Mohanad Kojak on Starting Simple and Dreaming Big

Date: 2017-10-03

Starting Simple and Dreaming Big

Celebrities such as Nelly Karim, Ahmed Malek, Yosra El-Lozy, and Jamila Awad were recently seen wearing Mohanad Kojak designs at the El-Gouna International Film Festival as well as Mashrou’ Leila’s Hamed Sinno and Sharmoofers at the Music Park in Cairo Festival City. The 23-year-old designer, who dropped out of the GUC after studying graphic design for three years and then studied fashion design at MSA, attributes his success to a simple formula: “Coming up with something that’s different, something that people would question, something that would trigger something in people and something they would relate to rather than just creating pretty pieces, because there’s enough of that already in the world.” The Kojak brand is definitely growing in popularity in Egypt. The Project Runway Middle Eastalumnus, who started the Kojak brand all with his own saved money, has big dreams of opening stores worldwide. 



HE Questions Kojak:


Your name, age, and educational background:

My name is Mohanad Kojak, and I am 23-years-old. I studied graphic design for three years at the GUC, then I dropped out. I took a gap year, during which time I worked more on branding. Now I’m studying fashion design at MSA. 


When and how did you come up with your design’s business concept? What was your inspiration, and who was your role model? How did your education and family help?

 I launched the brand four years ago. It all started with a university project that I was working on during my first semester. I had to shoot a film, so I decided to make it a fashion film where I had to create sketches that I then translated into actual designs. 

By then, I was working in PR and art direction, so I had some connections. When I published the shoot, some boutiques and people contacted me to buy the pieces. I was also friends with some fashion bloggers who helped give some exposure to the brand. 

 I don’t really have a role model, but I have people that I look up to. The first would definitely be my mom. When it comes to design, Alexander McQueen is the one.  

My family was rather supportive, though not financially. I did everything myself and used my own work money.




What fueled the growth of your business and brought it to where it is today? Who funded it, and who helped you to make it come to fruition? Who is your team?

No one funded the project; I developed it myself. As for my team, Maison Pyramide handles the PR. I also have my assistant and a team of 12 workers, including pattern makers, sewers, technicians for embroidery, and so on.


What are your marketing strategies and challenges? 

My marketing strategy is always coming up with something new, something that’s personal, something that would make people question or relate to it. I want to create something that’s extraordinary and fresh to the eye. That’s what I’m always aiming for and working towards

Not being able to tell how people would perceive the designs or react to them is a challenge. Like I said, the designs are very personal, and anything that’s personal doesn’t garner similar responses. Some may support it while others may reject it, and then there are those who wouldn’t even get the concept of it. There’s always back and forth—nothing is guaranteed in this type of work. 

For instance, in my latest campaign, which was based on the concept of diversity, I tried to portray all the different people in our society in one picture, without ignoring, forgetting, or disregarding anyone. I mainly worked on this campaign because some people perceive me and my brand as loud and that I wouldn’t do something that’s conservative or modest, which actually runs completely against what I do. So I portrayed a niqabiwoman to show that the brand is diverse. Some people felt that I was demeaning them when in fact I was trying to highlight the idea of acceptance and tolerance. 


What are your hopes and dreams for your business and and for yourself in the short and long term? 

I hope to have flagship stores in the main fashion cities of the world, like Paris, Milan, and Tokyo. I also dream of dressing all my favorite celebrities and the people I admire.