Monday August 13, 2018 By: Fadi Tawfik
In recent years, entrepreneurs have dominated the realm of innovation. In fact, some may even argue that we are living in the golden age for entrepreneurship. When taking a closer look at those entrepreneurs, it becomes evident that most of them founded their business to fill a void they felt was needed. Young entrepreneurs tend to surprise us the most. To be creative at a young age is one thing, and to establish a business is quite another. Nevertheless, Zeina Soliman, founder of Reconstructed, was able to overcome the challenges she encountered due to her young age and executed her innovative startup idea.
“I remember quite well how it all started,” Zeina recalls. “It was January 2017 and I was just 15 at that time, and I decided to experiment with painting a pair of my own white sneakers.” Being a lover of art and fashion ever since she could remember, Zeina acquired an eagerness to turn her shoes into a unique statement piece. After playing around with the colors and designs, she was able to give her shoes a personalized twist. When she wore her unique colorful product, several of her friends asked her to customize their items as well; and her startup idea was born. “Reconstructed is basically a startup that offers customization services for luxury items including shoes, jackets, and wallets.” Zeina explains.
As with anything else, Zeina got better with experience. Her first project was to create a camouflage pattern on a pair of white sneakers for a good friend of hers. While the design was simple and straightforward, she admitted that “it was the most challenging one.” The reason being that this project taught her everything she would need to know to complete her future designs. To illustrate these designs, Zeina utilizes nothing but flexible and washable acrylic leather paints. With every project, her expertise increased and her talent was shed to light. Within less than a year, Reconstructed has been able to give over 50 wearable items a customized new look that expresses their owner’s individuality.
“Tuscany, Italy” is what Zeina describes as her main source of inspiration. Having spent most of her summers there, Zeina’s designs are not only inspired by the beautiful Tuscan hills, but also by the realism of the renaissance period. In addition, Zeina is a big fan of pop art and uses pieces by Mr. Brainwash, Andy Warhol, and Banksy as additional sources of inspiration. When asked about how she picks the designs she replied, “The designs I paint tend to have aspects from my personal style as well as the customer’s own taste.”
Before starting any project, Zeina focuses on understanding what the customer really wants. She believes that knowing the customer’s personality gives her a clearer vision of what design would best suit her. Starting any business is not easy, starting one at a young age is even more challenging. It wasn’t a smooth ride for Zeina who encountered many obstacles along the way. “I can’t deny that I struggle every now and then to balance my time between studying and working, but I am determined to keep this idea going and grow it even more.” Hence, Zeina showed a strong determination to effectively organize her time between running a fast-growing business and continue being a top student.
Zeina markets Reconstructed on various social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram. Those platforms have given her not only the opportunity to meet a wide range of customers, but also the chance to lead workshops for children. Zeina’s first workshop was at the school she attends, where she was asked to teach children, between the ages of 12 and 14, how to customize their own items. The workshop was a great success and she enjoyed the experience of working with children. After posting about it on social media, Zeina was contacted by the founder of Datifa, a Children’s Art and Culture Platform, to lead a second workshop for younger ages. Zeina is enthusiastic to be offered this “fun opportunity to share my passion and motivate children to do what they love”.
When asked about her future plans, Zeina shared her dreams of expanding Reconstructed beyond Egypt, and her hopes of customizing items such as buildings, planes, and grand pianos. She further plans on studying fine arts after high school, yet hopes to simultaneously continue growing Reconstructed during her collage years. Apart from her magnificent customization abilities, the young entrepreneur is creating numerous paintings, which she also exhibits on social media. Between attending art classes in Florence, Italy, leading workshops, and being a high school student, this young prodigious entrepreneur has somehow managed to carve out the time to run her new business, while solemnly pledging to not stop there as she thinks that it is “only the beginning”.
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