x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Emirati designer Iman Al Midfa wins British Council Entrepreneur award

The founder of Ghizlan Fashion House in Sharjah was praised by the panel of judges for her unique collection of abayas and traditional wear.

Iman Al Midfa in her Sharjah boutique.
Iman Al Midfa in her Sharjah boutique.

The Emirati designer Iman Al Midfa saw off stiff competition to scoop the coveted British Council Young Creative Entrepreneur in Fashion and Design 2012 title, part of the International Young Design and Fashion Entrepreneur Awards.

The founder of Ghizlan Fashion House in Sharjah, known for fusing western and Emirati styles, was praised by the panel of judges for her unique collection of abayas and traditional wear. Come September, Al Midfa will represent the UAE in London, along with 21 other international finalists, for a week of unrivalled and high-profile networking events.

Congratulations Iman, how does it feel to have won the British Council award?

It feels great, it's definitely a big milestone and I'm looking forward to achieving more in the future. My dreams are big and I'm determined to make them become a reality.

What was the application process like and what prompted you to enter in the first place?

A relative forwarded the application for me to participate. I was so excited and was glad that I was about to fulfil the first step towards achieving my vision of being globally recognised. And as soon as I applied and sent the necessary information, I had a feeling that I would win the award.

Describe the moment you were told you had won.

I was in a business meeting when I received an email from the British Council and in the subject line was written "Winner". I was so excited, but didn't want to disturb the meeting, so I held my breath and waited until it was over. Then I immediately raced to share the news with my close ones.

What do you think gave you the competitive edge over the other applicants?

I believe I spoke with passion and was confident about my work and talent. I had gathered my thoughts and prepared myself extremely well prior to the interview, so I knew exactly what to say and when. It went perfectly and I enjoyed the experience. The panel was extremely challenging but they lent me positive support at the same time.

How did you establish Ghizlan Fashion House in the first place? What were the challenges associated with setting up your business?

I outsourced the production services at first, then things became more real and my business had to grow. I went through the normal procedures of establishing a trade licence and this took a fair amount of time. I have never sought any funding for the business, and made it a priority for the company to grow from my own profits. I suppose this took longer than if I had been funded, but I'm very relaxed knowing that it's a good lesson in controlling and managing my funds well.

Is there a best-selling design, style or cut that seems to endure year-after-year?

My best-selling designs are those with unique pattern-print materials and some authentic embroidered and colourful patterns.

What is currently 'en vogue' - what are clients craving right now?

They are always craving new and unique cuts, yet simple and practical ones. Nevertheless, I love taking on the challenge of offering them new perspectives on design, and, to my astonishment, they fall in love with them!

Where do you see your business in the coming years? What are your ambitions?

I see Ghizlan taking part in global fashion catwalks and shows. My ambition is to be globally recognised for my great talents in the world of style and trend.

What effect do you see the British Council award having on your business going forward?

I see it having a greatly positive effect and, as mentioned, helping me on my first step towards achieving many more goals in the coming years.

Ghizlan Fashion House, Villa 13, Suleiman Al Tabarani Street, Sharjah. Call 055 715 7575 or visit www.facebook.com/GhizlanCollections

rduane@thenational.ae