This week we are featuring the Founder, Mona Alhaddad, and CEO, Loai Nassem, of International Clothing Brand LOMAR, who recently hosted events in Arizona. Fed up with the shapeless, uniform dress required for business and social occasions, Nassem set his sights on creating more trendy options for Arab men. He transformed Saudi dress to include vibrant colors and innovative materials – like nanotechnology cooling and Bluetooth sound features. Read more about Loai and Mona…
Hometown: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
LN: I was the Creative Director at an advertising agency in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I spent eight years there before moving from advertising to fashion. It was by coincidence that I made the move from industry after being forced to wear the warm clothing. It was revolutionary what we did. So we thought, let’s do something with the redesigning of the thobe. I used my communication field to create a fashion brand for a field that was still new and that’s how we grew.
MA: I tried to get a job in business, but couldn’t find a job. So instead, we started a business from our home.
Person who has impacted your life the most:
LN: Of course, my wife. She was beside me from day one. She’s the one who pushed me every time I failed. She played a major role in my life and my career’s success. Also, my parents—they helped me find my way. When I failed in school before I got married, my father said, “You failed today but tomorrow you will not fail. Don’t fear failing.” This was a lesson I learned; failing is nothing bad, don’t be afraid. If you keep the fear inside you, you’ll never move because you’re afraid. Also, my mother inspired me with her fashion workshop. I drew designs for her as a teenager. Twenty years later, I got into this business without ever knowing then what it would become. It was at 24 that I discovered that my hobby could become a career.
Your biggest accomplishment in your eyes:
LN: Changing the rules in Saudi Arabia and making a revolution through the LOMAR brand is what makes us proud. And being here in the US and talking about the brand is amazing.
The biggest obstacle you have overcome:
LN: The biggest obstacle was overcoming the entire society in the beginning, and their resistance and making fun of us. Reading articles written about us in a negative way was difficult – especially coming from our friends and family. It took them 7-8 years to be on board. Really, it was four years after the opening of our first store they started changing. It took my own brother four years to even wear LOMAR. People are conservative and don’t want to change. They thought we were only going to last two to three years and then fail. But then when they saw people wearing it, they wore it, too.
MA: The more people told us no, the stronger I felt and the more I wanted to continue and not stop.
Someone who inspires you:
LN: Not someone but something. I get inspired by everything around me. Wherever I go, whatever I see. Even when I’m dreaming sometimes, I wake up and get an idea. It’s the spirit around me. I grab ideas from air, it’s my magnetic ability. In Arizona, I am inspired by these tall greenish grey trees—the tree branches look like reindeer horns. I might do an embroidery design out of this, like a tattoo on the thobe or on a wedding dress, in a luxurious style.
LN: I have my own quote – “dream big, start small.”
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do:
LN: Work with a designer or workshop for several years to discover your interest, then do your own. Don’t go from fashion school to creating your own big thing. Go discover what you like and then start something of your own.
What makes someone fabulous:
LN: I would say – simplicity.