Sandra Mansour says she has always been drawn to art and creation. So after completing her BA in business, she decided to go for a master’s degree in fashion design in Paris, and she has not looked back since.
After completing her master’s degree, Mansour worked for Elie Saab before launching her own brand. She believes that both her education and her experience with Saab shaped the process of her becoming a designer. “It gave me the platform and ability to create pieces stemming from an artistic background — that brings together my love for drawing with my love for creating and designing,” says Mansour, explaining that she now takes on summer interns, as she believes this hands-on experience gained at an atelier is essential for budding designers.
Mansour had her first international appearance in 2010 at Paris Fashion Week. She explains that such a high visibility platform gave her brand more exposure and created brand awareness.
Mansour designs a ready-to-wear line of evening dresses and makes made-to-order wedding gowns. While she says the bridal gowns are more financially viable than ready-to-wear, she explains that having the ability to provide both services allows clients the flexibility to purchase dresses for any occasion, therefore developing a loyal clientele.
Today, Mansour works from an atelier in Lebanon with a team of 20, including 12 tailors whom she describes as “highly skilled.”
Mansour sees the quality of craftsmanship in Lebanon as an advantage to working in the country. “Our atelier and workshop are located in Beirut with a Lebanese workforce of highly qualified craftsmen, which is a vital selling point for our international affiliates. Lebanese tailors are some of the best in the world, they have a skill passed down from generation to generation, and therefore they excel in the craft,” she states.
While Mansour says that she might consider expanding her presence, depending on their growth and strategy, she would not relocate from Lebanon. “Beirut is my hometown, and at this point I don’t see any reason to relocate,” she says.
Mansour says her biggest markets are the US, Middle East, and GCC. “These markets respond very well toward our designs, and most of our recurrent clientele come from them,” explains Mansour. She believes that designers like Elie Saab and others have paved the way for the industry in Lebanon, giving credibility to the potential and craftsmanship of Lebanese designers.