When Mai Al-Owaishi’s sister returned to Kuwait from the London College of Fashion the fashionista knew it was time to merge her love of style and entrepreneurial spirit. The result is Owayshi.com, a trend-setting boutique that has changed the game in online shopping. The bazaar team sat with Mai to find out how a financial analyst has taken her passion to the World Wide Web.
When did you first become interested in fashion?
I believe fashion should be a unique part of every girl’s life. I think the older I get the more I become interested in fashion, especially with everything that is happening in our world these days. Fashion is everywhere around us from TV shows to social media, and it has changed so much over the past years.
What motivated you to start Owayshi.com?
We were so bored from finding the same stuff everywhere we went, whether it was in Kuwait or abroad. All the stores were carrying the same lines with the same trends. It was so frustrating. On top of that you find that Kuwait or the Middle East in general had huge mark-ups. Whenever we traveled we would shop in boutiques to find those special pieces and differentiate ourselves.
Did you face any difficulties in starting your website?
It was the first time for us to build a website. Building an interactive website is totally different than fashion and retail. You find yourself having to learn so many technical issues in order to make things as smooth as possible for the online shopper. Think of it this way, the simpler the experience of the online shopper is, the more effort and work was put in behind the curtains. We are still learning things along the way. Also, commissioning the right factories to do our label was another challenge.
What product ranges are available at Owayshi.com?
We currently cater to women, with high street styles and every day wears, from clothes to footwear to accessories. We wanted to start right and offer a wide range of products and not just a few pieces so we went full-fledged.
What distinguishes Owayshi.com from other online shopping websites?
We have our own brand under the name “Owayshi” as well as other up and coming high street brands. Prices are affordable to everyone. We also personally select and handpick all our fashion lines, and have the products available for delivery within 2 to 4 days depending what time the order was placed.
What are the latest trends available online to start the New Year?
On our website we have lots of lace! We have tops, skirts and dresses in all different colors. As for 2014, Radiant Orchid has been named the pantone color of the year. So I think we will be seeing a lot of color next year. Winter isn’t all about black or gray anymore, it’s about bold colors.
How would you describe your style?
Simple yet chic, I go with whatever makes me comfortable, depending on my mood. I am up for dressing up on some days and wearing my heels and going out with my girls. On the other hand, some days I just want to wear jeans and put on a t-shirt and just get out. I always try to wear a statement piece though, whether it’s accessories or clothing. Having style doesn’t mean you have to go all out, simple things can make all the difference sometimes.
What is your style obsession?
It’s all about the season, I love dressing up in my leggings, boots and oversized sweaters for winter and I love my skirts and dresses in the summer. I think the one thing in common is that I love my earrings; I’ve lost track of how many pairs I own. I’ve recently been obsessed with lace.
What’s next for Owayshi.com?
We were getting too many requests from customers outside of Kuwait, but our focus was on Kuwait, because we wanted to handle things the right way. As we have gained the experience and the know-how, we decided that we have the ability to expand. Therefore, our next step will be expanding our fashion line and catering to the whole GCC and maybe worldwide. As for what is next after that, let’s say we will keep it a surprise.