This week we find ourselves inspired by fashion entrepreneur Nadia Marzouk, founder of Authentique.
Authentique is an online fashion retail platform with a serious technological edge, and a mission is to redefine the typical shopping experience. Authentique showcases the works of Canadian and Egyptian designers while integrating a Virtual Fitting Room (through virtual reality technology) into the online store to provide shoppers with an innovative and seamless shopping experience.
Nada, Authentique’s founder, is Egyptian Canadian herself, and a recent graduate of Ryerson’s Digital Media program. She was also selected to participate in their Fashion Zone Incubator. Being Egyptian myself, I was thrilled to connect with Nada to learn about what she’s created through Autentique. I immediately went online to check out her store’s wares, and was impressed by how easy the site is to navigate, and the variety of items from both Canadian and Egyptian makers at various price points, from easy and accessible to lush and luxurious. It was super simple to test out the virtual fitting room by using the “Try On” buttons located on different items on the site. Check out the demo of the 3D virtual fitting room here.
With a focus on bringing fashion from back home closer to our current home, and a priority on empowering female designers from both countries, Authentique has made me a fan for life. I got the chance to chat with Nada about her business and what advice she has for aspiring entrepreneurs like herself. Take a read below!
What inspired you to start your business?
I am a recent master’s graduate of Digital Media at Ryerson University in Toronto. Being a part of the Fashion Zone at Ryerson University, Canada’s first incubator of fashion- inspired business, allowed me to really place my platform perfectly within the Canadian market. I really had to put myself out there attending a lot of networking events happening around the community, to make myself and my idea more familiar. Now, what started as an idea to create a platform combining the passion I have for, both, fashion and technology has now changed into reality.
Why this particular business model? Why this concept?
My concept is really centralized around the idea of redefining the luxurious shopping experience through fashion and technology. That sparked idea for me to take this opportunity and turn it into a well-rounded business that connects with local brands and revolves around empowering local Egyptian and Canadian designers through a 3D Virtual fitting room, under the motto of “Redefining Fashion and Technology”.
I’ve experienced (as I’m sure most girls do) a problem with the “right fit” while online shopping. The hassle of always having to return something because it doesn’t fit your body shape or not being able to see the quality in advance. The virtual reality technology allows customers to see a simulated version of themselves that considers their body shape, size and weight. Which makes the experience more personable and inclusive, who wouldn’t want to save money and visualize the product in 3D before buying it! In a nutshell, I see a lot of value in creating convenience for Egyptian and Canadian shoppers.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to face?
I mostly had challenges with finding the right technological solution that will best serve my idea, so I started researching and approaching many leading retail tech businesses that are focusing on this type of solution until I finally partnered with Virtual Outfits, based in Los Angeles.
What are some of the successes you’ve had?
I think the biggest success I have had to date would be being invited to attend Vancouver Fashion Week SS19. I had the opportunity to showcase my first official PopUp in the Designer Showroom. Numerous amounts of people had the opportunity to stop by and really check out our pieces. Canada’s Top 10 Best Dressed 2017,Award Winning Vancouver Interior Designer, Aleem Kassam looked snazzy rocking blue embellished Chemical X by Farah Wagdy.
On another note, we were really fortunate to be able to display the 3D Virtual Fitting Room and explain the process for people to try it out.
The brands that I have currently on my website are a blend of both Egyptian and Canadian Designers. The Canadian brand Is a fine gold jewelry brand called Claurete, the 6 Egyptian designers include: Alicia Arts, Camicie, Farah Wagdy, Ramla & Sadafa.
What’s piece of advice would you give to someone trying to do what you do, or trying to follow their own dreams?
If you have an idea that you’re passionate about, do your research and let it take its time to flourish. It will require lots of patience and persistence from one side and lots of diligence and agility from another side. My supervisor and mentor, Sean Wise, always told me; find your unmet market need and the “Secret Sauce” to your identified problem. And I guess that has been working well for me so far. Also having a supportive team is important. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the designers and their tireless work.
So instead of heading to the mall for boxing day this year, try supporting an entrepreneur who has made a business out of supporting local designers. Shop at Authentique today and happy holidays!