very lean and focused hierarchy at Nayna. I look after the clients, design work and production and my partner Arif, who is an MBA and BSc. from LUMS (Pakistan's premier business institution), looks after the business and marketing areas. This has enabled us to focus on the core business functions as well as our clients. By combining my expertise with Arif's, we have been able to project Nayna as an extremely lean and professional organization.
In addition to this, we pride ourselves on being the first to do many new and innovative things at Nayna. We are the only designers to have an online production system which enables customers to logon to our website and check where their outfits are in the production process. We are the only organization to have a very comprehensive customer services module that enables us to be in touch with customers and ensure that the services we provide are nothing but the best. We are the only organization to work with megabrands such as Dior, Tag Heuer and Fendi watches for shows. So, while everyone else out there is busy trying to project what good quality clothes they make we feel that quality is the innate responsibility of the organization. The real value comes from doing innovative things that benefit the customer in the long run.
In my experience, reaching to the top is not as big of a challenge as maintaining
yourself. Consistency is the name of the game, and thus far we have been able
to provide a consistent experience time in and time out.
We in fact do not have an outlet in the UK, due to the fact that there are
too many distanced places and not enough stores that could cover all of England!
Instead, we have appointed a franchise in London, and are in the process of
appointing a few more organizations/individuals around the UK in order for us
to be able to spread our wings even further. The UK is a very diverse market,
essentially all Pakistani people look for fashionable and wearable clothes.
However, this market is tougher as they are not in touch with most of the current
fashions, and also tend to be a lot more conservative in their approach to fashion.
On the whole, clothes that look good and feel good always are on top of the
list of best sellers. Since our forte is very delicate and intricate embroidery
on a well cut outfit, it is sometimes difficult for people to picture the end
result. Nonetheless, the response has been phenomenal so far.
Up until now, we have not really focused on hitting international markets because
of the simple reason that we could not cope with the Lahori demand. This year,
we have now set our eyes on attending and participating in international shows,
so we should have more on this for our readers next time!
Arif has always had the opinion that we should give back what God has given to us. I am sure you are all aware of the poverty in Pakistan, and unfortunately over the years things have become worse. With that said, we decided to team up with the UNWFP (United Nations World Food Program) to work on some developmental projects. In 2006, we did some awareness programs for them through our fashion shows. Arif believes that we should always do something new, and that is perhaps the reason why our organization is a creative and dynamic one. In this regard, we managed to land a deal with LVMH Pakistan to do a show in Lahore. In fact, the show deal came before the UNWFP deal. Since we already had a show happening, we felt it would be a good opportunity for the UN to project their image and cause as well. We invited the UN delegates to present to our audience the facts, figures and challenges faced in our country. It was a truly disheartening experience to hear about all the hardships facing this nation.
This year, we intend to launch a Train the Trainers Program, which entails
bringing less fortunate ladies from the underdeveloped and earthquake stricken
areas of the country to our workshops. We plan to train them in the art of embroidery,
and let them go back and train more people. The only challenge we face in all
of this, is to create the demand for these women to go back and ensure that
they have work that will compensate them. There's no point in training
them if we cannot generate orders for them as well. Unfortunately, this is perhaps
the biggest hurdle in our campaign.
Due to the security situation in the country, our board has decided to relocate
all marketing operations to the UK. This will allow us to target Europe as well
as the United States. In addition to this, we will be able to cater to a larger
base of clientele who are more quality conscious and less price conscious which
is what we sell. We plan to capitalize on that and then move to the US. We are
in the process of negotiating wholesale and franchise deals in New York and
Detroit, and are constantly on the look out for new partners. In the next ten
years, we plan to become a group of companies with a global representation.
Well, fashion is a business now, and it's becoming tougher to stay ahead of the competition. It's not easy no one person can take the credit because it's a team effort. This work involves reputation and A LOT of hard work. It's a day and night profession, and a deadline is a DEADLINE!!! It's fun at the same time as all professions are but the glamour is not that easy to earn, it take its time. It's not about being an overnight sensation, but maintaining that overnight success.
Posted on Sat Nov 08, 2008 4:04 am by Admin Sat Nov 08, 2008 4:04 am