Interview by Elizabeth Presse
Lubna Najjar, a traveling entrepreneur and businesswoman, is the founder of IL Moda Brand Development. She is a consultant to many local brands and serves on the Fashion Week Columbus Board of Directors. Lubna is helping the community by creating manufacturing and production capabilities to take the businesses of Columbus to the next level. Her “hub of designers” are all hired often and respected in the local fashion community for their talent and potential. The design world is difficult, but it is all about working your way up by knowing your audience and the target demographic of a particular brand or area. Lubna keeps her inspiration and her passion for creativity, business, and design at the top of her mind everyday.
Name: Lubna Najjar
Occupation: Founder/Consultant at IL Moda Brand Development
Connect: LinkedIn | Twitter (Lubna Designs) | Instagram (Lubna Designs) | Instagram (IL Moda) | Instagram (personal)
Are you originally from Columbus?
I am not originally from here. I grew up in Amman, Jordan and then moved to Northeast Ohio. I moved to Columbus in 2008 to start my PR/Apparel consulting career.
Give us a snapshot of your career path:
I worked for a large corporation in PR and Finance for a few years and upon completion of my MBA, I started my business called Lubna Designs, Inc and then started consulting pre-market and market ready brands. I now travel all over the world to meet with merchants, clients and retailers that we consult.
What advice has helped guide you in your career?
“Be true to yourself and never let a failure bring you down. Failing is just as much a part of winning as winning is.”
Tell us about your work in the Columbus fashion scene:
I am a brand consultant to a few local brands helping them manufacture, develop and position themselves in the market. I also sit on the board of directors for Fashion Week Columbus, Power of Women Ohio, and the Better Business Bureau.
How does Columbus compare – in your experience – to other fashion-forward cities? What do we have going for us? What are we missing?
As far as fashionable people, we have a lot of that! But as far as leading the industry in manufacturing and sourcing, we are far behind. I love Columbus but we are still in need of manufacturing and production capability here. I am working hard to get us there!
How do cities in the “Big Four” (fashion capitals) see us in relation to them and to the rest of the world?
They definitely see us as a hub of designers! They hire so many of our talent and they are excited to see KSU, OSU and CCAD applicants come to them for career opportunities.
What should we be keeping an eye out for this coming spring season?
Spring 2018 is a fun season because we carry over pastels, mesh, hemline variety and desert vibes. I am excited for more color and print mixing.
When you are designing, where do you draw your inspiration?
I am drawn to fabrics, fits and versatility. In design, it’s important to know your audience and design for the target demographic.
What gets you up in the morning? And what keeps you going through the work week?
I love my work! I have built such an awesome company full of creativity, business to business negotiations and more. My brand development clients are such a pleasure to work with! Every day is different and I am always excited for the challenge.
What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
I work out a ton. I love my family, friends and traveling! You’ll see my escapades on my personal IG page.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I speak English, Arabic and Spanish fluently! Arabic is my first language.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
A business woman. I knew I wanted to be in design whether it was architecture or business leadership.
If you could have a superpower, which would you choose?
Healing one’s health!
What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
I love all TED Talks. I like to choose them by theme and timing.
What would your autobiography be called?
A Passion Driven Life.
What are among the top places you’d recommend to someone who is visiting or new to Columbus?
I would definitely recommend the Short North as an art, food and locals hub. I always tell people to make an effort to make it out to showcases at any of the theaters, the universities, and the museum.
What’s the coolest thing about Columbus right now?
I love the growing small businesses and the creative arts growing throughout our city. As a small business owner, I love seeing others pursue their passions and continue to work at them. Taking a chance on myself leaving my corporate job to start my own business was a major risk that I will forever reap the benefits of.
What’s the coolest thing about Columbus fashion right now?
With Fashion Week Columbus and other organizations honing in on our talent locally and regionally, they are providing the stage for fashion designers and fashion aficionados to express themselves and pursue fashion as a culture. I love seeing fashion everywhere here and I hope to see more support from the city and state as our businesses grow.
What are two things that you think Columbus needs (or wish Columbus had)?
Better and more efficient transit system for all areas of our region and a Fashion District with opportunities for mid-tier brands to move to Columbus and build their businesses here.
Tell us about an upcoming initiative that you’re passionate about?
I am deeply ingrained in my business right now as we build Spring / Summer ’19 collections for international labels. But in my downtime, I am 100% committed to FWC and the BBB to ensure that new businesses have the same and better opportunities as entrepreneurs following their dreams.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
The pulse of our city is 100% our communities and their commitment to making themselves better, through camaraderie, business and the arts.