In the heart of Zamalek, Cairo, at the top left corner of Degla Center lies a shop so chic you can never help but walk inside and see what they've got. I personally have told so many foreigners about this place, because other than including designs from the Amina K. herself, she retails every other trendy brand on the block. The store encompasses all styles and creative pieces from Egyptian-only designers, allowing any visitor to walk out feeling like they've purchased a useful souvenir, for a change. The founder and creative designer, Amina Khalil, has generally wowed me with her classy designs and her entire business presence in Egypt. Having attended talks that Amina hosted about motherhood, fitness, and fashion, I have noticed the energy she attracts, and how this 34 year-old power woman's glowing face welcomes you into her store as well as her brand, day after day. We got the privilege of chatting with Amina K. and getting some answers about her must-have brand.
When did you launch your line?
I started Amina K. In 2009.
What is the inspiration behind your line?
Amina K. is dedicated to and inspired by Egypt. All our production is carried out in local workshops, always featuring a hand made element. This allows us to pay attention to every detail, making each style unique and personal. It’s a modern brand with an ethnic flavor, playing with subtle details.
What are some obstacles you encountered while becoming an established designer?
Production has always been the most challenging part of the job with endless obstacles. From sourcing material, to finding skilled workers, to ensuring high quality of each piece, and the list goes on. We are always trying to perfect our production cycle and become more efficient.
Also as a designer and manager finding the balance between the creative and business side is very challenging. You have to wear so many hats and sometimes it’s very hard to switch off from all the pressure and design.
What is your favorite piece (or pieces)?
For this season I love the Embroidered Tier Ruffle Skirt. The handmade embroidery makes it very original and the fit is very flattering and you can dress it up or down.
How do you manage all of this and being a mother?
It’s all about your support system. I’m very lucky that my mother is very hands on with my kids and my work so she can fill in when I need her to. I set priorities for the day depending who needs me most the kids or work. I’m constantly juggling and feeling like I’m always one step behind. But in the bigger picture it’s all fine and things get done when I can and I just have to remind myself every day that this time with my kids passes by so fast and that I have to enjoy it.
Can you explain the concept of Hosted by Amina K and how you came up with it?
I’m very happy with how Hosted developed. I have always collaborated with local brands in doing events and trunk shows along the years and the turn out and feedback was always great. On occasion I would host a couple of brands at the store for pop ups. When I had my kids and decided to skip a season I found it was a great opportunity to make Hosted into a long term arrangement and turn the store into a concept store. I enjoy handpicking local brands that I personally admire and bring them to my clients. We only have a handful of brands at a time and we work very closely with them to promote and present them the best way possible. We rotate brands and play around with the product mix at the store. It’s has worked out well because it attract different clients to the store, keep the merchandise new, and it gave me flexibility with Amina K. in terms of when I release my collections.
How can people outside of Egypt purchase your designs?
Our online store is currently targeting the local market but we will soon be expanding into new markets.
What advice would you give other aspiring designers?
To gain as much work experience in the field as they can before committing to their own brand. To try and get an education of some sort, designing and making clothes is very technical and that would give them a strong backbone. To be passionate, determined, and always look at the bigger picture and not get caught up with the day to day negativity. It’s very hard work and they have to be willing to give it all they have got.
Who is your style icon/your favorite designer?
My favorite designer is Karl Lagerfeld. I respect him, admire his work ethic and his never ending desire to remain current and creative. He is a fashion machine.
I have too many style icons. Queen Rania, Kate Moss, Blake Lively; they change depending on my mood.