Afaf Zahira Seyam
Age || 27
Company Name || Heurueh
Job Title || Creative Director
Company Start Date || August 2015
Years Living In New York || 7
Company Website || heurueh
What did you want to be as a child?
Everything. First a lawyer, then photographer, architect, and finally by middle school — fashion designer.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given when you were starting Heurueh?
Don’t overthink it.
How do you define success?
Feeling fulfilled and excited to keep going.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned since starting out?
There’s more than one path to success. Anything can work with the right amount of preparation, good timing, and consistency.
What is your go-to motivational quote?
I love quotes, my favorite one is always changing. Right now it’s: “Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck” by the Dalai Lama
What made you interested in starting a faux fur focused company?
I wanted to start a brand with a positive message. It worked out that the company I was working for had developed a reputation for having some of the best faux fur in the industry. It just felt like all the pieces were lined up.
Do you have a personal motto?
Live like you’re going to die tomorrow and live for 100 years. Basically balance.
Which women inspire you?
My friends are all amazing people, just talking to them regularly makes me want to keep doing bigger things. After that I’d say Zoe Kravitz, Marvel Superheroines — I always loved Storm and X-23 growing up, Sailor Moon, generally strong female leads in movies and cartoons that kick-ass.
What is your workspace like?
I work in a showroom/office space in the garment district with a small team.
How do you overcome moments of self-doubt?
I just keep busy. I find ways to keep feeling productive that make me feel like I’m progressing no matter what’s going on. Whether that’s working out, cleaning something, drawing, anything that doesn’t seem daunting in the moment. If all else fails I have amazing friends that I can call up.
What is the hardest part about being your own boss?
Evaluating which risks are worth taking.
How do you handle situations where you feel overwhelmed?
I’m not scared to ask for help and I think it’s the reason I rarely feel that way.
What has been the most rewarding thing since starting Heurueh?
Starting something, watching it grow, and building amazing friendships and connections along the way is a really fun process. I always smile when I look back at the things I said I wanted to accomplish that seemed ridiculous at the time that have actually happened.
What are some of your goals moving forward for Heurueh?
To keep having fun with it and building real relationships with people. And maybe one day open a store in SOHO.
How do you ensure you remain sustainable and eco-friendly as you grow?
I try to create and design with as little waste as possible. I make sure the pieces we design are special and high quality so they will last a long time. Also just for our general office practices, we try to stay as green as possible.
What is your design process?
I look at all the things me and my friends love and usually some kind of theme will come out of it. I make a mood board and illustrations and look for the right materials or design the textiles and trims if I can’t find them.
How has your background helped you with this venture?
I studied at NCSU where I learned about design, textiles, and business. I constantly held some kind of job/apprenticeship/internship. I think hustling so much when I was younger helped me understand so many different aspects of the industry and I met so many people who could give me great tips and advice. Being from an immigrant family taught me a lot about hard work. They built the foundation for my work ethic.
What advice would you give to other women trying to enter your field?
Work intuitively while trying to make every step something that will take you closer to a bigger goal. Also, be prepared for ups AND downs. It’s inevitable.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.