Friday, November 04, 2011

Life of the Upcoming Designer, Ropena El-Hajj

The dream of becoming a designer is one that many fashionistas have. To pursue the dream, is something not too many follow through with. To be a designer you must keep in constant update with the trends, making sure your brand can not be undersold by another brand, keep your client base so you can keep your business running, and most important create unique and creative pieces that catch the eye of all the fashionistas willing to pay that extra dollar.

Thinking of the perfect up and coming designer in the city of New York, Ropena came to mind. Ropena, a mature businesswoman who is trying to establish herself in the fashion industry of New York, one that’s very tough to survive in however Ropena is managing. With her brand mainly carrying headpieces and jewelry she has established a brand that has yet to fail, and is becoming more and more popular with the New Yorkers, and now the Torontonians.

The name of the brand being, By Ropena, New York New York incorporates her name, and the city she has created the brand in. Making it completely original and unique.

The busy woman that Ropena is, she was able to stop off for a coffee while visiting Toronto and picking up some fabrics and I was able to get some interview questions from her. What first came to mind was; “What keeps you doing what you’re doing, even if you’re facing the financial difficulties that you are facing?” Ropena: I believe and I love what I do and I am also blessed to do what I am doing right now. Struggling is good it makes you a better person and it open your eyes to a lots of things in life. While being a designer, facing financial difficulties will be a must, as your building your brand basically from nothing you have to overcome all of this. The successful ones make it though, the unsuccessful don’t.

Ropena, why do you do what you do? My inspiration it comes from lots of things like watching old Hollywood glamorous movies from 1940 traveling to NY I love Europe music inspires me a lot. Do you feel that sometimes you can do better? Or that you have not done enough with your brand? Yes I feel like that every time I come up with new idea and new collection. No I don't think that I have done enough YET! because it’s never enough. Being in the fashion industry, do you feel that the competition is much larger than that of being in another industry? Yes, I feel that it is worse. You must ALWAYS be on top of your game, and if you miss one deadline, your line could be all ruined as the next brand may already have their line completed before yours. It’s all about time, creativity, and how you produce your merchandise. Do you see your brand going worldwide within the next ten years? OF COURSE, I want to see my brand in all the major fashion capitols, and I’m hoping it’s much sooner than ten years! What are your biggest goals for the brand? To take By Ropena into the next level by branching out to different cities as I mentioned earlier also shooting editorial with top models to add the extra highlight and also to working with famous and favorite photographer like Mario Testino. Is it hard making connections and meeting new people within the fashion industry? Yes of course it is difficult to speak and get in contact with the right people, but if you keep trying and they see you are trying to reach them, they sometimes come to find you! When maintaining costs and the amount of merchandise you can make and sell, do you see a balance? Or is it hard to balance the two while still trying to maintain your brand? It’s hard in the beginning while your maintaining your brand but at the same time you have to be the business side of your work by knowing your costs and your selling figures.

As the brand By Ropena continues to grow, I’m sure Ropena will expand her business and take it worldwide. With a personality, and character like Ropena she is for sure going to make it successful. She has already begun selling merchandise at famous department stores in New York such as Henri Bendels, Saks Fifth Avenue and Niemen Marcus. She is trying to get into The Room at The Bay, and her hopes for Holt Renfrew are coming closer than she thinks as she may be selling her merchandise for the spring/summer 2012 at Holt Renfrew Bloor Street Toronto.

Starting from nothing at such a mature age may have given her a time limit as many designers begin at such a young age, however Ropena has the knowledge of a mature businesswoman, which may have played a positive role on her brand. Ass the brand continues to grow, I proudly can say Ropena, owner and creative director of By Ropena, New York New York is not only a friend of mine, but like a second mother to me. I wish her all the best.

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