Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in fashion but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Celine Hajjar, founder of NAFSI, a sustainably sourced & ethically made clothing line located in Ottawa, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
NAFSI is a line of sustainable fashion & design. The word NAFSI is Arabic for 'myself, my soul' because change starts from within. My goal is to combine art, fashion, and design while giving back to underprivileged communities and inspiring others. Customers are whoever can relate to the art, fashion, or mission I put forth through NAFSI. After all, the brand stands for self - so if the brand resonates with a customer, then NAFSI stands for them.
Tell us about yourself
I have been making my own clothes since the age of 12 years old, drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. I've lived in Canada my whole life but moved to Dubai for six years after university - where I first started my business. I love a challenge, and I'm motivated every day because what I do doesn't feel like work. I know I'm on the right track because I'm present in my work, I'm mindful in my decisions, and I love what I friggen do.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Getting featured in Vogue. I'll never forget the moment that happened. I launched my business in January 2020. I had rolls of organic cotton sitting in my apartment in Dubai. The pandemic hit suddenly, and I had to make a move. So I flipped the rolls of cotton into luxury bed sheets (that ended up being NAFSI's best-sellers) and used the fabric scraps to make organic cotton masks. I partnered with a local charity and had proceeds donated to underprivileged children around the world.
One afternoon, I was sitting in a meeting with our production team when my phone lit up and said, "Vogue has just mentioned you in their story." I could not contain my excitement! This was at the very beginning of NAFSI's journey, and we were in... VOGUE! I jumped in my chair, jumped off my chair, and jumped in place. I didn't know who to tell first or how to react. It has been my most impactful accomplishment yet.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Not getting consistent results - however, you measure that. It could be through revenue, followers, visibility, etc. It will be up and down for a while; it still is with NAFSI. But understanding how to navigate the lows and enjoy the highs will help you move forward.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find what you love and do it. That's the only way you'll be willing to overcome the challenges.
- Work with impact. Don't just think of making money - people love authenticity.
- No one's advice is as valuable as your instinct.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Shop NAFSI, plant trees! We plant a tree for every item sold :)
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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