1. Did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur when you went to school?
Nour de la Garza: I always had idea notebooks and an entrepreneurship spirit. I started my first “business” at the age of 11. I used to go to my little cousins birthday parties and did their makeup (spiderman, unicorn, princess, and zombie amongst my most popular styles). Growing up, I thought this would be a great story for an interview not a foreshadowing of styling shoots for my own brand!
Instance: I always knew I wanted to work on my own, but I didn’t know it would come so early in my life. I love being an entrepreneur and being my own boss. Even though it can be tough sometimes.
2. What is the message behind your brand?
Nour de la Garza: This brand was a long time coming. It is centered in empowering women and encourages self-expression. We believe fashion is much more than just trends, that’s why our slogan is: “timeless style for contemporary minds.” If done in a sustainable and conscious manner, fashion can have such a great impact in the world.
Instance: Instance stands for ethical luxury. I want to show that ethical fashion can also be elegant and feminine and doesn’t limit itself to cotton t-shirts and baggy trousers.
3. How did you start your brand?
Nour de la Garza: Well, I went to fashion school with the name ready for when I came back, ha! But it really came about after finishing an internship at an online showroom and realizing I could go for it! I then created a business plan with the help of one of my friends who later became my business partner, Luisa.
Instance: When I started Instance, I was at a crossroads. I had just finished my design degree and didn’t really know which way to go so I started brainstorming. I had always had in mind to create a fashion line, but I needed to find an idea that would make my label different and recognizable. I gathered ideas and the Instance concept started to emerge.
4. What was your biggest fear when going out and starting your own line?
Nour de la Garza: You are putting your creations out there hoping to reach the right minds. The fear of failure is always there but the thrill of one happy customer purchasing a piece of your collection is very satisfying.
Instance: My biggest fear was that of all entrepreneurs, I think. You invest a lot of time and money, but you are not sure if anyone is ever going to want to buy your product. So yes, I think this was my biggest fear.
5. Can anyone start a brand?
Nour de la Garza: Absolutely. I would however recommend the following. If you like doing work and going home without having to think about work, an entrepreneurial life is not for you. However, if fashion is something you are passionate about and you are willing to put in the time and effort- why not?
Instance: Yes and no. I think anyone can as long as they are passionate and perseverant. These are two essential conditions I would say.
6. You are designers but as entrepreneurs have to deal with many other aspects of running a fashion brand. What do you like/dislike?
Nour de la Garza: Ok, this one is a hard one. My favorite would be creating the brand – the process is almost like therapy. Then there is content creation and advertising. I am a people person, so this is something I enjoy. Also, the fact that I get to work with one of my best friends. Now, one of the toughest parts is bookkeeping (which is part of Luisa’s side of things) and the patience needed to introduce a new product into a market.
Instance: I personally love everything that involves product management and following the production. I also like content creation. I am not so comfortable with advertising, selling and self-promotion.
7. What is the toughest challenge you have faced as a woman entrepreneur?
Nour de la Garza: I have not faced a challenge as a woman within the fashion industry, but I do get patronized when speaking about it in other business settings. One important sub-section to being a woman is being a curvy woman in an industry where looks are important and more valuable when you are slender. This has been a challenge. I have had instances when people disregard my advice about pieces I have designed simply because of my size. I know this because they would turn around and opt for advice from Luisa, who has a beautiful slender figure. I do however take this as an opportunity to show those women who are curvier that it is possible to have a career in fashion.
Instance: The same ones you face as a woman I would say. People tend to treat you less seriously when you are a woman and I think it is the biggest challenge. But you have to be strong-minded and not let yourself be unsettled by certain comments or behaviors.
8. Looking back, what’s one thing you wish you understood about entrepreneurship before you got started?
Nour de la Garza: the commitment is something you start of with as an idea rather than a fact. Do you know what I mean? Think about your favorite brands. They have been there for many years. As a start-up, with a small team, you have to understand that you will be pushing and sailing through hard weather until you have found your audience. There will be mistakes along the way, but the key is to “just keep swimming.”
Instance: that it is a journey and that success doesn’t happen overnight. Also, that failure is not permanent and you need failures to succeed.
9. What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given?
Nour de la Garza: “The Devil is in the details.” Wow, has that been engraved in me and still bites my bum every once in a while.
Instance: Be patient and do your best.
10. What do you think the future of fashion is?
Nour de la Garza: The future of fashion is definitely headed into the conscious, sustainable, and inclusive route. I am just surprised it took it this long. I am really excited to see how this pushes creatives into the next wave of fashion.
Instance: I think more and more brands will include sustainability in their collections and that the fashion seasons will become more and more blurred. Let’s see if the change comes from the customers or from brands themselves. Probably a combination.
Note from the editor: In regard to this question, it is important to note that both brands mentioned above are sustainable and seasonless. That should tell you a lot about the new creatives in the industry.
Make sure to check Instance out!