In the global fashion industry, it is not uncommon to have members of a family running a successful fashion business together, and a very good example is Bernard Arnault and his family who run the world’s largest luxury-goods company, LVMH.
Apart from the level of commitment and unified leadership that comes with running a family-owned fashion brand, an extra level of trust, versatility, and authenticity, also comes with it amongst other things. These advantages are what the Abdul Raouf sisters of Okhtein are leveraging to create a globally recognized fashion brand in Africa.
“We felt like we completed each other and we should pursue our dream and start a brand together”- Abdul Raouf sisters.
The Okhtein fashion brand which was coined from an Arabic word which means ‘sisters’ is owned by Egyptian siblings, Aya Abdul Raouf and Mounaz Abdul Raouf, who are both very passionate about art and design.
The fashion brand, since its inception in 2013, believes in designing statement pieces and utilizing the finest sustainable materials to last in any wardrobe. In doing this, the brand is setting new trends, promoting Egyptian artistry, as well as presenting new designs to the world. Their products have been worn by celebrities including Beyoncé, Olivia Culpo, Emma Stone, Emma Watson, and many others which caused a spike in the brand’s sales.
With products ranging from bag packs, belts, clutches, and many more which are produced through the hyperlocal manufacturing processes in Egypt, the Abdul Raouf sisters are bringing true luxury back to their home country. They are also proclaiming the inherent refinement of Egyptian artisanship.
How Was The Brand Born?
When the early fascination of luxury handbags meets passion and dedication, then a flourishing brand is born. The sisters from a young age have always wanted to wear unique bags that weren’t readily available in the market, so they decided to start designing their bags.
With Aya Abdul Raouf’s background in digital arts and design from the American University of Cairo, and Mounaz Abdul Raouf’s background in marketing, painting, and art from the same university, they have been able to use these different skills to capture certain moods and creativity in their products.
Inspiration For The Product Designs
Given their Egyptian roots, the creative inspiration for their designs stems from various things including observing various types of women, their neighbourhood, childhood interests, cartoons, Egypt’s rich culture and so much more.
Their first collection, Fatimid Façade, was purely inspired by the architecture of Old Cairo, hence the structural accuracy of the designs. And just like Mounaz Abdul Raouf shared,
“Inspiration is not restricted to one area. It is greatly affected by our mood, what trends are prevalent on the scene, and the various things we see on a daily basis.”
How Okhtein Is Helping African Communities
The fact that the business is thriving simply because their lines of bags and other accessories are produced in Egypt, according to the sisters, giving back to their community is an important part of the brand’s mission.
Since most of their products are handmade embroidery and leatherwork straw inclusive, they have been able to employ many artisans. In designing Okhtein‘s first collection, the founders worked with artisans who had inherited the talent of brass making, and since then brass making has always been an intricate part of the fashion brand.
In collaboration with several Non-Governmental Organizations, they have helped assist skilled female workers who have faced considerable hardship financially.
“For our Summer Capsule Collection, we worked with two different NGO’s that help support women who are the breadwinners of their families.” – Abdul Raouf sisters
It takes more than a high affinity for unique handmade pieces to build a successful brand just like the Abdul Raouf sisters have done. And utilizing the resources in their hometown, while empowering women at the same time makes it all the more remarkable.
The Okhtein brand is well on its way to becoming a strong contender in the global fashion industry.