The fashion industry of Philadelphia has some of the most creative minds in the country. Hypefresh Magazine recently got to meet one of them. Hanifah Samad, CEO and founder of Fason De Viv, recently graced us with her presence as she visited our office to have a sit down with us. Fason De Viv, which means lifestyle in Haitian creole, is a fashion brand based in Philadelphia which curates and produces women’s clothing as well as sells home, beauty, and wellness products.
Hanifah was born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. At age four, she immigrated to America and settled in Philadelphia. Hanifah was first exposed to the fashion industry through her own curiosity. She often wondered how retail worked and imagined herself as a retailer. This eventually led her to study retail and how to be a good buyer. As she started learning more about retail and merchandising, she started to gain an appreciation for the industry.
“As a buyer, I started to fall in love, not just with fashion, but just with clothes in general, like fabrics, and style, and cuts and things like that.”
Hanifah has been buying clothes for six years and designing her own for three years. When she makes a purchase a buyer, she thinks about the brands that she carries. She looks at her own brand’s message and asks herself why she is buying this product. As a designer, she just has fun. She loves using prints and colors in her designs. If she cannot find a certain style of clothing that she wants to buy, then she will just craft it herself.
Hanifah’s culture has greatly impacted Fason De Viv. When Hanifah first started, her brand name was the A-list look. The concept behind it was to give shoppers a celebrity look without spending celebrity money. In 2016, Hanifah took her first trip back to Haiti. She went to a market place on her visit. She observed how the market had many different businesses which all operated in one large curated marketplace. Reconnecting with her culture inspired her to re-imagined her business as a brand which curated other black own brands. She re-branded A-list as Fason De Viv and has been using the business model of the Haitian marketplace since her visit. The concept of Haiti being an independent black country has also deeply affected Hanifah.
“I’m apart of this independent country. You know what I’m saying, it fits with the brand. Because, as an independent brand, and carrying independent brands, and buying from independent brands, and I want to support independent brands. It goes back to my home where, I was born. Even the history of my parents too and how they met. The Haitian culture, and the Haitian history of independence is black country. It’s something that just deep core. It just fits who I am.”
Hanifah is also inspired by black women in general. “As black women, we have some much vibrate energy behind us when it comes to our style.” She cites Kelis as a major influence on her. Hanifah is galvanized by how Kelis’s style is always different. “She’s really like a unicorn, you never know with Kelis.”
According to Hanifah, a Fason De Viv item is a “piece that’s in your closet that when you feel like making a statement, you can just grab.” She sees her clothes as pieces that will last longer in a person wardrobe. She compared her clothing to vintage clothes, in terms of how long her clothes last. Hanifah thinks outside the box when she is designing and buying clothes. She does not want to simply follow any sort of trend. She wants to create something new and fresh constantly.
‘“The woman that has that piece that would just be like, oh let me add this funky blazer to this basic piece.”
Hanifah says that Fason De Viv is a brand which teaches women that if you feel good, you look good. “The woman who wears Fason De Viv, she knows who she is, she knows her history.” Her brand is for women who are comfortable with expressing themselves, especially with fashion. Fason De Viv is for women who are know what they want and are educated about themselves and the world.
“The woman who shops Fason De Viv, is supporting other entrepreneurs. She is conscious, educated, strong, beautiful, and powerful.”
For Hanifah, fashion is her form of expression and art-form. Every woman that she dresses is her canvas. She enjoys empowering women through her styles. “When I dress someone, for whatever she needs to be dressed for whatever it is, even if it’s taking the kids to the park, or yoga, that is her happy space, because of what she’s wearing.” She takes pride in putting people together. “Layers is art because it’s like color. You’re layering art. Like paint on a canvas.”
Fason De Viv has had a retail space for six years and an online presence for two years. While Hanifah is enjoy having her company online, she still appreciates having a physical space for it. Currently she is looking for a new retail space for Fason De Viv. Though, she’s fought a lot of good space, she has not found one that she can say “this is the space.” She is also looking to expand the brands which she curates from and her staff.
Hanifah is most proud of how her buyer skills have developed. She has learned a lot as a buyer. When Hanifah got in the fashion and wellness scene, she hardly saw any black owned brands. She went out of her way to find black owned products which she could sell through Fason De Viv. Hanifah created a network of black owned brands in an industry where they are scarce. “My buying skills got better, and my partnerships and collaborations got better. And I think that’s important when it comes to my brand.”
Fason De Viv has taught Hanifah how to live an authentic lifestyle. It is who she is. Through her brand, she has learned patience, and how powerful that she is. “My brand taught me how to be a better woman.” It has taught her various things, ranging from how to manage money to how she wants to carry herself. Fason De Viv taught her who she is.
For advice to other brands, Hanifah would to say to take it one day at a time. It is okay if you want to change your brand name. It is okay if you are stuck. Just take it one day at a time, and be patient.