Thursday, February 4, 2010

Emerging Designers Spotlight: Fadwa Baruni Dream Chaser | Emerging Designers

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I favor structured and tailored designs and with a strong element of comfort.”,Fadwa Baruni

Noblivity enjoys a moment with Baruni Couture

Company/Designer Name: Baruni Couture/Fadwa Baruni

Designer Background Summary: I started my career as a petroleum engineer in North Africa and studied in the UK for my masters in Petroleum Engineering then started work in the oil industry. I was always interested in fashion from a young age but only after working in the oil industry for some time did I decide to change careers and chase my dream of becoming a fashion designer. All that math and engineering remains a valuable set of skills and I find working in design they are invaluable in allowing me to better understand the structure of a garment – maybe I engineer clothes as much as I design them!

How did you get started? I started by taking design classes in the evening to develop my skills as a designer and after two years of study in Edinburgh, Scotland, I decided to take the plunge and quit work with my husband’s support to start a full time course at Edinburgh College of Art. This was a very stimulating experience and gave me a broad view of art and design – I wasn’t only doing textile design but sculpture and painting too. After a year my husband’s work took him to the Middle East and we moved to Dubai where I enrolled in a local fashion design course which I completed in two years and immediately started my own business. This is a complicated process in the UAE and it took time to get the licenses, find a factory source material and then to design, sample and manufacture my first collection. We launched the products on the local market in 2009 and have been making steady progress in selling through the year. I was delighted to be able to work with Noblivity in North America – they are just the kind of partner and customer focused company we like to work with.

What inspires your designs? I am inspired by people and their needs and am also influenced by my North African background and my life in Europe. The designs must be comfortable and make a woman feel sexy and in control. I have chosen to work only in black and white initially and enjoy the challenge to innovate within these constraints. I have a passion for quality and take a lot of time to ensure the garments reach my high standards before they ship.

How would you describe your design style? I favor structured and tailored designs and with a strong element of comfort. I work mostly in natural fabrics – cotton, linen and silk as these are best in delivering the comfort and quality feel of the clothes.

What designers inspire you? Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, YSL all the time and others such as Donna Karan.

What obstacles did you have to overcome? For me getting into fashion design was finally being able to follow my passion. It was not easy to give up a successful career in engineering and going back to life as a student and the initial costs of setting up the business were quite intimidating. In getting started here I had to deal with the local bureaucracy and find out all the rules and regulations required to set up a business in the country and to find material and factories capable of making the clothes to the quality standards I am aiming for. That said there are few countries in the world where it is possible to set up a business and design, manufacture and sell in the same area.

How did you overcome them? Sheer determination to win. I also have had strong family support to keep the project going and this has helped when enthusiasm flags a little.

What has been your greatest moment on your journey so far? I think seeing women wearing my clothes has given me the greatest satisfaction – I realized when I saw this that I had passed a very important milestone in finally getting to market and that the clothes were attractive to others too.

Where are you headed personally and professionally? I have only just started. My aim is to get the next collection out as soon as I can and expand sales to Europe, Asia and, of course, throughout the US. I have many more ideas for designs than I can make at the moment and I need to expand my fabric sourcing and manufacturing resources to take advantage of these opportunities. I plan to stay independent and build the business for many years to come. There is nothing like being your own boss – even if the boss turns out to be very demanding.

If money were no object what would you do right now? Go on a two month fabric buying spree to the best fabric mills I could find.

What are the best and worst things about being a designer? Being able to express yourself and see your finished garments being worn is the best aspect of being a designer and the worst is that it is a very lonely exercise – like writing or being an artist – you have to work on your own with the design process.

Describe your typical day? My typical day starts at about 6.30 when my daughter wakes us up by demanding her milk and some attention. Once I have her fed and washed and ready for nursery, I drop her off and head to the workshop to supervise the team on the latest samples we are getting ready for the next collection. This usually takes all day and there is no time to design or do anything else in this phase of the work – the factory is waiting on us to deliver the samples and we have to be on time. I leave the office at about 4 and spend an hour or two with my daughter before she goes to bed. Then I have time on my own to work on my designs, finish documents for the factory to manufacture to or work on adverts and other sales and marketing issues. I usually get to bed exhausted but happy around 11pm.

What’s your philosophy of life? Live it to the full – it is not a dress rehearsal

What’s your favorite meal time setting? I love going to busy noisy restaurants – my favorite at the moment is Buddha Bar in Dubai

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently? Start earlier on building my fashion business.

When will you know you have made it? When I see a store in London or Paris or New York (preferably all three) with my name in lights above the door and seeing big name department stores like Harvey Nichols or Saks 5th Avenue selling my clothes.

The Baruni Couture Collection is available @ The MarketPlace

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