Tena Durrani is a name that needs no introduction…the rainmaker behind the uber-successful label of the same name today represents the future of fashion in Pakistan. The creative, self-dubbed “perfectionist” may run a tight ship, but when it comes to her work it doesn’t take very long to understand why…”I’ve worked very, very hard to get to where I am,” she reveals. “I’ve put everything I have into this company. It’s my baby.”
At her studio in the posh Karachi suburb of Defence, Tena is kind enough to take an hour out of her jam-packed schedule for a quick tete-a-tete with The Karachiite. In ‘Koffee with Tena’, the normally media-shy personality gives us a sneak peak of just what it’s like to live and breathe in Tena’s world…
Run us through a day-in-the-life of Tena Durrani
Well I should warn you, it’s not very glamorous. I wake up early and go for a workout. I come to work by about 11 or 12 and leave by about 8-8:30, six days-a-week. By the time I get home I spend some time with my daughter, then dinner, maybe watch some DVD’s, then sleep.
What would you say separates the Tena Durrani brand from its competitors?
To be honest I don’t really look at what my competitors are doing…it’s my own bar that I have to exceed. What I feel, is that the immense amount of hard work that we put into this company and this product is what gives us the direction we have. Nothing’s up in the air. We know exactly where we want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, 15 years from now — so we’re not really looking at anyone else.
How do you personally draw the line between product and brand?
I actually don’t think about the brand. I only focus on the product. The only thing I have to do is create the most fantastic thing I can create. When it comes to the brand, a support system is key, and I’ve been very lucky with my partner in that way.
Would you say that’s the secret to running a successful fashion label?
Absolutely, if you can get a partner…but you also have to have a business plan. You have to know where you want to go; where you’re going to be three years from now and you have to stick to that. You need to have a great foundation. You need to have the capital and the business itself must be sustainable. I’ve always believed that if you’re weak at something, delegate it to people who are better at it than you.
You know how nowadays anyone with a Digital SLR is a “photographer”. Similarly anyone with an arts degree, an aspiring “fashion designer”. How do you feel about this notion?
As long as they do the product justice, then I think it’s okay. If the product is amazing, then I welcome the competition…it keeps me on my toes. But for those “fashion designers” who don’t actually earn the brand, rather buy it I think they’re just useless! I mean, what are you teaching your children?
As a Creative, tell us about your highs and lows
You know, I really used to punish myself…as soon as I would get done with a collection, as soon as I would finish, I would feel it’s not good enough. And my husband would tell me to just ‘chill out. Go with the flow’. Sometimes, you simply have to let your practical side take over. I have a great support system in my husband, my partner. But ultimately it’s all on you.
Are there any mantras you live by?
Only yesterday my sister told me that my pursuit should be of happiness. Have a macro view of your life, not a micro one. Having a macro view is so important because we get so caught up sometimes that we end up chasing success, not happiness.
Do you have any vices?
Well I eat a lot… and I love coffee! But my actual vice is being very, very critical of myself. And never being happy with my achievements. It’s not a good way to live but I deal with it. I work out, I pray five times-a-day. And I remember how important it is to count your blessings.
Tell us about some of the problems that Pakistan’s fashion scene faces today
Well a lot of it has to do with our lack of infrastructure. With the strikes and the fact that there are no labor laws, we’re really suffering. But our fashion scene overall is developing. There’s a fantastic vibe right now, and when you have a burgeoning scene, it also creates a lot of opportunities for emerging creative talent.
How do you deal in your quest for talent?
It’s exhausting to be honest. We do internships. We do interviews. Out of 50, you might find maybe one of two people that you actually like. We have a couple hundred people in my set-up but every single person has a purpose. Everyone has a function. And everyone needs to pull their weight.
If you could dress anyone in the World, who would it be?
Olivia Palermo, she’s GORGEOUS… As long as she doesn’t open her mouth! But the way she dresses, the way she looks — Flawless!
How do you like to spoil yourself?
ME-Time. That’s the biggest luxury I can ask for… Sadly, it doesn’t happen much.
If you won a thousand dollar Prize Bond, how would you spend it?
Oh I’d buy shoes! A thousand dollars’ worth of shoes… Jimmy Choos, Valentino, I’d buy them ALL!
The next place you want to visit?
I want to go to New York! I’ve never been there, but I feel like that would be the city of my dreams. I feel it in my bones. To tell you the truth, I’ve always felt that way!
As I sit here and reflect on my rather candid chat with Tena I am reminded of something I heard earlier in the week by culinary wizard Marco Pierre White. Marco says, “Success is born out of arrogance. But greatness comes from humility.”
There’s no question Tena Durrani is successful… But I think it is her humility that invokes the notion in me that someday (maybe even someday soon) her name will be used with reference to this country’s creative greats. People like Anwar Maqsood, Noor Jehan Bilgrami, Moin Akhtar and Abdur Rahman Chughtai. People who took the raw emerging artistic talent of this country and elevated it to new heights!