Samanah Duran is a British fashion designer and entrepreneur. Her fierce emphasis on inspiring each individual to embrace their identity and to take pride in their individuality is perfectly presented in her vision for innovative clothing line with Critics Clothing, which was revolutionised through the crafting of indulgent streetwear with the power to evoke self-expression. Building on that inspiration as an extension of Critics Clothing, Samanah has now successfully launched BEYOUROWN, a digital media & news company dedicated to inspiring young women in business. Read how the Critics Clothing founder is pioneering the #BEYOUROWN notion.
Hows it going Samanah, hows your day so far?
Hey! Yes it’s going great so far thank you, more so looking forward to kicking off 2018.
Lets start with how your day usually starts and how it ends?
Well, you know as we all say that no two days are ever really the same when you are an entrepreneur or self employed I guess, but, I do have some kind of routine that is instilled in me. Usually around 7am I am up ready and projecting both Critics Clothing and BEYOUROWN out into the stratosphere across all social media platforms.
I scan over my emails and agenda for the day & I prefer not to read any SMS/group WhatsApp messages before 12ish. From the afternoon onwards I am between Critics Clothing and BEYOUROWN, maybe reading through interviews or looking at press or sampling from the design team, it can really vary.
I try to eat before it gets too late, maybe around 5pm or 6.30pm as I don’t like to sleep on food unless I am out for dinner. Then I tie up most loose ends and prepare my self for the next day around 10 or 11pm. I am not very often asleep before 2am as I am a very light sleeper but I do have cartoons or a film on in the background to fall asleep to.
What was your background prior to Critics Clothing, what was you doing or where was you working?
I was born in Cambridge but I grew up in a small town in Lincolnshire, which is the north of the UK which is a little different from London. Where I live now. My entrepreneurial streak was always encouraged by my grandparents and father when I began working as a pot washer in a local cafe and set up a car-boot sale every weekend to earn extra money. I also set up a car cleaning business at 15 out of boredom when I moved to Kent for a year. I was always moving from place to place and school to school due to my fathers work contracts and I always found it took a lot of energy to keep making new friends again. Any way, I finished school, dropped out of a few courses at college then went on to do many different jobs alongside some part time commercial modelling. I had no degree, just a degree of early life or what it felt like I guess.
At that time, at 20 I was interested in pursuing a career as TV presenter so that is why I originally moved to London, it wasn’t to work in fashion. However, I had this spark inside me that made me want to build my own empire, again not in fashion, not really in anything specific at that moment. So it wasn’t until after something caught my eye on a car rally that I was booked to present on back in 2010, that I was really inspired to start a fashion label. I launched Critics Clothing in the late 2012 but it wasn’t really until 2014 that it was popularised. The rest is history!
Can you take us on the journey right from the start with Critics Clothing?
As I said, I wanted to build an empire, an empire of what I wasn’t even sure of myself. To me an empire is somewhere I can feel safe, have freedom, with the ability to do what I love doing and earning a living from something I felt passionate about, and I am still very much very transparent about that. I liked the idea of creating something people could connect with, understand and to be part of the lifestyle built within it. So I started gathering designs and ideas together and drawing inspiration from what I really felt was what the brand stood for. Then I launched my brand as Critics Clothing and it started taking off and slowly people became fascinated with it.
BEYOUROWN has since launched, can you tell us what the incentive was?
With BEYOUROWN, originally it started off as a kind of a movement and slogan off of the back of Critics Clothing. It wasn’t really until early 2016 that I actually considered it as an outlet or platform as such that you see it as today. At 22 when I first launched Critics Clothing, I didn’t have a mentor or a big support network and I had to figure out a lot on my own, which was pretty tough. People’s success stories and personal journeys are often a lot different to how you think they are or how they should be. I know first hand that starting any business is hard but what can make it all the more easier is if you have a support network around you. BEYOUROWN is a place of positivity, a place for others to learn, connect, and, or contribute. I now hope to continue growing a community of strong, intellectual smart women.
Where do you intend to go with it?
The beauty of it is that everything I am doing with BEYOUROWN I want to do completely unorthodox, just like Critics Clothing. I have never believed in following a direct set of rules. I believe it takes a little bit more than a copy & paste method applied without considering if it is actually going to work for me, I am still figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
Have you ever had a mentor?
Not as such.Though I have met a lot of great people along the way who have been great at helping me grow Critics Clothing. I actually have a really great team around me which is still small but has a real company culture since we all share the same vision. I think it is really awesome when you can get together with likeminded ambitious people and pass idea’s around. Sharing ideas, concepts and listening to other peoples thought process has always been fascinating to me.
How do you think mentors can really help new founders and CEO’s?
Absolutely, I think they can be super beneficial to new founders and first time CEOs. I have never had one to be able to speak from first hand experience, but what I do know is that I wouldn’t have made some of the mistakes I did when I started out had I of had a mentor. It is a catch 22 situation, I believe you need those costly mistakes in order to grow, I think learning how to pick yourself up when things don’t go according to plan force you to build the resilience you need as an entrepreneur, it really forces you to not give up and to keep going no matter the outcome.At the same time, no one really wants to make mistakes intentionally.
What has been the hardest challenge you have faced so far?
Well, I am not patient enough and that is a really big deal for me. I always want things done yesterday. I have felt things were not moving as fast as I would have liked, but thats really nothing in comparison to what challenges some other people are faced with whilst building their business’s. Taking it back to 2014, knowing what direction I wanted to take Critics Clothing in and being sure about the strategy and the DNA of the brand was an obstacle I was once met with.
How do you manage your personal time?
I am really organised, even if I do struggle with my tardiness. I get really overwhelmed if last minute plans are thrown in without being properly scheduled in my calendar. Sounds lame and a bit mechanical, but it’s how I keep on top of things. Sunday is a really special day for me, it’s really important for me to use that day to switch off and disconnect from the internet and digital space.
Usually I do a lot of hiking, visiting museums or art galleries or getting coffee and sitting in the park reading or writing just to have space on my own. Sunday is the perfect day to ring family and friends that I care about which result in marathon phone call conversations, as we all know or will discover down the line, it can become harder to stay in touch with people when time passes by and you get busier.
Most rewarding moment?
Of course hitting the Forbes 30 under 30 list is a really great achievement. I cant really say there has been one real pinnacle point though, I think sitting where I am today actually is super satisfying, of course in the most non-complacent way.
What can we expect in 2018?
Oh! That’s a sneaky one! Some more magic in the making!
Lastly, what does it mean to really #BEYOUROWN?
Literally, ‘be your own’ in every which way you can.
Twitter: @samanahduran | Instagram @samanahduran