Fashion Designer SECOND.st | INTERVIEW
SECOND st is a socially conscious brand with a playful and progressive take on the classics! We find this brand amazing and want to know more about them.
Tracy, tell us a little bit about your background and what led to you to setting up your own business.
I have to start off by saying that we are three partners at SECOND.st, Sarah Hermez, George Rouhana and myself !
It is what it is because of the teamwork.
The name Second ST. is an ode to the street in New York City where both Sarah and I lived while attending Parsons the New School for Design. After university I pursued my master in Milan and then I moved back to Lebanon in 2011. I began to work as a buyer at a concept store, and then worked with local fashion designers. Soon after I realized that I had the ambition and drive to pursue my own business, but I didn’t want to do it alone. Sarah had also moved to Lebanon in 2010 and she started a nonprofit organization called Creative Space Beirut, a free school for fashion design that fosters talent and provides equal opportunity into the industry. Sarah was looking for ideas to sustain the free school and one day we were having drinks and it just clicked, Second St was born with a mission to support free education. We quickly partnered with George Rouhana, who was already working with Sarah and the trio was formed!
What makes «SECOND.st» clothes different from other fashion designers?
Shortly after partnering with Sarah and George we decided that we want to start with a mono-product. The shirt quickly became our thing. Everyone loves a shirt, men, woman, and everyone in between. We wanted to take the classic shirt and turn it into something playful and fun, we wanted to de construct play with fabrics and color block. We also added an important element, our second st monsters. The story of the monster goes way back to NYC days on Second st. Whenever someone visited Sarah’s apartment, she would make them draw monsters on her front door, eventually turning the door into a monster mural. The door was fun and made us smile and we wanted to include these monsters in the story of our brand.
What exactly does «socially conscious brand» mean?
Second St is a socially conscious brand because a percentage of our profits go to pay for the education of the students at Creative Space Beirut. We are passionate about talent, and unfortunately there are no free design schools in Lebanon, education being very expensive. We had to take matters in our own hands and build a free school. We also share the same management team with Creative Space Beirut, and the salaries of the team are covered by Second St, relieving the non-profit organization from salary costs. We also share expenses and rent costs! Most importantly, as we grow, we hope to serve as a platform to hire and collaborate with students after they graduate.
Where, apart from Lebanon, you can buy your clothing?
Right now, you can find SECOND.st in Berlin at Studio 183, In Barcelona at MI store as well as Designers Studio in Doha, Qatar.
Are there designers that influence or inspire you?
I am a big fan of Rodarte it doesn’t really influence any of our designs but it’s beautiful one of a kind pieces to look at.
Dries Van Noten is the king of prints and fabric and someone we look up to. Also Sies Marjan take on color is exceptional.
Is there a particular piece of yours that you are most proud of or most excited about?
It all started with our triangle kimono!
How do you market your business?
We are a small team based in Beirut city and trying to get our name out into the world. In Beirut, it works in a different way, it’s a small country and therefore marketing is mostly word of mouth. However, on a worldwide scale its very different and we depend mostly on social media and gifting our product to people that fit our identity. We will be launching an online shop soon that will include our whole story including the free school. We think we have a strong story that helps with our marketing.
What’s it like running your own business? Describe your typical day.
It’s not easy starting your own business its sounds much easier than it is 🙂
But, we are a lucky team of three and can always depend on each other for support.
Monday through Friday, our days are always different as we do everything in-house and manage Creative Space Beirut as well as two of our in-house brands ( CSB ready to wear & Roni Helou) so you can imagine how hectic it is out here. Between designing new products, going to the factories, working with students, following up with the team and brainstorming strategies it is never ending really.
What’s the secret to creating your own style?
There isn’t really a secret behind it you need to figure out who you are as a person as well as a brand and believe in it and stick to your identity without giving it up.
How do you define success?
I’m not sure that success can be defined or is even meant to be reached. Success is a vision, it should constantly be recreated so that we constantly have something to strive for. We can have many small successes, and everytime a task is finished, a product released, and event produced, these are small successes that ultimately will lead us towards our dream. We have a huge dream, and that is to expand the brands, expand the school and keep on growing.
What has been your greatest accomplishment or milestone to date?
One of my most favorite moments is when I see a real person wearing one of our pieces and that piece that we put so much effort into is actually brought to life. 🙂 As an accomplishment I would say the fact that we have build a school and graduated fashion designers that are now working In the field is a big milestone for us.
Thank you very much for the interview!