Ola Farahat has been interested in fashion and style for as long as she can remember. In fact, one of her earliest memories comes at the age of five, when she would spend hours dressing up her various dolls. While most of us are familiar with that childhood pastime, Farahat’s interest would later transcend play to develop into a serious career.
Farahat, formerly a strategy consultant , watched her followers grow rapidly every time she posted an “Outfit of the Day” photo on Instagram. This sort of real-time response to her well-curated aesthetic prompted her to take her personal style seriously as a business. As brands pursued her for collaborative marketing efforts, Farahat’s confidence in her personal brand grew.
In an exclusive interview with Savoir Flair, we asked her how she perceived her role in the region’s growing fashion industry. She explains, “Honestly speaking, I see myself as someone who wants to add value to the fashion industry, especially here in the Middle East, in terms of helping women find their own unique style and being true to it.” Farahat knows a thing or two about finding one’s unique style. Her advice for discovering this side of yourself is straightforward; “Style shouldn’t look the same across the board. The next “It” bag or “It” shoe doesn’t need to be a staple in everyone’s wardrobe. Individuality is key when you are creating your own style. This is when you begin to get noticed – when you master your own individual style.”
The outgrowth of Farahat’s immense popularity and success with brand partnerships has taken new form. This year saw the re-launch of OwnTheLooks.com, an online retail platform that takes a three-pronged approach to cultivating its consumer’s style. Not only does it carefully select the designers that it features, but it also showcases them on influencers – like Farahat – and allows for the consumer to be styled by them. Farahat describes the site, saying, “OwnTheLooks.com is not your traditional shopping website. It all started when girls began to ask me where my outfits were from on my Instagram page. I then saw a niche in the market. I thought it would be a great idea to give my followers a chance to actually shop my looks. I began to contact designers who I loved and asked them to stock our shopping website with items I could style. I started this on a smaller scale and, when it was a success, we expanded OwnTheLooks.com. For the relaunch, we teamed up with regional influencers who are known for their style and asked them to style our features. It’s amazing how every influencer has their own identity when it comes to style.” Farahat also points out that you can shop the looks via Instagram or the OwnTheLooks website, making this a multi-functional platform for shopping that reflects how today’s shopper actually browses for and purchases clothing.
The idea of being styled by Ola Farahat is an exciting prospect, but there are other regional influencers that you can choose from as well. “Each influencer has their own dedicated styling page,” she shares. “You are able to access their style edits on the website itself, browse their style choices, and even get to see how they wore them. This page is also shoppable.”
Keep moving. Never take things too seriously. Believe in yourself. Nobody is going to help you make it.
When you’re growing a digital product, it helps to have a team in place to carry out all of the needs of a growing business. In exploring the details of how OwnTheLooks.com functions, Farahat shares, “We have a team of buyers who carefully scout upcoming talent and designers. Some of our buying trips went as far as Korea and Thailand on the hunt for some unique garments. After we identify the garments, we then undergo a traditional retail resale process and feature the items. As for the bloggers, we mainly collaborate with girls who are knows for their style. Each of our “squad” members has their own unique style. OwnTheLooks will be announcing the addition of eight bloggers to our squad in the upcoming months.” Speaking of squads, Farahat gives us a quick run-down of the women in hers; “Dana Al Tuwarish, Deema Al Asadi, Dima Al Sheikhly, Fatma Husam, Maram Zabaeda, Maya Williams, Sara Hashem, and Shahd Al Jumaily” are all on the list.
For Farahat, trend forecasting is more than a hobby, it’s a necessity – not only for building her personal brand, but also for curating what goes up on OwnTheLooks.com. When we asked her about the fashion that is exciting her in 2016, Farahat enthused, “Australian designers excite me a lot! They have a really unique way of making clothes. Also Korean fashion, of course. I love how they mix and match and how much individuality we see with Korean fashion.”
Success has found Farahat in a relatively short amount of time and, when compressing so many noteworthy moments into a short timeframe, it can be hard to plan for the future. However, she has a firm grasp on her five-year plan; “I see myself as someone who nurtures local talent. I want to create a platform for regional designers to get noticed on an international level through our influencers’ reach. I also want OwnTheLooks.com to penetrate the international market by teaming up with influencers based around the world. My plan is to create the largest network of influencers and designers all in a one-stop shop.”
Be kind while you’re killing it.
In looking to the future, we are reminded of all of the past moments and mistakes that have helped us learn and grow, so we asked Farahat what piece of advice she would give herself if he could go back in time. “Ahhh this is a good question,” she responds. “I’ve learned a lot in the industry. It’s very different from the days when I was working in consulting. I think the best piece of advice is to keep moving. Never take things too seriously. Believe in yourself. Nobody is going to help you make it. You can have all the contacts in the world, but at the end of the day you’re the only one that can make it happen for yourself. And most importantly, be kind while you’re killing it.”