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Banana’z towel project hits the beach

Banana’z is the name behind the funky and stylish towels that have been spotted on the beaches of the North Coast. Hala Zakaria Tawfik and her daughter Shahira Zaki are the women behind this successful project. The aim is to offer the market exclusive designs that can’t be found elsewhere. Al-Masry Al-Youm spoke to the businesswoman about her products and about the Facebook group used to promote it.

Al-Masry Al-Youm: When did the project start?
Hala Zakaria Tawfiq: It started six years ago. I had an outlet that sold Spanish tiles and when the recession hit, we added Egyptian-made goods to alleviate the impact of the economic crisis. We sold everything related to bathrooms. So, I started to produce my own brand of bathroom towels and they sold very well. I was contacted by several shops and I am a regular at many open days around the city.
Al-Masry: How did the Facebook group come about?  
Tawfik: It was my daughter Shahira’s idea; she handles the marketing and sales. The group was launched a few weeks ago.
Al-Masry: What is your price range and who do you target?
Tawfik: My prices are pretty affordable at LE80 for two guest towels and LE150 for the beach towel. My products aren’t like everything else, they are a bit special and I aim them at people who appreciate a good idea and an unusual concept.
Al-Masry: Would you eventually open your own outlet?
Tawfik: I prefer to create a name and brand loyalty. However, Shahira believes that at some point after the brand has become well known opening up an outlet would be the natural next step.
Al-Masry: What inspires you to create the designs?
Tawfik: Well, it just comes to me naturally like drawing or painting–the creation process is time-consuming but very stimulating and rewarding. I have to be up to date with current fashion in colors, then I go on a huge shopping trip for shells, stones, and faux gems. In a work session, I start mixing and matching to finalize the design and create a pattern. I usually produce between 10 and 20 pieces a day.

Al-Masry: Does Banana’z produce other products?
Tawfik: Yes, we produce cushions and table cloths. I also thought of designing sarongs but the idea needs more time than I expected. So I guess I’ll stick to towels for now and then we’ll see.  
Al-Masry: How many members are there in the Banana’z team?
Tawfik: My daughter Shahira, and I, and two workers who do the sewing.
Al-Masry: How do you promote your project?
Tawfik: We are very much a seasonal project, our products are always pegged to a season, summer, Christmas, Ramadan etc. and each season brings its own ideas and promotional strategy. I believe there will be a bigger demand for guest towels during Ramadan.

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