We noticed their bag products both in faux leather and brass shining on El Gouna Film Festival red carpet and we spotted them in a lot of celebrity gatherings! A day after the other, we kept getting inspired by how authentically unique SUKI Designs bag lines are, and we even witnessed them being interviewed in more than one popular TV show. All of that made us decide to know the story behind the rapidly growing Egyptian brand. So, we interviewed the owners to find out they are actually a cute team of a talented mum and her 2 daughters, who took the step of pursuing their love for fashion proving very high quality of their work among other recognized big names! Mrs. Mervat Refai and her daughters Malak and Mai spoke to us about how they managed to work and actually succeed together despite the daily common mother-daughter arguments. Follow up for more!
1. We love your products, and we know that this is a business of a mother and two daughters. Tell us, how did you guys get started? Was it all planned from the beginning or one of you got the idea and convinced the others?
As a mother and her 2 daughters who share their love for art, we took art and fashion design courses together. Me, Mai, my mother Mervat Refai and my sister Malak started this business while it was not planned at all. It started when I decided to leave the corporate world and wanted to do my own business. I wanted to first see how I can incorporate art techniques with fashion. My mother came with me to the meetings with craftsmen and leather makers. She liked it and started becoming more involved as she enjoyed it. I think there is joy in creating something from scratch. Then, my sister Malak got involved in the photoshoots, she really has a flair for styling and the marketing side.
2. We all know that a mother-daughter relationship is similar to that of Tom & Jerry’s; always arguing but at the end they can’t live without each other! So, how is it to work with your daughters/mother?
Each of us has her own particular role so we give each other the freedom to decide each in their area. We also learnt from the start that each one has a different taste and accordingly, we won’t always agree on the same model. That’s fine too as long as it’s coherent with the concept that we are working on.
3. This question is for the mother: If one of your girls told you she wants to pursue another career, what will you say? Will you be encouraging her or the priority will be for SUKI since it became a family business?
As long as she is pursuing her passion. I think no one should ever live with 'what ifs' or any kind of unfulfilled dream pursuit. So as a mother, it’s my role to support her in any career decision she makes, of course.
4. What is the most popular/requested item among all your designs?
Our circle line collection was our first one and it is still requested till this day. Also, our metal and leather fringe back packs are so popular. Not to mention that the brass bags that are inspired from the Egyptian culture with the kaf and zamzameya models are always in demand too.
5. Who was the first celebrity that wore a SUKI product? How did it happen?
We had a lot of celebrities, fashion stylists and bloggers who ordered from us which was ,and is, so exciting for us ever since we got started. The first actress that was out during a big event was Asmaa Galal. She wore our iconic Shifteshy bag in the film festival and it was very exciting for us.
6. What inspires you? And what is the message you aim to send behind what you do?
We’re always inspired by history and cultural signs and meanings such as authentic unique patterns found in heritage sites. We admire the architectural designs of the historical buildings like those in downtown Cairo for example. The craftsmanship is so inspiring. We are always keen on showing culture in our designs with a modern twist. We also love exploring new materials. Not only that, but also functionality is always important to us because if the bag is not practical you will not want to wear it a lot.
7. Lately, a lot of celebrities such as Arwa Gouda, Mervat Amin, Poosy Shalaby and others have been caught in SUKI designs. How is it like to dress such big names?
We feel so happy and honored that they like our bags and took interest in our designs.
8. Mariam El-Khosht is known for her huge support for the cruelty-free movement, and we know she showed up in a SUKI bag on the GFF red carpet. Tell us how much you consider that aspect in your products?
We really loved Mariam’s look in the GFF; she really stood out. We are animal lovers as a family, and of course we are against animal cruelty. We would neither be part of anything that would inflict unnecessary suffering to them nor support any businesses that doesn’t adhere to good conditions for animals in its care.
9. Cairo Film Festival is coming up, should we look forward to seeing SUKI on the red carpet?
Yes, we hope so; we are very excited about the fact that celebrities are really encouraging local designers. There is really now more pride about products designed and made in Egypt.
10. What are your dreams for SUKI? How do you dream of expanding your brand?
We really do dream of expanding our brand. I am happy for where we are now, but I do hope one day that our brand becomes more known and expands in many other countries.
Main Image Credits: SUKI designs owners