Tarhati shop window
Rayyan Jamjoom, a Young Creative Entrepreneur in Saudi Arabia, writes about his unique clothing business, Tarhati, and the opportunities presented by the British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur Fashion and Design Awards.
In Saudi Arabia, 99% of veils are black. I wanted to enter this niche market and try to convert people towards coloured veils and scarves. At Tarhati, we believe that being a veiled lady doesn’t mean you have to wear black; you can be stylish, fashionable and feel confident wearing other colours.
I studied Marketing at the King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia and then joined Unilever in 2008. During this time I started Tarhati – meaning ‘my scarf’. In 2009, the first Tarhati shop was launched and in June 2012 a second, larger store was opened.
For reasons of culture and tradition people are resistant to transferring from black to coloured scarves and veils, which has been a challenge – it is a very controversial subject in Saudi Arabia. But there is a big market and we see a great opportunity in the region and also in Europe.
Our veil line is split into two. We have one casual, day-to-day line, where the main fabric is cotton and plain colours are used. The other is an exclusive line, where we produce one piece per design – we have more than 4000 different designs per collection. In addition to scarves, we now also have an exclusive line of modern and conservative dresses (and by conservative I mean less skin and more fabric) in order to cater to the society and cultural needs of Saudi Arabia.
When the Young Creative Entrepreneur competition was announced, I was really keen to take part, and now having won and been invited to London I can really see what possibilities could emerge. I’m so grateful to the British Council for this.
I think the international exposure to different creative entrepreneurs from all over the world who are all majoring in fashion and design is really valuable. Being part of London Fashion Week is extremely inspiring, and of course chatting with investors here and there will definitely give me a good opportunity to take Tarhati forward, from being a local project to being a regional and international project some day.
I’m also so excited to be meeting Paul Smith. I’m fascinated with his story and am looking forward to asking him lots of questions! Since the beginning, he’s been a real entrepreneur.
The trip to London has given me a great chance to undertake some market visits to assess the potential for Tarhati in Europe (using London as a small sample). The Muslim population in Europe represents a big opportunity for Tarhati. Being in London, being exposed to this market, finding out more about the pricing strategy and looking at other brands and competitors will help me a lot.