Seattle and its surrounding areas has amazing diversity when it comes to fashion and beauty. In just one morning of walking down Red Square, Rainier Vista, or the Ave, I see an amazing range of different outfits and clothing ensembles: fancy peacoats paired with sleek boots, North Face jackets, and caps with sweatpants.
Against this backdrop of rainy sky and grey clouds, entrepreneurs rise to the challenge of adding to Seattle’s fashion scene.
Ammar Sammo, a new clothing designer, creates his brand Hereafter, Co (www.hereafter.life). Having always had a passion for designing and creating, Ammar’s brand started when he would attempt to post the most “fire” Instagram picture. In the process, he custom-designed a T-Shirt with the quote, “I feel like praying,” based on Kanye West’s shirt “I feel like Pablo.” He posted pictures of his new shirt, and before he knew it, messages started rolling in asking him how to buy it.
“Nobody even believed me that I made it.” He says, “So I was like you know what, I'm selling these. After that, everything just kind of fell into place; the brand name, the style, the vibe, the beauty and my creative skills all falling into one agenda.”
Ammar knows how competitive the fashion industry is, and how brands are fighting for their place to define who they are, and so he perseveres with the goal of creating a market of his own in the industry where his brand will grow alongside those of other streetwear brands. Unique, but still his own vision.
Another designer with a vision, Mahek Sethi, is rapidly creating her own niche in the fashion industry, by embroidering all her products by hand.
“I sell custom hand embroidered baseball hats with Arabic writing. My grandmother was my inspiration.” She says.
“When I was eight years old I visited Pakistan and she taught me how to knit and crochet. Since that day, I became obsessed with creating handmade staple fashion items.”
Mahek is a junior at the University of Washington Bothell campus. Sometimes, she stays up until 3:00am on a night before class fulfilling orders. She, too, started out creating the products for herself and posting pictures on Instagram and Snapchat. Within those first couples of hours, she was already receiving custom orders. She ended up creating many customized caps that were unique to each individual customer. (You can also send in a custom order through her Instagram @abreathofmahek.)
Stitch by stitch, Mahek is building her brand with her mission, “Strengthening bonds with needle and thread." Her goal is to break up the stigma surrounding the Arabic language and have people recognize its beauty rather than associate it with extremist groups.
Speaking of beauty, another company is soon to launch with Bianca Recuenco and her company’s co-founders, Eddy Huang and Simran Kota, working hard to launch a line of cosmetics with the goal of giving the control of redefining beauty into the hands of their customers. Their target audience: women of color. They are ensuring their products cater to a wide range of skin tones and complexions, with the initial inspiration emerging from the recognition that there is a lack of representation for people of color in the beauty industry.
“People of color have to really search for products that match their skin and when they don’t see themselves reflected in the products, it kind of diminishes the importance of their needs and their visibility as individuals,” explains Bianca.
I, myself, could not agree more having ended up with too many useless bottles of foundation a little too orange or a little not yellow enough for my skin.
But just like Ammar Sammo and Mahek Sethi, Bianca Recuenco and her co-founders are finding the biggest difficulties in navigating a brand new territory when it comes to starting a business. Regardless, they’re hoping to launch the cosmetic line and solidify their branding and marketing within the next year.
“With this company, it is my hope that customers feel a sense of empowerment, utilize these products as an outlet for creativity, and reclaim what the concept of ‘beauty’ means to them,” she says.