You are an acclaimed show director/choreographer and now have your own label. Tell us about your true calling. What is it that you personally think is your strength? I’ve always been a creative soul and If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing right now, I would still be in some sort of creative industry. Unfortunately, I did not go to school of fashion or creative arts. I actually did my master’s in business administration but nevertheless creativity was very much a part of who I was. To be honest, I’ve never known what my true calling is and a lot of people know what theirs is. But for me, one thing I have always known and wanted really badly in my life was to be a mom. I was definitely a creative person and I wanted to create amazing platforms for people. I was always up for doing something new and taking up a challenge. Fashion has always come to me naturally; I’ve been attracted to it since I was a very young child. I think my strength has been my belief in myself and the fact that I have persistently done what I’ve wanted to. I’ve never waited to be handed an opportunity, I’ve always created opportunities for myself. This is also the message I want to put across for the young people out there as well. Nobody is going to hand anything to you, you have to step out of your comfort zone and reach out and put yourself in the spot. My strength is my persistence, my determination and my belief in myself because I did not have many people in my life telling me that. I had to teach myself to believe in myself. Tell us about NACS Streetwear and how well is the target market responding to it? I felt that in Pakistan I would be seeing a lot of western apparel but nothing that would particularly target streetwear. Having lived in London for most of my life and now in Brooklyn for the past few years, I was really inspired by the street culture in Brooklyn. There’s this feeling of comfort in street wear, it’s so expressive and you can style and print whatever you want. Streetwear can really become a form of expression for people through their fashion choices. I felt that we did not have a high end streetwear brand in Pakistan. Since I am originally from Pakistan, I thought as my first target, I should create NACS for Pakistan. I would say the market is responding well but we are still in our initial months and it takes brands years to establish themselves so naturally, it will take NACS time to establish itself as well. NACS is an e-commerce brand and we don’t have a brick and mortar store. We have a good team on board, lots of hard work being put into it daily and a long road ahead! Being an international brand, what challenges did you face launching NACS in Pakistan? NACS was pretty much designed in Brooklyn because I live there and I wanted it to have a very strong Brooklyn aesthetic. But I did have many challenges launching in Pakistan, most of them being production related. I wanted to make sure that our quality is impeccable so it was extremely difficult to find production houses which would take small MOQS because we’re a limited edition brand while maintaining our high quality vision. Generally, these production houses are interested in bigger brands with higher MOQS so it was tough being a new start up in this highly competitive market which is centred and based around catering to bigger brands. It was also difficult to work with them because time keeping is something that the people in this particular industry are not very familiar with. I’ll be honest with you, it was a struggle, it was hard and needed a lot of perseverance but we got there. What are you currently working on apart from NACS? Believe me when I say that NACS is a full time job and it doesn’t give you much space to do much of anything else especially since it’s a start up. As you know, start-ups are like kids. You have to put a lot of love and energy in it and nurture them to grow. But I have been working with Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) and I was simultaneously working on their fashion week. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, it has been postponed to September but we will be starting work on it soon. What difference do you feel between the fashion statements of socialites of London and New York? I think that London is super designer oriented, high end and it can be a bit OTT. New York is more relaxed, chic and laid back. I find the style sensibility of New York more relatable to my personal taste. Who are more style conscious and who do you relate with the most? I think London is definitely more style conscious. As you know, the British are very particular about how they dress so in terms of style consciousness, I think London is probably more conscious. But personally, I relate more to New York style because I think the people who understand fashion in New York are quite effortlessly fashionable. It’s something that comes to them very naturally if you know what I mean and for me that works. Tell us about your experience directing the show for PFDC. Is it something you see yourself doing more of in the future? I’ve always had a wonderful time directing shows for PFDC. I have a lot of love and regard for Sehyr Saigol. It’s always a joy working with her. And whenever I can, I love to be a part of their fashion week, bringing in new ideas, new concepts and creating interesting shows. One thing I’ve realised in life is that you can never know what the future holds. Four years ago, I would have never believed that I would move to New York and be creating my own brand. I think life pretty much is evolving all the time so I have learnt along the way that sometimes you can’t plan your future and to take life as it comes. So yeah, it’s been a wonderful experience and I’d love to work with them in the future but at this point, you never know what the future holds. Fashion Parade has been quite the talk of the town in the years it took place. We are guessing COVID halted its running. Will it see the light of day again? Fashion Parade was my passion. It started as a passion project because I was so keen on putting South Asia on the map in an effective way where fashion sensibility is concerned. I was just not happy with the way fashion shows were being conducted for South Asian brands. I felt that there was a certain aesthetic and a standard that was missing and I created Fashion Parade to give South Asian designers a platform where we could really celebrate them in all their glory. It took off because of the quality of the shows we used to create. We had already planned the next one but midway COVID happened and since then, the future has been very uncertain which is why we have been unable to continue especially because New York has such strict protocols related to COVID. But to answer your question, no Fashion Parade has not been shelved. We will create Fashion Parade again when the time is right and hopefully in the coming years, when we are past this pandemic and production is back in business, we are looking forward to creating a wonderful show. Describe your personal style and how does this reflect in what you do as well as your brand? I think my personal style is quite simple and I think less is more. My personal style has definitely become more relaxed since I’ve come to New York. I like to mix and match things and I don’t like to follow a set formula. I enjoy experimenting with different looks and I certainly don’t like to wear what everyone else is wearing because it’s the norm. I like to do my own thing. I think personal style is personal style and everybody should create their own because that’s what makes it so personal and makes it so uniquely you. I’m not sure if my personal style reflects on what I’m creating because I’m working on a brand for the youth. And when I’m creating a brand, I’m thinking more of what that specific age group would like to wear and what the latest trends are so I can incorporate them into my brand. So, I don’t think it’s that much my personal style but my personal aesthetic does come in during the designing process. I create the entire mood board for the collections myself, and I’m very particular about what goes on my collection, the designs etc. I’m extremely involved in the design process so my aesthetic is definitely reflected in NACS. Do you believe investment is key when launching a new brand? Well obviously no brand can be launched without a certain amount of investment. Especially when it’s a product, there are so many processes like designing, creating manufacturing, and then you need a team to manage it all so all that takes money. Investment is key for a new brand whether it’s your own personal investment or from an external investor. Either way, whichever funding route you go, whether it’s external or personal, it is extremely important for a brand to maintain and upkeep the quality of the brand. One can start small and work their way up but retail is a very tough business and it’s not easy. So for all the people who may want to enter this particular industry, there are high risks and one must make sure that all their ducks are in a row before they start a new project.