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In Conversation with Ingy Ismail, Founder of Flare PR


No company, person, or brand success is extricable from the magical works of Public Relations. In this Middle Eastern epoch of startups and brands foraging for the next big thing, the strategic practice of PR parallels and goes hand-in-hand with the upheaval. Ingy Yousri Ismail, PR agency Flare PR’s CEO and Founder, answers all our questions about the industry of PR and communications and helps us understand their enigmatic mechanisms.

The aficionado, additionally, tells us about the astounding journey of creating Flare PR, her distinction between the Middle Eastern and international markets, revelations of international businesses PR strategies, and – most excitingly – shares all that we need to know about starting a business with a fresh dynamic scope.

Can you tell us about the beginning of your journey in fashion and public relations? How did it all start? 

At the super young age of 14, I knew I wanted to study fashion and pursue a career in the field. I knew I was not good at design so I considered other options in the fashion field that required creativity in other forms. Later, I found the university that I ended up going to in 2005, to study Fashion and Luxury Goods Management in Italy.  

I started my first internship in fashion in London with Swedish brand, J. Lindeberg, when I was 18. I then moved to the UK press office at Diesel that same year for my first experience in the world of PR, which I fell in love with. After a while, I went back to Italy to continue my studies and worked alongside getting my university degree. I worked for Diesel’s headquarters in Milan in 2008 then moved to Florence, as I felt I wanted to enrich my education in fashion even further. I completed my masters in Fashion Merchandising and Management and by then, had a great overview of the fashion world and where I could best fit. After my masters program ended, I landed a job with Salvatore Ferragamo, where I stayed over 6 years. I initially worked in the licensing department and then was moved by HR to the PR office as they felt that this is where my potential would show best; I guess I’m a natural PR girl! After Ferragamo, I worked as a Global Communications Manager for Aquazzura till 2016, which was my last corporate job before Flare PR. I am extremely passionate about PR. I really think it comes naturally to me and I really enjoy the human factor in it as well as the different ways it has allowed me to creatively challenge myself.

What inspired the launch of Flare PR? 

It was early 2016 and I had been in Italy for 11 years. Given that I am half Italian, Italy has always felt like home to me, but for some reason that year I felt I needed a radical change in my life, something new, something exciting… That is when the thought of potentially taking my know-how and knowledge back to the Middle Eastern fashion market sparked. I thought about it for a few months and in September 2016 decided to come back to Egypt and think about what my next step would be. I started off by consulting a couple of brands and was amazed to learn that fashion PR and marketing was a much needed service in Egypt, which is how Flare turned from a personal consultancy project to an agency, without planning it. My dream was to always serve and benefit the local and regional fashion ecosystem and I think my career naturally fell into place with the launch of Flare.

In your opinion as a Fashion Consultant, what are the main aspects to consider as a new business owner tapping into the fashion industry?  

You must be very well informed on the industry, not only about trends and shows and the glam aspect of fashion but also the business aspect behind it. The fashion industry is a very tough business, yet a beautiful one. I believe those looking to start a business in the fashion industry need to dive deeper into important topics such as production, pricing, distribution, marketing, and accounting. They need to get the full picture and plan how they can sustain their business further rather than merely create a beautiful design.

Okhtein for Balmain

From Aquazzura to Ferragamo, your broad experience helps you understand the importance of PR and media placement. What are some common strategies used by successful international brands that you can share? 

Collaborations. Right now the whole fashion industry is very keen on collaborating with one another. With artists or brands of other industries. In the past few years we have seen unheard of collaborations come to life such as Fendace, Gucci X Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton X Supreme, and the list goes on and on. Collaboration helps introduce something new to the market with a new creative eye, it also helps brands benefit from cross-promotion as involved parties would be leading their audience to each other. It’s a great way to target new audience and show innovation in design.

We recently actually worked on two super collaborations for Balmain with Okhtein and Azza Fahmy, also mentioned as one of the best 2022 fashion moments in the Middle East.

Tell us more about your passion for empowering emerging brands and young talents in the creative industry.  

