Samanah Duran is a British fashion designer and entrepreneur. Her fierce emphasis on inspiring each individual to embrace their identity and to take pride in their individuality is perfectly presented in her vision in her innovative clothing line, Critics Clothing, which was revolutionized through the crafting of indulgent streetwear with the power to evoke self-expression, reminiscent of other streetwear brands like Vessi shoes. There is a beautiful marriage between form, function, and kick-ass expression.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
From a young age, I always had this strong sense of independence. I wasn’t a troublesome kid or rebellious in any way. I just always had this need to want to earn my own my money whether it be from cleaning chores or part time jobs when I was at school.
As time went on, after starting many side hustles like most entrepreneurs and doing almost what felt like every job on the planet, I figured I wanted to build an empire for myself. An empire of what I wasn’t even sure of myself. I just liked the idea of creating something people could connect with and feel great whilst wearing. Then Critics Clothing was born. Then in 2016 BEYOUROWN was launched off the back of that.
Tell us about your business.
- Critics Clothing is a luxury streetwear brand developed and designed by myself in 2012, even though it wasn’t popularized until 2014 after rebranding and relaunching. Critics Clothing accurately conveys a powerful message to take pride in your identity, demonstrated through an intricate blend of simplistic and traditional but assertive styles.
- BEYOUROWN is a digital media and news company dedicated to inspiring young women in business. Led by myself, BEYOUROWN helps empower and support young women that are passionate about changing lives. Worldwide leading ladies use the BEYOUROWN platform to tell their stories, offer advice and share their knowledge, covering topics such as Business, Music & Media, Science, Tech & Art and Sports.
Most recently I was listed on Forbes 30 under 30 in the retail category which will always feel really great knowing that what I have created is well received.
Where are both your business’s based?
In the UK, both main HQ’s are in Norwich.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
The first few steps was getting my company registered and incorporated, mainly legal and trademarking. I am a very unorthodox person, but am always transparent with everything I do. Everything I have done has been through a process of trial and error, figuring out what worked and what didn’t. Even now, I am still learning.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
The most effective way has been implementing a strong marketing strategy. Social media is really great for ensuring people will get to hear about your business. My thought process whilst growing Critics Clothing has always been about making sure people know that my brand exists.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
I would have to say, that being absolutely sure about my brand’s direction was initially an obstacle. I had to measure my audience and my demographics constantly to know what the best pricing structure would be, and make sure the brand’s DNA and ethos really matched my intentions for Critics Clothing. It was a question of whether I wanted to do more wholesale and dilute the exclusivity or to continue maintaining full control over our own online space.
How did you overcome these challenges?
It was a case of measuring and testing the market over and over again. Changing the prices, altering the quantity of how much was produced in certain styles etc. It really was down to trial and error.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I have this amazing portfolio book that I have kept since day one. I purposely documented all of Critics Clothing press cuttings and pictures in there so that when times get a bit heavy, I can open it up and remind myself why I am still doing what I am doing. I also have a great team around me, 80-90% of them I’ve had since day one, so I think that’s pretty awesome.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
You know, I really don’t tend to look at what anyone else is doing. It would be naive of me to say that I haven’t ever researched what methods other retail brands have applied to make them successful, but each and every brand has its own secret sauce. You cannot copy and paste that. I do what I feel is best suited for Critics Clothing, that is how I distinguish and differentiate.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
I don’t think it was meant to be advice, but I was told most recently to keep on smiling.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
“Be authentic to yourself. You owe it to yourself to be unapologetically you.”
What are your favourite business tools/resources and why?
There is a great app I use called Evernote and also a project management program called OmniPlan that is great for organizing and maintaining projects. I also go to Waterstones book store nearly every other weekend, just because I am a massive fan of reading and I love to see what new books come out on the market.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
“Money” by Rob Moore.
What are you currently learning about in business?
I am interested in Bitcoin and how this digital currency works in todays economy.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Goals and milestones are continuously set, but I am more interested in leaping into the unknown and taking a risk whatever the consequence.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Instagram @samanahduran, @criticsclothing
Twitter @samanahduran, @criticsclothing
Hashtags #criticsclothing #criticsclothingusa #BEYOUROWN