I’d like to consider myself an aspiring girl boss, but life gets hard sometimes, managing school, my social life, and teenntimes, feminazma, and power media as a whole leaves my head spinning and I’m still in the stage of building the foundations – pretty much laying the building blocks. So many days I find myself on the verge of giving up only 6 months in, and it’s not just me, but every single young entrepreneur as well, so I’m putting forth this list for you in the hope that you find as much inspiration and empowerment as I have from these ladies.
1- Jude Benhalim
Jude is a 23 year old Libyan-Syrian magnificent boss lady born and raised in Egypt with enough power to feed an entire generation – oh wait, she already has. Jude Benhalim started her epic jewelry brand (named after herself) “Jude Benhalim” while in her senior year at Hayah International Academy, that was back in 2011, as of today, I can confidently say that I and many of my close friends own at least one Jude Benhalim piece which we wear with immense pride. Jude is incredibly empowering in the sense that not only did she start young but her products are daring and diverse, combining old concepts with incredibly modern ones to bring timeless chic jewelry to the table. Countless Egyptian celebrities and socialites have been seen glowing in their Jude Benhalim jewelry, be it at festivals or just walking down the street, it’s hard not to feel powerful when wearing Jude Benhalim. Jude Benhalim is the epitome of inspiration to the many young bosses starting their own jewelry lines and lord knows how much we need Jude to tell us how she did it.
The designer was mentioned in Vogue Arabia, Vogue Italia, and Harpers Bazaar Arabia among other lit magazines AND she’s done some insanely rewarding and bold collaborations that have never failed to leave the impression that empowered people, empower people. Moreover, if all of the above has not been enough, the “manpower” behind the brand is actually a “girlpower” as Jude herself leads a 5 girl team 🙂
Side Note: It is in this moment that I die inside because I am a Hayah senior at the moment as well – especially since Jude started this as (I think) a CAS Project?
2&3 – Aya and Mounaz Abdelraouf
I get to sum this up in one word – Okhtein – need I say more? Because when it’s your bestfriend’s birthday you no longer pitch in with your friends to buy her a Ted Baker bag rather you drop by Zamalek or go to http://www.okhtein.com and order her an Okhtein bag. Because when it’s MUN and you need a practical but chic bag you don’t drop by Michael Kors, you drop by Okhtein, and finally because Beyoncé herself fucking wore Okhtein. Aya and Mounaz Abdelraouf are the lit duo who practically built up the foundations of the fashion hailstorm in Egypt. The two sisters are the embodiment of elegance, character, and art – that’s it – the sisters are art. Their creations are enrapturing, their designs are mind blowing, and insanely enough – they go with everything. These two ladies have shaken up the world, they’ve defied norms, deviated from expectation, and broke through the glass ceiling so young female entrepreneurs won’t have to.
Established in 2014, it’s rather surprising that these two women have made it so far and so quick, and it probably involved a lot of risk taking I think. Aya and Mounaz are born and raised Egyptians who grew up in Cairo harboring an intense fascination for fashion, the visual artist and painter respectively have combined their talents and their studies (a rather rare feat) to bring together what resembles today – a symbol of hope to many aspiring young entrepreneurs. The sisters have been mentioned in countless international magazines including Vogue of course, they’ve attended a good amount of Fashion Weeks including the Milano Fashion Week, and they’ve collaborated with quite a few local artists to deliver pleasant surprises to their customers.
4- Hadia Ghaleb
Hadia is a woman, a very strong, passionate, and busy woman. I’m at a loss as to where to start really, Hadia is the representation of utter fearlessness, the ex basketball and track star is obsessed with fashion and trends. Come to speak of it, Hadia was one of the first Egyptians who hopped onto the fashion blogging bandwagon, she’s got style, boldness, and the creativity to match. The 25 year old AUC alumni founded her own consulting agency Ghaleb Production House (GPH) a few years back and has been including her superstar choreographer and dancer sibling Layla Ghaleb into the mess. Managing her daring outfits, a consulting agency, an insane social life, and all the while being very active with her audience is no easy task – I forgot, she’s also starring in a new E! Entertainment reality TV show. To be quite honest, whenever I think I’m busy and being run over, I open Hadia’s snaps and suddenly thank God for my workload.
Hadia is currently at #NYFW and is having the time of her life, all the while working. She has collaborated quite a few times with some amazing stars such as close friend Sara Sabry! The fashion influencer and CEO leads a hectic life, but what is truly inspiring about Hadia is that not only does she always come through, but she’s so active on social media that she’s constantly subconsciously giving advice and inspiration to young entrepreneurs. Wherever life takes Hadia, I can always find comfort in knowing that she’ll divulge and empower.
5- Amy Mowafi
I’ve saved the best for last (to me at least) as Amy is someone I idolize. To be quite honest – excuse my bluntness too – Amy is not a boss lady, she really isn’t, rather the closest description of Amy (though an understatement) would be Super Woman. Amy is a goddess and I do not kid you, this woman was born and raised in the UK and graduated from the University of Bath, but upon coming to Egypt, she quickly joined the staff of Enigma magazine and climbed the ladder fast, forming a strong network with women like herself and absorbing the experience of everyone around her, the then 22 year old spent 10 years in Enigma and quit after having achieved and maintained an insane position. By the time she decided to quit, she had 2 bestselling books “Fe-email” 1 & 2, was a renown columnist, an infamous writer, a TV personality, a wife, a pregnant lady, and starting her own company. I dare you to try to find one human with the guts Amy Mowafi has, and it’s in this moment that I declare that there can only ever be one Amy Mowafi, actually – I think of Amy as Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.
As of today, Amy is the Co-Founder and CEO of MO4Network – the leading media and marketing agency of the Middle East. Amy founded MO4 alongside her 3 younger brothers – Waleed, Adam, and Timmy – now, I should dedicate a blog post to each brother, and a bloody book to Amy, but that’s for later. Super Woman Amy then continued to start on MO4’s babies alongside her bros; mega media site CairoScene, every party’s must have photographers CairoZoom, every music junkie’s saving grace SceneNoise, every Egyptian entrepreneur’s “it” go to site StartUpSceneME, every arabic reader’s salvation ElFasla, and hopefully that will be it or else MO4 will literally leave no other spot for anyone in the market, and thanks. Now, Amy is a mom of two who is juggling family time, work, endless screaming matches at the MO4 Head Quarters in The Greek Campus, holding herself back from yelling profanities in pitching meetings, crying on the bathroom floor, flying by the seat of her pants, and balancing her 2018 resolutions: to be a fashion influencer and a fit mom – beyond admirable isn’t she?
Side Note: Dear Mowafis, adopt me please.
Side Note 2: Shoutout to CairoScene’s epic editor in chief Farah Hosny because how that woman keeps up with CS content is beyond me.
Dear girls and boys, should you ever feel hopeless, restless, lifeless, or defeated, either visit this article or visit the social media accounts for these ladies and the fire of desire to succeed will burn within you. Now, fuck what anyone else says, you’re a lit human being, if you’ve already started your entrepreneurial journey then don’t you dare give up now, if not and you feel it in your bones then what the hell is stopping you? These people weren’t given tools to succeed, they fucking made them. Now, excuse me while I go furniture shop for my basement which will be turned into our HQ for our uni years (if we get that far, hopefully we will.)