Your Name: Seema S. Sahin

Business Name: Modern Mary, a fashion brand for modern women

Type of Business: Clothing & Accessories

Business Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

Twitter @seemasahin

Reason for starting
The Muslim community is an underserved market in the American retail industry. These women are consumers, but continue to struggle finding products that fit their needs. Women shopping at major clothing brands have to be creative in order to piece together a modest look, which can be both difficult and expensive. I wanted to create a hassle free shopping experience for these women, offering them a fashionable alternative that already fits with the guidelines of their faith. My designs give women the chance to express themselves while being true to their identity. For most Muslim women it can be challenging finding styles that express their cultural heritage, American identity, and at the same time being true to their faith. What motivates me is trying to reconcile these three forces and translate them into my designs.

How do you define success?
In order to reach success, I believe a person has to be passionate, open-minded, and determined. Without passion, there is no dream. Without an open mind, there is no willingness to learn. And without determination, the risk of failure is higher.

Biggest Success
Reinventing high fashion to meet the needs of women seeking modest clothing. Being able to help women feel confident without them having to compromise their values. I am able to give women the chance to express themselves while being true to their identity. Because I am able to provide a product of value, my brand continues to grow and I get to see women of all faiths, ethnicities, and cultures wear my designs proudly. That has been MODERNMARY’s biggest success.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Being able to balance the role of being a mother, a wife, a designer, and an entrepreneur. I’m still working to achieve that balance, but thankfully my passion for designing is what keeps me going. It’s a combination of time-management, organization, and accommodation. Time management and staying organized helps me balance my time with my family and business. Managing a schedule that works for both myself and my family is key, for example scheduling with my husband or other family members to help watch my kids when I have an event, or need to be at the boutique. Thankfully I have a great support network I can turn to when seeking advice and guidance- from family to colleagues

Who is your most important role model?
My husband. Not only did he help me start my company but he taught me how to be a better entrepreneur. When I made the decision to launch a fashion label, the designing aspect came easy, it was the entrepreneurial aspect that I needed to accept as a challenge. Instead of running the business himself with his work experience, he challenged me to take on new roles and learn the ins and outs of running a business. He taught me the importance of a willingness to learn and having a strong work ethic.