She opened her own boutique this year on Monot Street in Beirut and it's a totally adorable little spot. We went over and took some pics for those of you who are interested to visit sometime soon. We also asked her 10 interview questions about her studies at Central St. Martins in London, why she came back to Beirut, and who the ideal woman is she sees wearing her brand.
Enjoy discovering Timi Hayek.
Timi Hayek: The Store
A quick look inside Timi Hayek's beautiful little store on Monot Street.
Timi Hayek: The Designer
Getting to know Timi Hayek a little better.
1. We know you have a very interesting background; can you tell everyone a little about yourself? What got you into fashion? How did you start off your career and how did you end up with your own store?
I always drew, ever since I was a kid. I would always draw women in clothes dancing, or accessories, and it was a no-brainer for me to do fashion because I wanted to do something useful and artistic at the same time. So after high school I applied to St. Martins in London, which was a roller coaster. My year was very lucky because we were the ones that got to experience the old buildings which were next to the super vibrant Soho area. It was most prominent for its gay scene and all the pubs and artsy stores – just a crazy, different vibe. So I did Fashion Print for four years. The downside of university was that they didn’t at all expose us to the business side of fashion. It was purely artistic and creative which at the time was awesome, but after graduation I found myself a little lost.
I came back to Lebanon mainly because I wasn’t convinced of going back to London, unless I was able to get a really great position somewhere, which I didn’t. So I came back and I worked with Bokja Design until they recommended I apply to Starch, which I did and I got in. Starch is really amazing but also super random; no one really teaches you anything they just give you tasks and you just have to make do with whatever you’ve got. They mentor you throughout the year and they give you a space to sell your clothes and you also get two runways shows in Dubai and a lot of exposure.
2. So how did that transition to you opening your own store?
Starch was a little push, like when you’re scared and you just don’t want to do something then someone just comes and gives you a nice push. Everything falls into place sometimes. After Starch I needed a place to work and sell my clothes and it made sense to open my own store.
However, I’m not at the same pace as the fashion industry. For example now I’m still working on my winter collection, which will be ready when winter comes. When you look outside and its cold and rainy and depressing you will start seeing clothes suitable for that weather. But now we’re all still sweaty and hot so I sell summer clothes. This model doesn’t work for buyers, because they like buy way before so I’m just kind of doing my own thing; very organic, and hands on.
3. We noticed there is quite a stark difference from your St. Martins collection and your current one. What do you acknowledge that change to?
I guess I just adapt to the environments. For example in Lebanon I buy fabrics that are available, and at the same time think of what I’d like to wear. So it’s like a combination of what I’d like to wear and what’s available here. Whereas in London the mindset was much more theatrical; like an artist in their own world creating something that’s not very realistic. London wasn’t something that was made to be worn everyday whereas this is much more practical. Most of the clothes I make are inspired by wedding clothes that I would want to wear at weddings.
4. How do you begin to dream up a collection? Where do you draw inspiration from and how do you turn that into your collection?
I always no matter what get inspired by the fabric I see or buy, and this is something I’ve had to become self-aware of. That is always my starting point and everything else kind of weaves itself in; whether it’s a different cut, or a fabric combination etc. I always buy the fabric first and I look at it and I just think: ‘what the hell should I do with this.’
5. What is the biggest challenge you have faced as an up-and-coming designer in Lebanon, and have you overcome it?
Oh my god so many challenges. For example, when I buy fabric, and then go back to buy that fabric, they don’t have it anymore. That just drives me crazy. Another thing is language; it’s very hard for me to communicate in Arabic accurately. In terms of the store, I was very lucky to have my mom here to orchestrate the whole thing. She’s like a tough little sweet Lebanese woman that everyone is scared of. She has an iron fist and she will make things happen, especially here, because in Beirut you have to always be on top of it and make it seem like it’s the most important thing. I can’t do that. I’m not an imposing person, I’m super easy going and too nice, and I wouldn’t have been able to get people to get things done.
6. Is there any advice you’d give to new designers in Beirut?
I still feel like I am an aspiring designer. I don’t think opening a shop means I’m established, it just means I’m allowed to have a space to sell my clothes, that I’m lucky enough. I’m still not completely fully formed, I’m still learning. I actually just ordered a book to help me with the business side of fashion. I really don’t think I’m in a place to give other people advice yet.
7. Tell us some of your all-time favorites: designers, artists, books, bands, movies.
Favorite Designers: Simone Rocha, Victoria Beckham – I just take snapshots of things I really like and apparently right now they are what I’m loving. Also some of my classmates from St. Martins: Nafsika Skourti, Irina Gusakova.
Favorite Bands: I don’t really learn the names of bands and songs. I have this app called Hypemachine and I just favorite tracks I like and just listen to those.
Favorite Movies: Lord of the Rings. It’s amazing. I got into it recently because I love the whole fantasy world, like Harry Potter is my favorite thing. And I had kind of run out of my Harry Potter limit, as in of how much you can love something, so I needed a new obsession.
8. Each district in Beirut is characterized with its own culture. What is it about the culture in Monot that attracted you how does it relate to your brand? Would you classify it as a shopping district?
Monot is a very chilled out space where people want to have dinner. People mostly notice my store when they’re taking a walk after dinner, which is cool. But there’s a new museum, Beit Beirut, opening up next to me which is the most perfect thing because I love museums. If there’s one thing I want next to me it’s a museum.
9. Can you describe the woman you imagine wearing the Timi Hayek brand?
Someone who is comfortable in their own skin. At the end of the day the clothes I make are me, what I’d want to wear. I don’t know how selfish it is to say I just make clothes for myself but it really is about comfort at the end of the day. Flattering, comfortable, good quality clothes.
10. What’s your vision for Timi Hayek? Which cities do you see your brand thriving in and why?
Unless I start doing prints again, I don’t really see myself expanding; as in making something and selling it everywhere, because it’s easier to do that. In terms of my clothes-making, I feel I’m very adaptable. Like right now, I’m in Beirut, so I make clothes for Beirut and the Middle East. It really depends on the city I’m in. For example if I open in London I’ll make clothes for London; whatever London demands at that time. I’m super into what I’m doing now but I tend not to think about what I’ll be doing in the future. I sort of just do whatever it is I’m doing now and see what happens.
Visit the Store
Address: Hayek Building, Top of Monot Street, Achrafieh, Beirut Tel: +961-161 1545, +961-71-792 586 Email: email@example.com Opening hours: 11am - 7pm Monday to Thursday, Friday and Saturday by appointment
Follow Timi Hayek
Website Instagram: @timihayek Twitter: @timihayek