Q&A With The Founder Of thowby

thowby ثـوبـي

Posted on December 09 2023

Q&A With The Founder Of thowby


Greetings everyone! I’m Houda Abdulrahman, the founder of thowby. I welcome you to this blog, a compilation of all your questions and my answers. Please feel free to ask me more questions and I will be more than happy to answer them for you. You can write to me on my social media platforms or reach out to me via my website. So let’s dive into the Q&A.

1 - Why did you start thowby?

I have always wanted to start a business since a young age because it gives you the freedom to be creative and do things the way you want it. I was very keen about modest fashion and wanted to do something along this line. Funny enough I even started buying fabric rolls way before I could even think of starting a business because I loved to stock materials that I liked. Initially, I thought I would make shaylas, the head scarves. One day I was sitting down with my mother for a cup of tea and had everything planned out for my business and she looked at me and said, “mama why don’t you do abayas?” That was my first point of realization that this is truly what I’m passionate about and this is what I should pursue. She lit that light for me. I love abaya and I wear them all the time and one of the most important factors that led me to start this business is that I would never be satisfied with the designs, fitting or quality of fabric when I would want to buy. I wanted to solve that for myself and many others like me. That’s how thowby started.


2 - Did you have any formal experience in running a business or in the fashion industry?

I had been working as a professional in the corporate world all my life and that experience proved to be my backbone in running my thowby business. In any business, the support system (marketing, HR, finance department, IT support, administration, customer care department) and the product itself are the two main factors that complement each other to make a successful business. I have been able to work in all these sectors and it allowed me to have a strong base for my own business. As far as fashion is concerned, I have always been very interested and particular about matching colours and fabric materials together, the details are very important to me.

3 - What inspired you to name your business thowby? What’s the meaning and significance?

The name ‘thowby’ came from a place of knowing from my marketing experience that the name of the brand is very important. I wanted to look for a brand name that would reflect what I do and what I stand for through this. It must be simple yet profound. In my research to look for a name, I found this perfect name which directly meant what I was selling and it also captured the authentic cultural essence of it. It’s an Arabic word and it stemmed from the word ‘thobe’ which means it’s a piece of clothing that you wear over your garment and it extends below your knees. I added the extra ‘ya’ in the end to give it exclusivity which means ‘my’ so it becomes ‘my dress’. 

I used this concept to bring out the core value of our brand which focuses on individuality by giving each wearer a feeling that it was made exclusively for them because it fits perfectly like a glove with customization. Not a standard size or fit. Our tagline extends the same significance - ‘your original abaya’


4 - What are thowby’s strengths as a brand?

One of the main strengths that hold my brand strong is the inclusivity it brings by just being simple yet very elegant. Though my product has a traditional background linked to it, it does not specify the kind of women it is made for. It is made for any woman who likes simple, modest, and elegant clothing. It does not restrict women who are non-muslims from wearing it. This quality of my brand and product makes it stand strong in any market and amongst any audience. 

I have some other strong points that I have built from scratch to be followed without fail and these points are the strong pillars of my brand by which my clients remember and respect me. I never compromise with the quality of the Abaya, it is high-end; be it the finishing of the stitching, the quality of the fabric, or the perfection of the fit. My clients know that they get quality only. This strong point retains for me a loyal clientele. 

One such strong point is flawless client service. I make sure that I go to lengths to make them feel heard and respected from the point of contact for the order to the delivery. I’m always available to accommodate their needs and queries. The genuine reviews by my happy clients will assure you of that.

5 - What are the perks of buying from thowby?

According to me the best perk of buying from thowby is that my clients always come back to me saying that every time they wear a thowby abaya they get a lot of compliments because of the quality. The benefit of buying from thowby is that it’s like an investment because it stays for long and never goes out of style as it’s a classic design.

Our prices are affordable for such high-quality Abayas and we offer free shipping globally.

We have a cash-on-delivery service within the UAE and we also offer options to pay in instalments through Tabby and Cashew on our website.


6 - How do you present the sizes for your abayas? Are they standard sizes or custom sizes?

If you come to thowby for an Abaya, no matter what size you are, we will make the perfect fit abaya just for you. We have a sizing chart and range which we use to help clients give us the correct measurements. But we have ready Abayas in standard sizes that we sell in our offline stores. But all our online Abaya orders are custom-made. So we offer all sizes, be it plus size abayas or any size abayas. We communicate with each client as soon as they place the order in order to ensure that we have the right size for them, and we're grateful that this method has been successful with us since we started our business. We use the measurements of the clients and add our special touch to give them the perfect length and fit. 

7 - What are the 4 things that are extremely crucial to start a business?

Starting a business is not everyone’s cup of tea unless they are extremely sure of what they want to do and are passionate about. That is the first thing and the most important starting point. Always have a plan of what you will do and how you will do it.

The second most important thing is the capital. Does not have to be big capital, you don’t have to do everything at once. It is good to have just about enough to start. 

The third most important thing is your product or service which must be at its best so that once they use your product or service, they will always remember you for the value for their money.

Lastly, you need marketing which is what will help you establish your product in the market for your clients. Because you can have the idea, capital, and product all done perfectly well, but taking it to the right client makes your business commercial and successful. 

Above all, have perseverance and don’t give up, never give up. Your reliance on God will take you to greater heights, that is the only thing that can guide you through every situation and give you success.

8 - What are the absolute no-nos that you want to caution start-up founders about from your experience?

To be honest, you will always make mistakes no matter how careful and particular you are. But it’s okay because what you learn from your mistakes is always a valuable lesson that will stay with you. It will teach you to do better. 

However, there are a few things I learned from my journey and I’ll share them with you so that you can be more careful. Before spending money on services, a support system, or any kind of investment to make your business better, do your homework thoroughly. Be very sure before investing.

You need to set up the right team with the right attitude. Do not compromise on that, especially on the attitude part. Their talent and skill come second to their attitude. 

Another absolute no-no is the quality of your product or service. Never compromise with the quality of your product in terms of the materials, finishing, fit, etc. and never take your clients for granted. Never compromise with client service, they will always remember how they were treated. This builds the brand value, if they feel respected and taken special care of, they will always come back. Always listen to them and use that feedback to do better. Without them, you don’t have a business so keep them always at the front. 

9 - What other products do you offer apart from Abayas?

We specialize in Abayas but we go one step ahead and offer a set comprising of a matching shayla and under abaya dress or inner dress as you call it. The client has the option to buy it as a set or separately.  This is something unique that we offer for our clients so that they don’t have to shop for the other parts separately. Most times you don’t find the shaylas and under abaya dresses in the same colour. This is one problem I wanted to solve with my brand. If my clients like to buy as a set, they can do that. I offer unique colours so they get everything as a set if they want in the same colour and fabric. 

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