After an exciting week full of insightful talks and discussions, it is safe to say that our FTA winners are leaving London with more than a head filled with memorable moments. This week has given our striving designers an opportunity to prepare to pursue their dreams, ambitions and aspirations. The two-day mentorship with Bidayat has come to an end and we cannot wait to tell you all about it.

“We are very grateful to have partnered with Bidayat on this incredible mentorship program in London, our current and previous community of winners have gained insights on some of the most important topics in the industry today, including sustainability and inclusivity, business planning, factory sourcing, luxury consumerism and team performance. I am confident the designers will benefit tremendously from it and will build their future brand strategies and develop their businesses further,” says Tania Fares, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of FTA.

At the beginning of yesterday’s sessions, our designers were asked to warm up with an elevator pitch exercise overseen by the mentors. It was clear that the designers were changing their approach as they became more aware of the business side of fashion. Questions poured out of them yesterday morning and the enthusiasm in the conference room did more to lift the spirits than the cup of coffee we had at breakfast.

“Bidayat did something incredible for FTA winners by focusing on the educational component. To me this has been immensely valuable, because it is my belief that knowledge is power,” says Daki Marouf, Managing director and Co-Founder of Sabry Marouf, FTA Prize 2019 winner (Accessories).

Point of view and values

The first thing on the schedule was a talk with entrepreneur and business leader Angela Farrugia. The expert introduced new ways of looking at brands as businesses. In order to succeed, one must perceive themselves as the CEO, the Founder and the Creative Director of their own brand and should always combine their personal point of view with their values, said Farrugia. In order for a company to invest in a brand they should be able to understand the story-telling and the narrative behind the designs, campaigns and artwork, she said.

Later, the designers were presented with a new take on the meaning of marketing with a session mentored by branding and strategy consultant Michael Edelmann. The expert emphasized the importance of creating awareness and encouraging experimentation within one’s business. In order to have a more engaging brand, Edelmann suggested to always have direct interaction with the customer and to think beyond the sale. One of the key takes was that paid social ads no longer provide as clear a path to growth, however they should still be part of the marketing mix.

When it comes to social media, Alison Briggé, the Chief Marketing Officer at Launchmetrics, initiated the conversation by saying that social media was crucial for an evolving business. Briggé believes that the brand is the most valuable financial asset of fashion, luxury and beauty companies. For a brand to stay relevant, they need to bring newsworthy names to their posts and feeds in order to generate an echo.

Narrative and stories

Another interesting topic was covered by NFT expert Fahim Fadl. For the first time it was clear that the people in the room were finally able to grasp how NFTs and the Metaverse work (myself included). To sum it up, the metaverse is technically the Internet as we know it, except it offers different interactions between the user and the technology.

Founder and CEO of 822 group, Mory Fontanez, highlighted the benefits of intuitive leadership by explaining that a business should be based in the present moment and that intuition comes from wisdom and forward movement.

Creative Strategist Andrea Batilla and Sara Maino, Head of Special Projects at Vogue Italia, held a compelling lecture and discussion on the significance of brand narrative and story-telling. One of the key takeaways was that brand narrative is built on one’s own perceptions and visions, whereas the brand’s identity comes from authenticity. “You need to put a personal side of you in your work,” said Maino.

In some ways, it is like telling a large story through a small one. For a designer to be able to portray a story, whether it is personal or general in nature, the audience should be able to associate themselves with the brand and feel included.

When it comes to campaigns and fashion shows, designers and creative directors are put in the spotlight and these represent their true moment to shine. How they wish to tell their narrative and stories will affect the brand’s image for a couple of seasons, at least. “Fashion is a strong industry as it brings together the heritage of a brand,” said Batilla.

The narrative could include anything that crosses one’s mind, however it is essential to accompany images with well-considered words. However, an image or video should be able to tell a story even if there is no text to explicitly describe the narrative of the brand.

This week has given our designers the opportunity to learn and grow into the entrepreneurs they seek to be. We can’t wait to see what they do.