Edyta Kochanowska-Holc, CEO & Founder, BeMystique
Nothing in this world is attained with sheer luck. Success comes to those who dare and act. It takes a great deal of diligence, perseverance, and dedication to reach new heights. Especially in the world of fashion, where change occurs as fast as a blink of an eye, making a mark in the industry while staying updated with current trends, consumers, and market needs is no easy feat. It takes fierce commitment and unwavering efforts to spearhead a fashion brand on a path of progression and possibilities. While getting into a fashion school enables you to experiment with design and learn the tricks of the trade, many leading designers have proven that this isn’t the only way to get a start in fashion. One such iconic women leader who has stormed the fashion ramp by showcasing her talent, creativity, and unmatchable sense of style is Edyta Kochanowska-Holc, the CEO, founder, and lead designer of BeMystique. Inspired by her story, we at Gulf Entrepreneur had a conversation with Edyta to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey and how she is leading by example. Below are the highlights of the interview:
- Brief us about the journey that inspired you to become an entrepreneur. What propelled you to incept BeMystique?
I was drawn to fashion from a very early age. I started working as a fashion model when I was 15 years old and continued working through my university days. By the time I left university, I was getting a lot of modeling work and decided to continue modeling full-time. It was only when I met my (now) husband and moved to Abu Dhabi, where he was working as a lawyer, that I got the chance to combine my business education with my love for fashion. Living next to the beach and enjoying constant sunshine, inspired me to start designing dresses and cover-ups. At first, I was making them only for myself. It took me some time to build up the courage to offer my designs to the public and open myself up to scrutiny and inevitable critique. At the end of the day, I wasn’t a trained fashion designer so I didn’t think that people would take me seriously. I was very pleasantly surprised at the very positive responses that I kept getting from my first customers. That gave me the courage to really focus on this as a business and not just a hobby. I decided to set up my own company (first in Abu Dhabi and then in Dubai) and we are now physically present in over 30 countries, selling to countless more via our eCommerce platform, and continue to double our sales each year. I could not have wished for a better result in the first few years of this journey.
- What is the USP of your company? Tell us more about your products for men and women?
Whilst I was making dresses for myself, I realized that what was really lacking in the market were cover-ups for the beach. I searched far and wide and couldn’t find anything that I really liked. I decided that this was a niche worth pursuing. I designed a woman’s kimono and made it available in various prints. I love vibrant colors and wanted to give women a product that was not only great for the beach but also a real statement of their character. We now expanded our range by a number of different models, including various kimono shapes, pants, crop-tops, blazers, etc, and a vast array of new prints. All of our products are made from our special fabric, available in our extensive selection of prints and can be mixed and matched as you like. We have also recently launched a men’s line, which currently consists of men’s kimonos and will soon be enriched by a whole selection of very unique men’s blazers.
If I were to asummarize our USP in a few words, it would have to be –‘exceptional quality and uniqueness. Each product is carefully handmade in our studio in Dubai, where we can ensure the highest level of quality. We really pay attention to every detail. Everything about our products is unique and very characteristic of BeMystique: our designs, colours, finishing, fabric, and prints. Many of our fabric prints are actually hand-painted by artists in Lake Como, Italy.
- Coming back to you, what are your responsibilities as an entrepreneur briefly? What is your understanding of good leadership? Please share with us, what is your leadership style?
As the CEO and creative head, I have quite a varied spectrum of responsibilities. I split my time between the creative side, which includes designing new models, collections, prints and overseeing the graphic design section, and the managerial side, which is making sure that we are growing as a business, setting/achieving the right targets, and looking at new opportunities, both in terms of internal improvement and external opportunities. I believe that good leadership is the ability to bring out the best in people, for them to feel empowered to be creative and really be part of the business. People who feel like a part of the brand and proud of their work, tend to work a lot harder and produce far better results.
- Here is a small but big question: What is success to you?
My greatest success was building up the courage to start designing clothing for others and actually starting my business. Now, success for me is seeing a growing number of people in our BeMystique family and seeing how our business is able to support an increasing number of families. I would very much like to see that growth from families to communities. I am also very excited about where we are today as a business in terms of our expanding product lines and geographic footprint, but it also feels like it’s just the beginning and there is so much more to be done.
We were recently chosen by the Jumeirah Group to design a special collection of women’s kimonos and men’s gowns for the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai, which will be provided in every room. Having been selected for this collaboration with the most prestigious hotel in the world is a true honor and a real testament to the work that our entire team has done over the years.
- In view of the future, what are you looking forward to as a person and an entrepreneur?
I am very excited about the growing relationship with the Jumeirah Group and working with other hotels in their group in addition to the Burj Al Arab. It is a real joy to be designing specific pieces that capture the essence of each distinct hotel, taking into account the architecture, color pallets, surrounding area, and the general feel of each property.
I am also very excited about the growth path that we are on. We currently have an established footprint in Europe, the Middle East, and the wider Caribbean area. This year we intend to deepen and expand that presence as well as focus on less penetrated markets such as the US. As part of this expansion from predominantly beach destinations to major cities, we are trying to show our customers different ways of wearing our products. We are repositioning ourselves from a beachwear brand to a resort wear brand, with more elegant designs and the ability to mix our products with other clothing to produce looks for every occasion. We will remain inspired by the beach and exude a holiday spirit, but hopefully be worn all year round, on beaches and in cities alike.