Tell us about your foray into the field of fashion and lifestyle. How did it all begin for you?
Kamal Limited has been in textiles for the last 60 years and mostly concentrating on the export business, I joined the company in 2008. I felt there was a great opportunity in local market for a retail brand that can bring to the people high street fashion at an affordable price
You are the CEO of So Kamal and right at the helm of affairs of the business. How challenging is it to lead an entire workforce, take care of the workings and operations and also ensuring that the production is of utmost quality?
It is challenging indeed but as Kamal Limited has the whole vertical line, I can get the edge from the rest of the market and also gain support from the parent company.
In what ways do you think the pandemic affected the business and how much damage control has been done on your company’s part?
The pandemic has hit the world badly. We at Kamal Limited supported our workers in every way possible and I think all responsible companies stood up and took responsibility. Lots of new lessons were learnt, the most importing being able to sustain and get through difficult times.
So Kamal is both a fashion and a lifestyle brand. Which aspect requires the most attention – the fashion line or the home furnishing line? In which are you the most involved?
I actually started with home. My passion was always to develop something different and affordable and fashion is a lifestyle. A person with good taste would definitely want everything in style. I cannot differentiate the two. I am very much involved in all aspects of the business but fashion will always be my first love as a creative person. In the same breath, I would also like to mention that regardless of the business division, as the CEO of the company. I’ve to make sure that that the essence of a So Kamal product is visible in everything we create.
‘Our goal should be to cater to the needs of Pakistanis by goods made in Pakistan and we are completely doing that but the problem is the smuggled goods that are hampering the growth of our industry and country’
What are you currently working on?
We are working on making So Kamal a one stop experience, where you can find everything. We are currently working on our western line. Another project I just launched is Sasha, our first digital influencer in Pakistan. The pandemic showed us how we should explore new avenues, get a step ahead and bring change. So there’s a lot going on right now. We’ve recently launched two collections one for Eid and one for Monsoon. We continue to work with some of the biggest names in the country for example we worked recently with Hania Aamir, Ayeza Khan and Urwa Hocane.
The market is now saturated with various different fashion and lifestyle brands. Which one is your favourite and which do you consider a good competition to So Kamal?
So Kamal is my passion my dream. I don’t see any retail brands where someone is that involved so I’m not competing with any one. We created our own place in this market and gained a lot of love and appreciation. There are so many brands right now and all of them are doing some fantastic work. It wouldn’t be fair to name a few but I am really inspired by the work of brands like Sana Safinaz and Elan.
How much alteration did you do to your brand considering how people restricted their spending patterns in the current coronavirus times?
We had to tighten our belts so we reduced the prices. We are offering the lowest prices in the market and still we do not compromise on quality. We worked very hard on our online business and with the Grace of God, survived these hard times with a very solid team behind us. It’s a very challenging job to say the least but at the same time I would also like to appreciate my team. By the Grace of God, I have been blessed with a dream team who I also consider my family. I always tell my team that whatever circumstances you are in, whatever challenges that your facing you must always remember the company’s vision, its objectives and why do we do what we do. I think that is the most important thing to always remember who you are as a brand and make your own make your own standing in the market. I think all businesses across industries have suffered due to the pandemic specially retail. Luckily as a brand we were heading in the right direction even before the pandemic, our main focus was to develop our online sales as we feel that e-commerce is the future for all businesses. Hence even during the pandemic, although the first two months of very challenging but due to our e-commerce setup and are brilliant e-commerce team we were able to bounce back and by the grace of God we have handled the situation really well as a team.
What is your vision for Pakistan and what does it mean to be Pakistani for you?
Made in Pakistan, we are a textile producing country. Our goal should be to cater to the needs of Pakistanis by goods made in Pakistan and we are completely doing that but the problem is the smuggled goods that are hampering the growth of our industry and country.
What according to you has been your biggest achievement so far?
Very soon, we will be launching Pakistan’s first virtual influencer. I can’t reveal much about it but it is something that is very close to my heart. As mentioned above also, developing our e-commerce portal was the key for us as a brand. Spending patterns have changed and there is no doubt about it but as a marketer who has spent so many years in the market you will learn to develop contingency plans to survive in the current market situation. If I was to summarise our strategy, me and my team have worked really hard to make a product more accessible both via our E-Commerce Store and by altering prices to still appeal to our consumers.
We at Daily Times consider you one of our national heroes. Who are some of yours?
I respect and admire Imran Khan. His policies like Made in Pakistan can take our country to the top. He is my hero, our men on the borders and our judicial system is my hero. I have so many, how can I name one?
HELM OF AFFAIRS
Erum Ahmed Kamal is the chief executive officer of renowned and well reputed fashion, apparel and lifestyle brand So Kamal.
ROLE MODEL FOR WOMEN
Erum Kamal is the perfect source of inspiration for all women who work, as she is a mother and a grandmother and manager and strikes a balance between her home life and professional life remarkably well. She doesn’t let the two equally challenging aspects of her life interfere with each other and hence is successful in whatever she does.
THE CELEBRITIES’ FAVOURITE
Over the years, Erum has worked with all the leading celebrities of Pakistan with So Kamal. Only but recently, she worked with Hania Aamir, Urwa Hocane and Ayeza Khan.
PAKISTAN’S FIRST VIRTUAL INFLUENCER
Sasha will be our country’s first virtual influencer and is being developed by So Kamal currently.