Omar Madkour

The Founder and Mastermind behind CFF

Cairo Fashion Festival is hands-down Egypt’s most anticipated fashion event, and it was all thanks to its curator Omar Madkour that it grew to be a cornerstone in the Middle Eastern fashion scene. We talked with Madkour about how the festival’s idea was born, the challenges he had to face, and the drive that brought him where he is today. 

Tell us how CFF was born?

The idea first started in 2012 when we witnessed the rise of the local fashion designers.

Very few designers were in the field at that time, but it was very promising for more designers to be born and a whole industry to see the light. We then decided to create a fashion platform and incubator to showcase those talents to the audiences, media and buyers.

What was the hardest part of founding the company?

The hardest was finding the funds to get the project on its feet. Any new idea or startup needs enough funds to sustain and start building a client base.

This was very difficult, as we did not have the chance to receive the needed funding by any investors or ventures to move on from this phase, not until we were credible enough for clients to start flowing.

The country was facing very critical political unrest at that time, too, which made it more difficult to find someone or an entity to believe and invest in a new concept which was not considered an essential at the time.

As an entrepreneur, what motivates and drives you?

The success of every single project I have taken up gives me enough motivation and keeps me going. Being a leader in the industry also gives me the motivation to stay on top.

How did you build up an entrepreneurial spirit, do you believe you were born with it or you did you develop it?

I believe I born with it. I’ve never once thought about getting employed since I graduated from college. But development was definitely needed to establish it and help push me further.

Would you consider yourself a risk taker?

I’m a huge risk-taker!

Were there any books that motivated you?

I hate reading. There are no specific books, but there are certain people and stories that motivated me. One of whom would be my father, who had the biggest hotel management company in the UK, holding our family name ‘Madkour Hotels.’ Back in the day, he was called “The Egyptian Tycoon” in Brighton, UK.

Do you think your mindset has been a key to your  success?

Mindset has definitely been a huge drive to where I am today.

What would you say are the key elements to starting a successful business?

I’ll be very short and to the point: honesty is one. Just be honest, and whatever that will cost you will be worth it. Patience is another. Starting a business is definitely a lengthy process that requires time, and without patience it will not work out. Also, be fair and nice with your team and the people you work with.

How do you deal with a bad day at work?

I get easily stressed out. I sometimes have to go for an escape by doing sports, swimming or sleeping. So I just try to refresh when needed, so I can get my thinking back on track.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

I work all the time, so if I am not working, I’m either dead or traveling. Travelling is my only real break and my favourite

escape. It’s a great way for me to fully disconnect from work and my monotonous routine.

What do you see next for CFF?

I see it as a fashion destination and an event that will take place on the world fashion map, with local designers for whom people attend from all around the world to see their trends.