Giovanina Atieh has an experience of over 10 years in the international fashion industry. She completed her Masters in Advertising and Fashion Communication in Milan, after which she worked as part of Vivienne Westwood’s PR and styling team in Milan. She was also part of a start-up project dedicated to working with young undiscovered Italian designers. Giovanina, and after spending 3 years in Milan, moved back to the M.E. and worked for over 7years as a luxury fashion buyer for AL OSTOURA. Giovanina, or Nina, is not only passionate about the fashion industry, she also found herself reaching out to support and guide young talents through her company Maison Pyramide that is based in Egypt.
When asked about the reasons that made her settle in Egypt, Nina said:
I had the chance to travel the world and live in many different places, experience and immerse myself in different cultures and I gathered a wide network of friends and connections through the process. My accumulated experience mixed with my collaborative approach, flair for talent and perseverance make me feel drawn towards talent that need guidance and assistance. I have always had the urge to help anyone I could see becoming better, whether talent-wise or personally.
So when I found myself in the fashion world, the young and new designers were what I felt most drawn to.
When I moved to Egypt in 2014, I realized how the fashion industry was still quite inexistent. After having been in fashion for such a long time and having been used to being surrounded by beauty and talent, I had to dig and find this in the country in which I was going to live for a while. There was clearly budding talents, but they needed guidance to really break into the field and to help establish a solid fashion scene in Egypt. I thought and still think it’s definitely doable. Now, there’s still a lot of work to be done and we have a long ways to go, but at least we’ve put down a foundation for the industry to grow up on.
It’s wonderful how many young women and men are drawn towards working with Maison Pyramide and being part of our company, even though we are just a start-up still. They all believe we will make a difference somehow and are all investing their time to help us achieve it. Not only working with the young designers is wonderful, but also working with a young team- our team- that is full of aspiration and hope to be part of something different that allows them freedom of expression.
Nina, besides helping young designers, she also aims to promoting fashion, starting with Egypt:
It is such a beautiful feeling to know that I can help young talents in this, still closed, country to make a difference out there, make their family and country proud and help the industry prosper.
Through these young designers, I have been able to start a fashion ambassador program for Egypt, working with influencers and celebrities. I have managed to group the words Egypt and fashion together in so many new circles around the world. It is also a direct tourism promotion because by inviting these influencers to Egypt and collaborating with them on beautiful shoots, we are showing the world the beauty of Egypt through fashion.
I started with Egypt because this is where I am now but I am to work on expanding and tapping into the region and international new markets such as brazil and south America etc. I also think Egypt is one of the most challenging places- fashion wise- because we have no support from any institutions. I am working towards creating a fashion association in order to protect and push this industry forward. I truly believe that it would make such a difference for the country on so many levels, from tourism to trade to helping the idea of freedom of expression.
Other than being proud of helping these young brands rise up to success, I also get to grow my business and the recognition of my skills and reach, growing my PR circle with every new accomplishment.
Tell us about Okhtein:
As of Today as a success story, I can only say Okhtein
The girls really set themselves apart from day one. Their talent was so unique and so progressive, helping them to really grow fast over the years. Other than their talent, I saw in them a thrive to become better and work hard to reach goals. All they needed was guidance, structure and raising the brand awareness. They have taught me as much as I have taught them, today I not only see them as business partners but I cherish them as friends Not only have they proved themselves locally, but they did so also regionally and internationally, seen worn by the likes of Jessica Kahawaty, Karen Wazen but also Emma Watson, Emma Roberts, Kris Jenner and recently supermodel Bella Hadid. I made sure the girls apply for the 2016 Vogue Arabia Fashion prize and we worked so hard to compete due to having no real ressources in Egypt and so they proved themselves even further by winning!!! Winning landed them in the first issue of Vogue Arabia and in high-end retailers, such as Farfetch.com and its boutique partners, including Browns in London, Curve in the U.S.A and Al Ostoura in Kuwait. They were also chosen as one of the top finalists for the 2016 Joke Veeze Award for their Palmette Minaudiere bad, which is now being displayed in the Tassen Museum Hendrikje, or The Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam as part of the “Royal Bags” exhibition.
They are really hardworking girls and they are full of energy and it shows. They’re always keen on learning and improving based on directives and advice and their designs really speak for themselves. They’ve worked hard on developing their brand and are constantly looking for ways to innovate their designs and to add something new to the industry. They have a great story to tell and tell it through their collections! For that they make it really beautiful for me to work even harder and push for it.
-Is there any obscure designers that you are eying and think they will be successful in the future?
I currently have my eye on two “obscure” designers who I think have great potential for success in the future.
I have been working closely with Amr Saad, a metal and silver artist and artisan. He has such an interesting personality and creativity, he’s ambitious and all about doing things like no one else. Each of his pieces is special and handmade and he really puts so much passion into them. He’s definitely going to be the next big success story!
Another name I have been eying and recently started working with is Mohanad Kojak, the self taught young designer who has been able to establish a name for himself in Egypt despite the limited resources. Egypt unfortunately does not make it easy for different and bold characters. Kojak takes this hardship into a challenge to push himself even more and finds serenity into the world of his fashion house that he’s been building brick by brick! He’s young, different, disruptive and isn’t afraid of adding his own take on what fashion is. He’s already been widely noticed through his participation in Project Runway Middle East, which is only the start of the journey for him.
When asked about the principles every new comer/ designer should know about this field:
Obviously it takes talent and a vision. Because the market is so young, there’s so much room for innovation and creation. Some people might say that anyone can become a fashion designer nowadays, but do they really have what it takes to stand out? They need to educate themselves very well on the trends and to not be afraid to add their own take on fashion because there is so much competition and amazing new brands out there! Being different is always great, it adds a new perspective onto the industry. The problem with the market being pristine is that it’s easy to copy and be perceived as great. But to obtain a real status is to make it outside the borders, for real recognition and also real business. This is what I look for in designers I choose to home and mentor.
-How do you spot talent?
Thanks to my experience and wide exposure to fashion, arts and travels, I have developed an eye for interesting and moving details which make talent, but beyond the product. For me, the personality of the designer is my number 1 indicator of success. You can have talent but it needs a lot of constant personal development and hard work to turn a talent into a successful business.
At the end, her answer on what pushes her to do more and continue in her quest:
The gratefulness of these designers, the trust they put in me and the happiness they reward me with when I get them to our set goals makes all this hard work so worth it. The designers I work closely with push me continuously, they believe in me the way I believe in them and for that there are no limits to do more