When Kenza Fourati and Simone Carrica, childhood mates from Tunisia and co-founders of Osay, reconnected in New York after years of following their particular person paths within the trend trade, they found a shared nostalgia for his or her house nation and a robust sentiment of accountable actions throughout the trend group.
Fourati, a world acknowledged trend mannequin and one of many first Arab Muslim girls to grace the quilt of Sports Illustrated, has been a continuing and prolific speaker of girls’s rights and a free speech advocate as a supporter of Human Rights Watch in Tunisia. As a member of the Model Alliance and Model Mafia, she has used her affect and voice to advertise safety and security within the work setting and equitable remedy of fashions throughout the trend trade.
Carrica, who attended EDC Business School in Paris, held quite a few ahead going through roles inside international trend corporations corresponding to BCBG Max Azria and Catherine Malandrino, earlier than launching her first enterprise of Lost Candor, a house items firm, the place she labored with Tunisian artists to supply luxurious house decor. As an avid entrepreneur, she created and hosted quite a few cultural occasions celebrating Tunisian artistry and craftsmanship on the Alliance Francaise Institute in New York.
It was at one in all these occasions the place the childhood mates reconnected and hatched an thought to create a market the place they might spotlight the workmanship and finesse of Tunisian craftsmanship, whereas offering merchandise that will fulfill their core values of accountable manufacturing and affordability in luxurious items.
“We felt strongly that there had to be a way to consume differently, with more integrity, purpose, conscience, empathy, compassion, and soul. But we struggled to find brands that accurately represented who we were as women, reflected our values, and we could afford,” says Carrica.
Osay launched in 2018, initially as a touring pop up bazaar, promoting a wide range of luxurious, socially minded Tunisian merchandise to US shoppers who had an eye fixed for top finish international merchandise. For Fourati and Carrica, it was a possibility to have a good time the creativity and heritage craftsmanship of Tunisian artisans whereas connecting with their shoppers, and studying their shopping for behaviors. In the intimate setting of the pop ups, the founders have been capable of construct a group of like minded shoppers who appreciated high quality items that might be included into their busy each day lives. This proved useful through the pandemic when their enterprise continued to develop through the peak of lockdown.
On one of many shopping for journeys to Tunisia, the companions have been launched to a household owned atelier who holds an ancestral lineage of hand making footwear.
In collaboration with the atelier’s proprietor, Moex Ben Fradj, and Master Artisan, Mansour Hosni, Fourati and Carrica refocused Osay from a pop up bazaar right into a shoe model, launching with the traditional Middle Eastern/North African slipper, La Babouche. The slipper, an ubiquitous image of each day life, was designed from their signature silhouette, a slide-in flat shoe, which may be worn as a idler or, with a fold down heel function, worn as a slipper.
The leathers used for the footwear are remnants from earlier seasons and extra materials from luxurious homes, which highlights the brief run of every fabrication. During the design course of, the slipper was modernized with a reminiscence foam cushioned sole giving it a consolation stage for all day put on. With the optionality of carrying the heel up or down, La Babouche retains its cultural heritage whereas embracing each conceivable city utilization of the fashionable day flat. Designed to transition from day into night, it’s the stylish “elevated basic” that matches a girl’s busy life.
Osay, an acronym for Our Stories Are Yours, prides itself on their product providing and their shared messaging of commonality. With a group minded narrative, Osay strives to have a good time international working girls, and to attach with them via shared experiences of the roles girls play; motherhood, sisterhood, daughters, companions, and dealing professionals. And in sharing Osay’s origin story in addition to their very own journeys, of childhoods in Tunisia to globe trotting professionals working within the highest echelons of the style trade, Fourati and Carrica, each Arabic and Muslim girls, hope to reshape the narrative of their heritage.
Since launching in 2019 as a shoe model, their largest market has been the US to date. With the pandemic, the founders switched to a Direct to Consumer mannequin and launched a publication to proceed to interact with their prospects. With repeat prospects shopping for for multi-generational girls of their households, their low return fee of 4% speaks to their shut reference to their shoppers and their private contact level with the merchandise and the enterprise. Osay’s DTC mannequin additionally permits the founders to have meticulous oversight within the design course of whereas holding the prices low.
“We didn’t want to be just another fashion brand. We wanted to make products with the highest quality materials and handmade craftsmanship, but still at an attainable price,” says Fourati.
Osay’s subsequent steps are to give attention to development and innovation. The founders have been experimenting with concepts of alternate sustainable supplies corresponding to rubber, fish leather-based, and recycled shaved wool, the place the sheep will stay unhurt. They’ve just lately launched a mode for males and can proceed to develop the enterprise with Carrica relocating to Paris to develop the European market.
With the world opening up, Fourati and Carrica are contemplating attainable investments into advertising and marketing and public relations, however stay steadfast in frequently partaking with their prospects via a shared tradition of storytelling.
“ We named it Osay, because we truly believe that social empathy, and walking a mile in someone else’s shoes is the key to human thriving,” say Fourati and Carrica.
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