Flare means a beam of light and light is what makes things shine. That is what our mission is, to make brands ‘Shine Brighter’ through PR and Comms. Flare is an empowering force. Empowering brands helps us become morerelevant, entrepreneurial, and engaged. It allows companies and the people within them to evolve, learn and thrive. Our mission is to empower and be empowered. By empowering others, we also empower ourselves. This is a topic I am particularly focused on, not only with clients we work with but with brands and designers all over the region. I consult and advise many brands on a personal level as I genuinely want to see them grow in this fast-paced competitive industry. On top of that, I believe that education is empowering, which is also why I teach, give workshops, masterclasses on Fashion PR and events. They aim to benefit younger designers or established brands with limited resources.

 Your business focuses on connecting young talents to the international market. How is the approach to tackling an international market different from that of the MENA market? 

The fashion industry is a very competitive one globally. While the MENA market remains a relatively growing market with its home-grown talents, where brands are able to get their moment of spotlight, with international markets it is much more challenging. If we think a country like Egypt is home to over 1000 brands, we can only imagine if we multiply that globally how many brands are out there trying to find their space in the scene. Nevertheless, I believe that that we have amazing talents in the region with very rooted creativity and designs that appeal well to the global market. Offering something that is different, with strong storytelling on the designs and brand behind it helps us communicate and achieve results easier even on an international level.

What are some aspects you urge emerging brands to focus on internationally?  

Keeping up with international collection calendars – I would say – would be the first priority. Whether you are trying to reach press or buyers you need to make sure your collections and assets are ready to be able to work with the lead times both work with. Another important point is to make sure their pricing and stock is well-planned and that they are able to commit to international shipping. Creating an international buzz wouldn’t be beneficial if they are unable to sell internationally too.

Do you have a dream brand in mind you wish to collaborate with?  

I have many dream brands I wish to collaborate with and I think that when one is passion driven, the sky is the limit. Luckily, I am very passionate about my job and I also really trust the process, wherever that may take me. We have had the chance to work with big brands such as Valentino and Balmain with Flare and I am sure there will be others to come.

The worlds take on fashion is changing rapidly to shift more towards a less polluted industry. In what ways do you believe designers should approach such a challenge?

Sustainability is definitely a keyword in fashion nowadays. It does not only mean working with eco-friendly materials, but also considering creating timeless pieces. Another approach brands should have is to recycle all leftover material and put that into the recreation of new designs. 

Are there new potential trends you think new designers should pay more attention to?  

Fast-fashion has become even faster nowadays, everything is a trend one day and out the other and so on. I believe designers should not solely base their designs on trends, but also on what represents and expresses their design style the most.

  There seems to be a focus on the fashion industry in Egypt nowadays. What do you think the Egyptian fashion market lacks? What are certain strategies manufacturers or designers should practice more?  

Education in fashion is definitely something we need more of in Egypt. With proper theoretical and practical knowledge, designers will not only be able to create beautiful designs, but also actually build sustainable businesses. For this reason, I advise designers to try to gain as much knowledge through courses and workshops as possible when creating a brand.

Okhtein for Balmain

When you look back at 2022, what do you consider the biggest highlights for you and Flare?  

2022 was a challenging, yet very fun year for Flare. It was the year of ‘Metamorphosis’ as I like to call it. We broadened our focus further than fashion by tapping into the Lifestyle and Art & Design fields, which were all new worlds for us even if all luxury brands have numerous similarities. We grew our portfolio of clients locally and regionally and started establishing ourselves further in strategic partnerships and event PR – something that I had been holding on for a while. I think the year was full of key moments but if I would have to name a few they would be: the global collaboration we did between Balmain and Egyptian brands Okhtein and Azza Fahmy, the launch event of the new Cairo-based Kahhal Looms store in the Grand Egyptian Museum which was the first ever event to take place in the museum, the launch of the ‘Waking Up’ exhibition in Cairo with Kuwaiti-based art gallery Dar Al Funoon, and the fashion show of Indian-American designer Naeem Khan. Each project has been challenging and rewarding in its own way and I absolutely loved working on each one of them.

 What can we expect in 2023?

“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”. As cliché as that sounds, it really is true. As an agency, we have been setting yearly plans and every year they are disrupted with even better unexpected projects. I guess you will just have to follow us to see what adventures we will be going on this year and would love to take you with us on!