Coco Business Inspiration : Minza Khan

This summer something exciting is coming to the luxury fashion industry. Be prepared for Minza, a handmade, socially responsible brand that will produce the best clutch bags you will have seen in a long time. Believe us when we say this, your inner magpie is going to be VERY happy! 

Founded by Minza Khan, a #girlboss that is definitely one to watch, the designs are South Asian and will be available for shipping worldwide. Winning! 

Ahead of the official launch this summer, Minza took some time out to speak to us at House of Coco and tells us more about the plans for the brand, how she juggles her social and business life and so much more…

Can you tell us a bit about your brand and your journey to getting where you are today?
After working in the media industry with a journalism and fashion background, I wanted to utilise my creative skills to innovate and create something fabulous. Growing up, I painted, drew and designed clothing for as long as I can remember. I give my husband a lot of credit for motivating me to pursue this business and to challenge myself to realise my fullest potential.

Of all things, why clutches? I noticed a void in the market for quality, handmade, clutches that incorporate eastern and western elements. The clutches need to have enough presence to be a standout piece in your wardrobe but elegant enough to carry on your wedding day. I noticed that most stores didn’t sell such handbags when I looked for clutches for my wedding and later my sisters’ wedding. I didn’t want a basic clutch, I wanted one with a “wow” factor, one where you knew artistic thought was put into it.

Our brand focuses on three main things:  escapism, ethereal elements, and social responsibility. We aim to create handbags that are a work of art. The handbags should take you to another place. Our handbags are everything but boring. Our designs are a mix of eastern architecture with western silhouettes. I was born and raised in the US with a Pakistani background. Every time we visited Pakistan, I remember being mesmerised by the unique threadwork, vibrant fabric and intricate truck art. We place a significant importance on creating a safe working environment with fair wages for our artisans. Additionally, each month we will donate a percentage of our sales to a notable cause to help improve the livelihood of less fortunate members of our society.

What has been your highlight since launching the brand?
The positive response and reaction to our handbags, specifically on our Instagram page!  We received inquiries from around the world, we were featured by well-followed Instagram accounts, and we were mentioned in several well-known magazines. It’s all very exciting! It’s very important to enjoy each step of the journey.

Who is involved in the business?
Right now it’s pretty much a one-man-show when it comes to running the business. I have a couple of consultants who have helped me with branding and packaging. Our manufactures are located in Southeast Asia, India and Pakistan to be specific. Our talented artisans are essential to the success of this brand. Their attention to detail is phenomenal! The beauty of their handwork is breathtakingly ornate. We plan to hire employees as the company continues to grow.

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What product has been your best seller?
We plan to launch in the summer of 2016.  Currently, our followers have shown the greatest interest in handbags that incorporate unique colours. I assumed most of our customers would prefer neutral colours that work with every outfit, but we learn more about our customers as we grow. The women who choose Minza tend to be vibrant, fashion-forward and not afraid to get noticed. They can be from 10 to 100 years old but they have the same underlying character.

Describe the brand in 3 words?
Escapist, ethereal, and socially responsible

Tell us what a typical day in your life looks like?
I start my day by checking my email. I’m constantly communicating with our manufacturers to ensure the quality of our handbags. Since most of them are overseas, I end up on the phone or on my laptop at odd hours. Next, I go through our social media accounts to understand what our customers care about. Whenever I’m inspired I jot it down.  Eventually, all of these little notes inspire my next design.

How do you juggle work and social life?
I try to limit work on weekends to spend time with my husband and my family. However, I find it really tough to keep myself from checking email and staying up to date on the progress of this business.  However, I believe it is important to balance work, family and friendships.

You are obviously a creative person, when your creativity is lacking what do you do to get it back?
Thank you! Designers definitely hit roadblocks when it seems that nothing is good enough for your customer. I believe that everything inspires creativity. I’m lucky to live in a vibrant city where there’s inspiration everywhere you look. Just walking around the city is an amazing way to get that creativity back. Inspiration is everywhere; don’t ever limit yourself; the possibilities are endless!

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What sets your range apart from anything else that is currently on the market?
We are everything but basic. Every design is a piece of art handmade by our talented artisans.

Who/what inspires you?
I am inspired by the elegant pieces of work from leading designers such as Marchesa, Ellie Saab, Dolce and Gabbana, Chanel and the work-ethic, humility, and ambition of designers like Tory Burch and Kendra Scott. I love learning about these incredible brands and the designers who create artistic pieces of work, give back to society, inspire and motivate young designers like me to follow their great legacies.

As far as design, my designs are heavily inspired by eastern architecture and western silhouettes. I incorporate Moroccan lanterns, Mughal palaces, mirror work and mosaics to create timeless pieces.

Are there any sources you go for support with running your business?
Yes, I turn to my husband for financial advice and my parents for emotional support.

What are your plans for the brand in 2016?
We plan to officially launch this summer, so there is a lot of work to do! We need to finalise our first collection, launch our website and market our brand.  We really hope 2016 treats us well and allows us to expand into new retail channels such as department stores (Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, etc.), specialty retailers (Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, etc.) and specialty boutiques.

Are there plans to expand outside the world of bags?
As a startup brand we want to focus on minaudieres or clutches and branch out to other handbags. We would love to eventually branch out into shoes, jewellery and clothing.

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At House of Coco we love to travel, tell us about your favourite place on the planet?
That’s a tough one! There are way too many places that I have fallen in love with. Every place has its own charm. To me an ideal place is somewhere that has fabulous cuisine, unique culture, great weather, amazing architecture and great people. That place for me is Bali. The flight from New York to Bali is 22 hours, which is ridiculous but it’s worth it.

If there’s one business owning activity you could get better at, what would it be?
Managing my finances! One thing you learn quickly is that managing capital is essential to running a successful business. Yes, you may have some great ideas but do you have the budget to execute them? Luckily my husband works in finance so I get some help.  However, when you are running a business you need to account for everything. Get Quickbooks, scan your receipts, prepare a business plan in Excel and stay organised.

For others aspiring to run their own company, what advice would you give?
If you love what you do and you are passionate then you will not regret it. A lot of small business owners give up because the journey isn’t easy. It’s essential that you are infatuated with your product. You have to love your brand, your products, and your brand’s philosophy. You need to be driven and stay on top of things to become and stay relevant, whether it be the design of your products, the way your social media is handled, the way your website looks, how fast your customers receive your product etc. It’s all about the hustle. If you know or are inspired by entrepreneurs from the same genre of business you’re starting, then listen to what they have to say about it. They’ve been through the same journey you are beginning. I guarantee you’ll pick up some useful advise.

minzakhan.com

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