Afew years ago, we would be running to our tailors in the hope that they would stitch our clothes and give them back in time. Now-a-days, the trend is focusing on ready to wear clothes along with so many options; no one has the time or wants to go to the tailor when you can buy yourself something smart and that too at an affordable price.
Aalia Jafar heads SHEEP(tm) - a women's wear brand that has fast established itself as the premium pret wear label serving the Pakistani woman that value quality. Aalia, a graduate from Southeastern University, was the textiles sourcing and brand Manager for DuPont Textiles & Interiors that included brands like LYCRA(r), COOLMAX(r), LEATHER WITH LYCRA(r) to name a few. During her time with DuPont, she also initiated the concept of fashion trade shows that showcased innovation and new product development in yarn and fabrics from Pakistan to foreign buyers, buying agencies and garment exporters. Aalia, also a very strong supporter of working women, was the leader of DuPont Women's Network and founder of the forum DIA - collaboration between DuPont, Shell, Unilever and ICI. This week You! talks to Aalia about her brand and her journey to success...
You! How did you enter the fashion industry?
Aalia: We found that there were very few brands at the time that were catering to the needs of working women who didn't have the time to go to their tailors. The brands in the market were either catering to lower end products or extremely high priced garments, leaving a vacuum for quality wear at affordable prices. It is after a lot of research that we decided to enter the field of ready to wear retail.
You! What was the motivation behind opening a ready to wear retail store?
A: SHEEP(tm) started at a time when there was a void in affordable ready to wear clothes in the market. We wanted to give customers options as well as something different in terms of cuts, quality, prices and designs.
You! Tell us a little about your brand and how has the journey been so far?
A: Our mission is to provide the urban women with elegant and quality garments at affordable prices that have the look and feel of high end garments. It has been one of the most exciting and exhilarating things we have done - from sourcing to procurement to getting the right team on board. It has definitely been quite the journey in terms of putting things into place.
You! What is your design philosophy? What differentiates your brand from other retails brand in the market?
A: The brand personality, the retail experience and the product are seamlessly tied by a single philosophy; uncomplicated! Our colour palette is what makes us stand out along with our cuts and styling. Our focus is on simplicity.
You! How hard is it to maintain your signature style and quality and be affordable at the same time?
A: Our biggest challenge is managing the product costing - most of the time gorgeous designs get rejected because the cost is too much and that is very painful to see. We do have different price ranges that give our customers a wide range of choices and options.
You! Tell us a bit about your upcoming collection?
A: Our current collection is very subtle. The colours are inspired by pantone palette with variation of subtle tones. The silhouette we have used consist of a lot of drapery, bias cuts, cowls, and straight cuts for which the body fabric we have used include butter linen, chicken, chiffon and burn out. Our upcoming collection will be the fall collection. The focus will be on cuts and colour blocking with soft earthy shades.
You! What is something you've learned the hard way in the fashion market?
A: You can't please everyone. People have different tastes and thoughts about how a design should be put together. We are constantly incorporating what our customers have to say based on their feedback. We have learnt to listen to our customers.
You! What's your biggest accomplishment to-date?
A: We started out with one store on Zamzama in 2010 and now in 2012 we have 3 locations in Karachi including Dolmen Mall Clifton and Tariq Road. It has allowed us to reach out to a much larger market as well as make it convenient for our customers to shop not only at our various locations but through our cash on delivery service, which is available nationwide.
You! What are the challenges that Pakistani women today face?
A: Being able to juggle family and work commitments. It is very difficult to find a balance between the two. The women in Pakistan do not appreciate their potential, even when they are empowered they do not know what to do with it. One book everyone should read is 'Roma' by Steven Saylor - the novel of ancient Rome.
You! What do you think are the main ingredients or traits essential to attain success?
A: You have to be focused. Goals/targets need to be set in order to provide direction and success respectively.
You! What are the positive points of being economically independent?
A: You have the freedom to do anything you want, be it buying a piece of jewellery or being able to go out for coffee/dinner. The decision lies with you and no one can dictate what you can and cannot do. There are no limitations. Being economically independent is also correlated to your self-esteem and gives you a lot of confidence.
You! What may be the negative points of being empowered?
A: With empowerment comes a lot of responsibility.
You! Your philosophy of life:
A: We only get one life and it shouldn't be taken for granted. In the time that you have, you must try to be the best in whatever role you have to play, be it a daughter, wife, mother, entrepreneur, or colleague. Always strive to do and be your best.
You! What is one cosmetic you cannot do without?
Aalia: Blush on
You! When stepping out, do you wear makeup all the time?
A: Mostly, yes.
You! When it comes to cosmetics, which brand you usually use?
You! Your make-up bag consists of...
A: Different shades of
You! Do you go to salon regularly for your facials?
A: No, I don’t
You! Your favourite local stylist or beautician
A: Maha Burney and Shammal Qureshi
You! Your favourite international stylist or beautician
A: Rachel Zoe
You! Your preferred spa or salon
A: Blow and Rukaiya’s
You! Your favourite perfume
A: Hermes, Kelly Caleche
You! Your beauty regimen
A: Well, I don’t have any special beauty regimen. I just make sure to take care of my diet and drink lots of water. Beauty corner:Beauty corner: