Entrepreneurship: Interview to Almustafa Mahmoud

@IE University

IE University student Almustafa Mahmoud Khalid created BLVCK APPAREL, an independent label that aims to create statement pieces of clothing for its customers.

Almustafa’s business model is redefining the startup fashion industry in Asia. Read this short interview to learn more about his company.

What is BLVCK APPAREL?

BLVCK APPAREL is an independent fashion label with the goal of creating pieces of clothing that are not really meant to be used as clothing, but to serve as a statement made by the wearer. We achieve this by spending enormous amounts of time on making sure our pieces are one of a kind. This is evident in the line’s combination of quality, design and price. Something that also makes us stand out from the rest is the fact that everything we produce is limited edition, and so people feel that the pieces are more special than what they can buy from other brands.

How did you get your idea or concept for BLVCK APPAREL?

To be honest, in startups, ideas grow, develop or sometimes change completely. For me, BLVCK APPAREL had always been an idea roaming around my head, and it just needed some means with which to come out. The fashion market is saturated with brands, especially due to the internet- nowadays you can contact a supplier via Whatsapp and suddenly you’re a brand. But I didn’t want to make clothes, I wanted to make wearable art pieces, and this is what makes BLVCK stand out.

What has been the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

We have had quite a few challenges so far, but the biggest has been shifting from online to offline or physical sales. As we’re a developing brand, shops, retailers, distributors and malls are quite sceptical about the risk they are taking by investing in us. We did manage to make lots of physical sales, and the best way we found of doing this was by hosting runway shows, where people got a real taste of what the brand is all about. We aim to hold more shows in 2018 and we are also planning on opening some pop-up shops in Asia soon.

What does entrepreneurship mean to you?

Entrepreneurship to me is a way of life. I’m the kind of person that is always looking for new adventures, new challenges and new people to prove wrong. I have created many projects and a few businesses before; some succeeded and some failed. This is what entrepreneurship is all about: a lot of trial and error. But it also comes with a huge learning curve, and I think that’s what got me addicted. BLVCK APPAREL seems to be in an industry where there is much to learn, so I won’t be leaving Creative Direction of the brand any time soon.

What is your advice to anyone who is considering a career as an entrepreneur?

First of all, they need to know if this is actually what they want to do. Entrepreneurship is not at all superior to working for another company or on someone else’s project. In fact, research shows that entrepreneurs on average have lower earnings and a very slow “career growth”, generally because if you start a company, you are already the boss.

Second of all, if you can manage to motivate yourself to work for someone else and be passionate about it, then find work in the industry or do an internship before you jump in. It will save a lot of time on finding out some small details you’d simply not know if you went right into entrepreneurship.