Most modern woman know the struggle of dressing for the workplace, and trying to keep that balance between femininity and authority. Omnia Samra of the label OMNIA WOMENSWEAR is very familiar with that struggle having worked as a corporate stylist for several years. The following is a brief interview with Omnia about how she finds that balance and derives inspiration.
- At what age or point in your life did you develop the 'fashion bug'?
My mother has always been my inspiration. She is an amazing stylist; she is the best in mixing colors and patterns. She loves sewing; she used to sew her clothes and mine when I was a little kid and she taught me everything from sketching to using the sewing machine and I believe I have inherited this talent from her.
In addition, I have always loved to re-design my existing clothes especially evening wear (which unfortunately a lot of women wear once or twice). I like to change the designs of the dresses so that I can wear them differently several times. And I believe this is what made me focus on the idea of ‘less is more’ in my brand OMNIA, and promote it to my customers; the busy women who don’t have time to go shopping because of their active lifestyle.
- You did not initially start your career in fashion, studying political science and then working in corporate for years. At what point did you feel like you want to make the switch to fashion? Was there a specific turning point?
It all started in 2011 after I joined a large multinational organization as the youngest senior manager. My role was very critical at that time and I had to work very closely with the leadership team. It was challenging for me because of my young age at that time! One of my key objectives was to gain the management’s trust and make them believe in my capabilities and competences in order to be able to succeed.
Besides working hard towards my objectives, I started developing my personal brand. A major part of this was looking at my attire and my personal style, and I started reading about how personal image could play a role in achieving personal and professional goals, and the effect of a person's appearance on their professional image. This is where it all started! I changed my wardrobe to match my professional goals; I understood the messages each fashion style and color give and I dressed for each professional occasion accordingly...And it worked!
I decided to take this to a next level and I studied ‘fashion styling’ at London College of Fashion. Then I studied fashion design in Egypt and in London College of Fashion till I launched my brand OMNIA in June 2019.
- Your brand is all about making women feel beautiful and powerful in the workplace. How was shopping for professional attire like for you? What were your thoughts and struggles while shopping?
I have always enjoyed shopping for professional attire but it was difficult to find comfortable and trendy clothes yet elegant and professional ones that suit my busy lifestyle. I believe that the issue with professional attire is that they can only be worn at work, while most women nowadays are always on the go and have busy lifestyles; whether they have social activities after work, or mothers who have after school activities etc.
That’s the reason I create capsule collections for the busy woman who is looking for structured and edgy designs that reflect her personality yet are comfortable and easy to wear day and night to suit her busy lifestyle. The designs I create help women wear a few pieces in different ways by making very simple changes to the outfit.
- When did you decide to launch OMNIA Women’s Wear? And how long did it take you from first getting the though to the launch itself?
I decided to launch OMNIA in 2018 and it took me one year to establish my company and brand and launch it in June 2019.
- Were there any struggles you faced in creating the brand, whether in branding it or creating the pieces?
Any startup business requires a huge amount of efforts; especially if you are the only one responsible for managing everything. When you manage your business you work 24/7, you don’t have weekends and you basically walk with your laptop in order not to waste a minute!
My main challenge while starting my brand was in the manufacturing. I believe in quality over quantity and I like to produce clothes that are of a very high quality to ensure sustainability and durability. Finding highly skilled people to work with you in the manufacturing of the garment isn’t easy and requires a lot of quality control, though I believe that in Egypt we have highly skilled workers but they just lack guidance and good training.
Also, though the market has started to understand the importance of eco friendly fabrics and sustainability but it is still challenging to find sustainable fabrics in Egypt. I hope more fabric manufacturers in Egypt start to look at this and support designers like us in this initiative.
- How does it make you feel to see women wearing your clothes to work?
It is the BEST feeling ever. It makes me even happier to see women wearing OMNIA designs to work and also in a social gathering or at an after-school activity for their kids. This makes me feel that my brand has delivered its message and is really supporting and empowering women.
- Have you started planning your next collection? If you have, can you give us a hint or a sneak peek at it?
My Fall/Winter 2019-2020 collection is in the production phase and it will be launched by the beginning of November 2019. It’s a capsule collection that promotes sustainable fashion and the idea of ‘Less is More’. The collection includes a mix of structured and feminine designs that reflect both sides of the modern Egyptian woman.
- Where do you want to go with your brand? What are your goals for it?
I like to dream big! My goal is to grow into the regional and international markets. We have already seen a number of very talented Egyptian designers succeeding in the global market and it makes me feel proud to see their designs worn by prominent figures and celebrities.
I also aim to increase the awareness of fashion sustainability in Egypt through my brand and engage women and designers who support the same cause with me.