Rihan Fahmy’s fashion sense is a reflection of her personality, both glamorous and energetic. And she is keen to spread her style to other fashionable women. Through her retail outlet, Chichi Wagon, and with her panache and business sense, she is taking the fashion retail scene in Egypt by storm.
Fahmy’s journey into fashion began when she was a teenager. “In my early teen years, I took an etiquette course, with Shirley Shalaby. She noticed that I had what it took to be a model. This piqued my interest because I had always been interested in fashion,” she recalls. Soon after, Shalaby would approach her to fill in for a model at the last minute. On the runway, Fahmy received much attention for her poise and style. “That was when I was certain that I had a passion for fashion. Modeling helped me with my confidence and sense of style,” she explains.
A few years later, she would stumble upon an opportunity that would set in motion her journey to becoming a fashion entrepreneur. “I was almost 21 when I traveled with my parents to Turkey, where I noticed that they had so many new and different fashion styles from the ones we had back home. I borrowed some money from my mom, who was very supportive, to buy a few pieces and sell them to my friends in Egypt. A couple of years later, after I was married, I opened a boutique, Soho, with my best friend. We traveled the world to hunt down the latest trends and bring them to our customers in Egypt. It was a huge success,” she proudly states.
Then came the revolution in 2011 and Fahmy’s plans were put on hold, as Soho had to fold due to economic instability. Eventually, her best friend went on to start her own line, but Fahmy was determined to follow her dreams and to persevere with retail. “I already had loyal clients, so I decided I would just reinvent myself. This is how I came up with Chichi Wagon. The previous store mainly had French brands, while this one has more diverse selections from many countries,” she says.
The word about Chichi Wagon spread like wildfire. Its popularity can be attributed to Fahmy’s business savvy and flair. The idea was to put together a collection that suits all tastes, where clients can shop without breaking the bank, a smart move considering the economic situation in the country. According to her, “It’s not about high-end designers anymore; it’s about finding items that are fun, fresh and fashionable. I started by targeting millennials, but found that my collections attract women of all age groups.” In doing so, she has changed the way people perceive fashion.
Fahmy has a simple method for choosing her highly sought-after items. She started with the websites where she used to do her online shopping. She then traveled to California to visit their showrooms and was able to use her business skills to convince them to supply her with garments at wholesale prices. Whatever the expenses, she is adamant to sell items for a price that is as close as possible to online shopping websites.
When it comes to promotion, no one does it quite as well as Fahmy. “I do a few pop-up events each season, and there are two stores in the North Coast, one in Hacienda and one in Lake Yard, where I sell my collection during the summer season,” she enthuses. But what makes her store unique is how inclusive it is. She tries to choose garments that would suit different body types, skin tones and styles. She also includes items to suit every occasion, from a day at the beach to a fancy wedding.
Fahmy pays painstaking attention to every detail. According to her, “Fashion is a form of art. What you wear can transform your appearance and boost your confidence. Your clothes could affect your mood for the whole day. When you dress in something that’s flattering and you feel comfortable in it, you feel so positive and this affects how people perceive you.” Perhaps this is why she doesn’t plan to veer away from the fashion industry anytime soon. As she puts it, “It’s a lot of fun and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.” She does hope to expand her business when the economy picks up and open a quaint concept store with her husband, a brilliant interior designer. “I can sell clothes and he can sell furniture and paintings,” she gushes.
Fahmy gives styling tips to her customers when prompted, but her most important tip is, “to stop following trends blindly. Every trend doesn’t work for everyone. You must be mindful of your fashion choices to present yourself in the best way.”
Because Fahmy only gets two sizes of each item, her collections are sold out quickly. “I keep my Instagram updated so people can keep track of the activity. I always try to participate in events with other people who sell fashion items as well. It makes the event better. We all support each other. The more, the merrier,” she states enthusiastically.
You can catch Rihan Fahmy’s second summer collection this month in the North Coast.