Today’s conversation is with Egyptian designer May Orfi, Founder and Designer of the contemporary womenswear brand Mayka. Orfi shares today with Social Unseen the inspiration behind her brand and her passion for the unique concept behind Mayka.
SU: Hi May, we’re glad to have you on Social Unseen.
MO: Hey there! it’s my absolute pleasure.
SU: Where did you study Fashion design and how was the experience?
MO: I studied fashion in Esmod Dubai, and had an educational background of graphic design in AUD, which helped me alot. My overall experience was not the best it could be, because I didn’t feel we were pushed enough. i always had this insane drive and dream to become a fashion designer, that i almost found myself always asking for more. But nonetheless I had some amazing teachers that were truly instrumental in building my career.
SU: How did you get the idea of creating your own brand?
MO: I always saw myself as having my own brand, but was never truly ready, I always had a fear of failure, and I was somehow procrastinating taking the first step. When i finally had the courage to start, my main target was to create a brand that offers something different, whether it being designs, price points or concept. I took a full year to really research the market, especially the regional one, and tried to find what was really missing.
SU: What inspires your creations?
MO: To be honest i’m not one of those designers that have a main source of inspiration every season. I get inspired by a feeling more than anything. I always have a vision of how I want people to feel while wearing my clothes. However, every season I find inspiration in something that intrigues me, and that helps me develop prints and a color palette. For example last spring/summer collection was inspired by underwater, and that’s why most of the collection has coral reef prints and pearl embellishments. But when I started sketching all I had in mind were pieces that truly make you feel worry free and on vacation, wherever you were.
SU: Can you describe Mayka in three words?
MO: Feminine, timeless, happy
SU: What is the most exciting part of being a fashion designer?
MO: There are so many great things, but truly one of the most wonderful things is seeing people loving the brand as much as i do. It doesn’t get old when I see someone wearing my designs, it’s a pinch me moment every single time. Also, the concept of seeing something come to life from just an idea, or a quick sketch, is beautiful.
Every season I find inspiration in something that intrigues me, and that helps me develop prints and a color palette.
SU: How do you want women to feel when wearing Mayka?
MO: As much as I want them to feel absolutely beautiful and confident, I want them to feel like they can accomplish anything, even if it’s a Farfetch dream. I want my pieces to somehow be a symbol of, if i can do it you can too.
SU: There is a lot of pressure for a designer to come out with something different each season – How do you deal with that?
MO: I don’t really stress myself about that, I truly enjoy being creative, and if anything it’s a blessing , and it’s my favorite part of my job. And at the end of the day I feel like it’s so important to always stick to my signature looks and details, and that gives me creative limitations that actually help me a lot.
SU: What makes Mayka different from other regional designers?
MO: One of the things I wanted to focus on was definitely an accessible price point, because I felt like that was missing in regional brands. Also I wanted to create a community that was tight, and that’s why I chose to be the face of the brand. It felt more personal, and it was a direct gateway to connect with customers, That way I got to hear feedback, help style pieces and even build friendships.
One of the things I wanted to focus on was definitely an accessible price point, because I felt like that was missing in regional brands.
SU: How do you think a new designer can be successful in the region?
MO: I really think they should take all the time in the world to research and find something that is missing and something that is authentic to them. With so many brands coming out every single day, and with social media being packed with content, you have to somehow standout from the crowd.
SU: Who’s your favorite designer of all time?
MO: Definitely Alexander McQueen and Lorenzo Serafini, I’m obsessed! Two very different aesthetics, but amazing.
SU: How do you think the current situation can impact the fashion industry?
MO: I feel like as much as the current situation was hard on almost everyone, it helped put everything in perspective. Especially in the fashion industry, with everything going on at an extremely high pace all the time, I feel like designers can now take a step back and realize that we don’t have to come up with a hundred collections a year. Also in my case it really showed me how everything is truly shifting online, and that I always need to be innovative, whether it being online customer experience or digital content.
With so many brands coming out every single day, and with social media being packed with content, you have to somehow standout from the crowd.
SU: Are you planning to have a physical store one day?
MO: To be honest, it is not something that I’m putting my focus on right now, I feel like everything is shifting online. But who knows, maybe one day.
SU: Are you planning to have a fashion show one day?
MO: I wish! I always dreamed of having one. Hopefully when things start going back to normal, We’ll start planning one.
SU: How do you find the right balance between creativity and business?
MO: This is a very important question, Because unless you’re blessed with both the talent of designing and being business savvy, your business is NOT going to work, and I am not. That’s why before starting I couldn’t do this alone. Mayka started with the hard work of both my business partner and I. Fashion is a business like any other, and I feel like a lot of people have a misconception that it’s all about creating beautiful clothes. But if anything, it is just one chunk of it. There are so many things that go into this to make it work the way that it does.
Interview by Ines Aktouf