Interview with Soufi Esmaeilzadeh, CEO of Desquval


– Tell me about your background

I’m the founder of Desquval, I live in NYC, and my background is pretty mixed: I have a Bachelor’s in Engineering from Brown, and after college I worked in management consulting for a few years. But I always had an interest for fashion and design, and I went to Harvard Business School with the intention of moving into the fashion industry after completing my MBA.

– How did you come up with the idea of starting an online platform for emerging designers?

Everything happened last summer when I was in New York interning at Armani Corp. Simultaneously, because I love the fashion world, and I have a business background, my friends started introducing me to young designers who wanted to discuss their growth strategy. I sat down with them and began diving into the structure of the retail ecosystem and learning more about different platforms and players that are out there.  I experienced a sense of excitement when I listened to the designers rave about their products, spill out their minds and passions. I realized that there was no avenue that allowed design lovers to access the products of these talented designers and understand their creations the way I understood them when I sat in their studios.  Contemporary retail options do not meet the desire for uniqueness and differentiation that so many people have today. That’s when I thought that this is an amazing opportunity to help emerging designers build an awareness of their brands among consumers, and to provide consumers with a platform for developing their unique styles with the help of emerging designers with a proven track record.

– How does Desquval select its designers?

We put a lot of time and energy into selecting our designers. Desquval’s name encompasses three selection parameters: Design, Quality and Value. Our designers have a proven track record, several collections under their belts, as well as press coverage that demonstrates that their products are accepted not only by us but by the wider fashion industry. And when we think about product value, we think about price points that are accessible in the contemporary high-end range. We are trying to shoot for products that range from $200 to $1000.

– Who is a Desquval woman?

She can be very different in many ways, but with one underlying commonality: the Desquval woman loves new designs and is curious about them. She wants to express her personality through the pieces she puts on when she steps out of her house. A Desquval woman can be of any age: 20,30,40,50, there are no age limitations on the clothing that we are featuring.

– Why did you pick New York as your headquarters?

New York was an easy choice for Desquval’s headquarters. NYC is the center of it all. It is where so many talented designers are graduating from top design schools, it’s where the biggest fashion networks are positioned. I realized that if we wanted to be a real player that could make a difference in this ecosystem, we needed to be where it’s all happening.

– What is your relationship with fashion like?

I’m a designista, I’m someone who loves design, who appreciates it when things are well-made, different, with a unique aesthetic and a story behind them.  And that’s what excites me about this business and that’s what excites me every time I meet a designer. I think people connect with the things that bring an emotional sensation out of them visually, and that’s Desquval’s main focus. When I sit down with a designer, I always think about what emotion his or her designs are going to bring out in a woman when she sees them on a website and when she puts them on to go out in the evening or  to the office during the day. I want the woman who makes a purchase from Desquval to feel special. Because design and fashion is art.

– How is Desquval different from sample sale websites?

I think sample sale websites have a great value proposition for consumers, but Desquval is about selling special and unique products at a great value. Our products have limited distribution, they are not mass-produced, they are worth their value. And unlike the sample sale websites, our model is based on allowing designers and consumers to build relationships with each other. We want our consumers to have the time to find the designers that they can really identify with and want to become loyal to.

– What do you envision Desquval to be like in a year?

In a year I want Desquval to be a company that has done a great job at curating excellent product with the help of designers, and where consumers can not only access products but enjoy interesting editorial content generated by the designers and our editorial team.

Desquval is about more than just the product, it’s about art and creativity. The idea-sharing process between designers and consumers is very important to me.

One Response to “Interview with Soufi Esmaeilzadeh, CEO of Desquval”
  1. Dana says:

    I am so pleased that there is finally a website dedicated to smaller designers that have the talent and quality of well known brands but not the recognition.
    Great job! I look forward to visiting this website for new developments.

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