Energy: You can’t lose your creative energy after all of the commerciality involved with a business. You have to maintain your passion for the game and continue being authentic in your creative output.
I had the pleasure to interview Saber Ahmed. Saber and his brother, Samee, grew up in the industrial town of Cypress Texas, located in north Houston. Since he can remember, he was interested in fashion and differentiating himself from his peers through clothing. He is deeply interested in Japanese fashion, and along with the rise of luxury streetwear around the same time his brother was studying design provided a perfect situation to pursue fashion entrepreneurially. He believes his understanding of trends in his niche market provides him an advantage over his older and more conservative high fashion counterparts. Saber’s academic background is in finance/business administration. Saber has always had a knack for business and regularly collaborates and consults with his mother who runs a manufacturing company in the heart of the industrial hub in Houston, because of this, entrepreneurship and leadership has always been in his blood. Ahmed’s approach to his “Business of Fashion” is a contemporary approach in attempting to grow a grass-roots luxury movement, a novel concept. Because this approach is tailored toward a niche group, he believes it will outlast his competitors due to the ability to maintain a high-quality standard.
Thank you so much for joining us Saber! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I can’t really recall if any one moment brought me here. I think fashion along with other career paths I’d like to take on is just a reflection of my pure self. Me and my brother, Samee, who I started Glass Cypress with, have always been into fashion so it makes sense. That being said it is a blessing to be able to work with my best friends and family and create a culture in Houston, a city we love.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started?
Being able to travel the world with a purpose has been such an amazing experience. New York and LA have become second homes to us. The most interesting story was probably the ability to present a collection in Paris Fashion Week in September 2019. Being able to see suburban culture in a luxury form on the big stage was a dream come true.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When we first had the ability to reconfigure the interior of a residential home into a commercial boutique, we never had experience working on interior design, so we ended up hiring a professional to help us design the interior and manage the development (for a lot of money). She ended up giving us some ridiculous ideas and ran away from the city and we could never find her again. Lesson learned: Don’t ever hire anyone for creative services. Luckily, we have been able to redesign our boutique into a beautiful showroom and store for our customers in Houston.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Glass Cypress is pretty much made up of a group of old friends running pretty much every aspect of our brand. Somehow, we’ve been blessed to realize that once you really take yourself away from any other form of motivation, whether it be commercial ambitions or something else, you actually end up being more appreciated. We market how we want, we produce products and create content the way we want. We redesigned the interior of our store the way we wanted to. Just recently we made the back door of the “house” right next to our garage the entrance to our boutique, which forces customers to walk up our driveway and creating the vibe of a residence prior to walking in. Samee, my brother and Glass Cypress’ designer, loves putting a lot of time into reworking vintage designer pieces. Although this is not as profitable, we pursue these efforts because those are the types of things that genuinely make us happy, which allows us to be more creative and produce better — and more authentic — content. Fortunately, being instinctive has worked, so we’ll just continue being ourselves.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I would recommend taking time for yourself. It’s important to take care of yourself and do things for you, not necessarily for the company. For me, it’s using a sensory deprivation tank, prayer, and books to escape and re-center myself.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
From a creative standpoint we’re providing vocabulary for our customers to speak. Being able to express yourself with garments that reflect you allows you to become increasingly individualized. We’re blessed to provide a language that people enjoy speaking.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
Virgil Abloh once said “I don’t come up with ideas in a test tube, I come up with ideas by breaking test tubes.” I’m not sure what he was exactly referring to, but it definitely resonated with me. Break barriers in every way possible and execute exactly what you envision. We’re all parented by society to think one certain way so it’s important for some to break those test tubes and get creative.
Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?
The past couple months I saw some very interesting collaborations. Dior/Stussy, Prada/Adidas, and others. Intuitively, it just seems like heritage and legacy brands are trying to reach the new generation that is just starting to tip-toe into luxury. In my opinion, I don’t think anyone can appeal to a certain demographic more than the population themselves, so I see more of the youth being involved in high fashion and creating more authentic products. I’m excited about that and you already see it happening with many newer brands. Geographically, I’m excited to see the United States being the face of the luxury clothing market.
What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Fashion Industry”. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Confidence: There isn’t a gray area in terms of validation. Its rather you’re a legit brand or a group of people trying to be a brand. You can’t let that thought into your mind at any point so confidence is key. You are the greatest brand to walk this planet.
2. Energy: You can’t lose your creative energy after all of the commerciality involved with a business. You have to maintain your passion for the game and continue being authentic in your creative output.
3. An objective mindset: All clothing is clothing until you become objective and task-oriented with your ideas. Then it becomes fashion.
4. A great team: It’s more work than it seems. We have a core group that does very different things very well. Sometimes finding a team like that is pure luck — other times you have to just go out there and find them.
5. Persistence: It seems like everyone thinks you just become a clothing brand overnight. Desirable conversion rates come slow, so you have to push consistently and persistently. Also, developing yourself and your character takes persistence. As you grow as an individual, so will your company.
Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?
Being more aware of why you’re purchasing something. Glass Cypress appeals to the more conscious consumer, which is why it is sometimes harder to gain exposure. You might be spending more money on a 100% silk bomber jacket from Glass Cypress, but you’ll probably never have to buy one again, and at the same time, be fresher than the person next to you.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’m not sure if I’m a person of any influence. If I ever become one, though, I’d like to bring more attention to three things that I’m passionate about: Allowing people to be themselves, have an objective mindset and value thoughts. Everyone’s individuality is stripped from them until they’re aware of it. The only way to be yourself is to be reborn and the first step to doing that is to stop thinking.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!