Distinctive By Design: Faux Consultancy Founder Firras Alwahabi
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Firras Alwahabi is the founder of Faux Consultancy, an enterprise that he describes as a full-service communications and creative agency that focuses on offering “a balanced range of services for niche luxury brands,” with its offerings including public relations (PR), events, social media, sales, and more. As a firm that’s largely focused on the fashion industry, Faux -which Alwahabi launched in 2011, when he was only 21 years of age- has been working with some of the Middle East’s most celebrated designers, as well as global luxury brands seeking to make a dent in the region, with its roster of clients including Farfetch, Carolina Herrera, Shopbop, ASOS, AMI Paris, and more. “Faux Consultancy was founded on the principle of being a positive, disruptive force in the fashion industry,” Alwahabi says. “We launched with a strong focus on creating a voice, and a platform for representation for the leading creative talent in the region, and since then, the business has naturally and organically grown to now be focused much more on global and niche luxury brands, spanning fashion, lifestyle, and beyond.”
Alwahabi says that Faux was established with the intention of championing Arab talent in the fashion industry, while also being a platform to help international brands to thrive in the region. “When Faux was founded, the industry was really crying out for global standard representation, and assistance with brand development,” Alwahabi recalls. “Faux very quickly became the hub for press to discover the best talent from the region, and we also took those standout designers to the rest of the world, through the launch of Faux’s seasonal showroom in Paris. Over the past eight years, Faux has grown exponentially in terms of our clients, capacity, and profile, thanks to our approach to consultancy, which is unique in the region… The key to success here, as it is elsewhere, is identifying a real need within the market, and ensuring that what you’re offering isn’t just a great quality product, but something with a real point of difference. Faux has been thriving, because while there are some incredible agencies in the region, we offer a distinctly different approach, which has been massively successful for the clients that we work with.”
The Faux Consultancy office in Beirut.
With offices in Dubai and Beirut, Faux prides itself on having a bespoke approach to client servicing, and this particular characteristic has been especially evident in the way Alwahabi has been growing the business over the last couple of years. “Beyond Faux Consultancy as an agency, it’s been an exciting couple of years for the business, as we also diversify into new and exciting growth opportunities,” he says. “The first of these was the launch of Faux Studios, our stand-alone, full-service photography facility in Dubai Design District. This has complemented our creative services offering at the agency perfectly, given that we can now offer photographic studio, graphic design and art direction services in-house. The most recent launch for the business has been Facilité, an event and retail concept space in Dubai Design District. We had identified, from our operations as a niche luxury agency, a gap in the market for incredible, flexible spaces that were convertible for events, exhibitions, performances, and residencies, and so we decided to create one ourselves! Facilité has quickly become a hub for incredible brand activations, with Loewe, Bottega Veneta, and Madiyah Al Sharqi amongst the first to take over the space for their own concepts.”
As an entrepreneur working in the PR and communications space, Alwahabi has plenty of insights to share on how brands should be leveraging opportunities in this particular arena. “Without a doubt, the major trend in PR and communications continues to be influencer engagement,” Alwahabi says. “What is changing is the way that brands and agencies are being forced to change the way that they interact with influencer talent. It’s no longer relevant to work with influencers in a simplistic way, focused on securing individual posts and tag. Where Faux has really set itself apart is the strength of our influencer relationships in the region, allowing us to develop much more engaging, long-term collaborations that create real impact, engagement, and commercial results for our clients.” When asked about the mistakes brands make in this domain, Alwahabi pointed toward a lack of understanding on what it takes to really make a splash on the media landscape. “We have seen brands in the past suffer due to an oversimplified approach to PR and marketing,” he says. “Developing great press assets and a beautiful campaign is key, but the nuances of PR lie in personal relationships, an in-depth understanding of the media landscape, and a very tailored approach to strategy. That’s why working with an agency can be truly transformative.”
Facilité, an event and retail concept space by Faux Consultancy in Dubai Design District
When it comes to advice for his peers in the entrepreneurial domain, Alwahabi starts with a directive to be brave and take risks. “Some of the greatest successes in Faux’s development have been as a result of taking strategic risks,” he says. “Opening new offices, making investments, and expanding our portfolio at key moments have all contributed to the agency building the stature it has today.” Next comes a warning against complacency- an issue not just for startups, but well-established corporates as well. “Try not to fall into habits for the sake of it. Reassessing supplier relationships, internal systems, and strategies regularly help to ensure your business stays healthy and high-functioning- there’s always room for improvement.” Alwahabi goes on to then echo an oft-repeated but obviously integral sentiment that entrepreneurs need to always keep in mind, which is that your business is only as strong as your team. “Place a focus on seeking out the best talent to build a diverse and highly skilled team, and your capacity will naturally grow,” he says. Finally, Alwahabi says that entrepreneurs should always set their own benchmarks for success, and reach them in their own way. “It’s too easy in any industry to look at your competitors and follow their lead,” Alwahabi declares. “It’s more interesting and rewarding to work in your own style, and pave your own path to success.”