Who is Nour?
A graduate in fine arts, Nour was interning at Vogue when she realized she no longer wanted to work in a large fashion corporation. So, she went back to her roots in art and studied Art Business at Sotheby’s where she was inspired by New York’s Street culture to create a product that combined fashion and art. And so, @thenouproject ‘s collaboration sneakers were born.
How did The Nou Project start and what is it about?
The Nou Project is an online platform, that bridges the gap between art and fashion by show casing limited edition art on sneakers. I always found myself at two crossroads between art and fashion, I did fine arts for my undergrad then fashion styling for my graduate, then went back into the art world. Apart of our thesis project was to come up with a business plan that would impact the art world in a different way. I was very much inspired by the New York street style. It’s like having an art gallery but show casing the work on the shoes. Basma was studying at Parsons at the time, so she became the designer and we launched the brand together.
You studied fine arts and you worked in fashion at Vogue, how was that?
Yes, I did an internship, and was very lucky to find something that combines the two things I love.
So, every step you took lead you to your path of The Nou Project?
There was definitely ups and downs, like in any start up but one thing I would change if I could would be wanting to have work experience at an existing sneaker brand, to really learn the dynamics of it- I learnt the hard way for sure. Two things I learnt that make a successful business is, creativity and marketing. Also, that creativity and logic don’t work hand in hand. Moving from the market in the US to the market here was definitely a shift and I had to learn how to adapt.
Do you have any future plans?
I also moved the brand to the UK; I am trying to make it more global. I’m also working on new and exciting ways of brand direction, so stay tuned!
Tell us about how you chose your artists, and how you still choose them?
Luckily, @rexchouk is a friend of mine, so it was really important for me for the first artist I collaborate with to be Saudi. I wanted to work with emerging and contemporary artists. A few others are James Rosen who’s British, Eric Yanker who’s from the US, he made the Obama sneakers that sold out. Very much international artists.
How did you find your factories and how did you come to choose the one you ended up working with?
The factories are actually from recommendations of sneaker brands, I went to factories in Portugal, Italy and China- the reason I ended up with China was because they were the only ones willing to do the new technology that I wanted the sole of the shoes to have.
You mentioned your initial market aim was the US, was that just because you were living in NYC?
Yes, I was living there and that is pretty much what sparked my idea. I also learnt many things from it, such as introducing my vegan leather as that it was a lot of the customers there wanted.
You mentioned it is important to focus on marketing, what does The Nou Project do to achieve this?
The reason I say that is because when you first launch a brand there is this idea that you’d sell out instantly, but a marketing team is so important. People need to know your story, know your brand, what would make people want to choose you? Now with social media, it definitely helps this.
What is your proudest moment?
Definitely when we launched during Art Basel Miami, it really demonstrated the brand value. We were in the hub of our target market- people that appreciate sneakers and art.
What advice would you give to any creative starting out now?
I would tell them to start now, everyone has amazing ideas but the difference between an idea and a brand is acting on it. Act now, don’t let fear hold you back. Do your research, understand and know your market and go for it. Also, I would advise to learn things you might not like, for example for me it was accounting.