Kotn: Egyptian-Canadian Brand Makes the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List
by Nadine Arab
When it comes to youth’s burning desire to reinvent the world and make a change, the flame is never put out. This was highly noticeable in the latest and 7th edition of Forbes’ 30 Under 30. Oh, and guess who made it on the list of the year 2018? Egyptian-Canadian brand, Kotn!
Forbes 30 Under 30, is an annual encyclopedia of creative disruption featuring 600 young rising stars in 20 different fields. It includes a variety of categories such as finance, healthcare, art and style, sports, and more. Kotn proudly made it to the retail and e-commerce list. Forbes relies on their online community, ace reporters and their A-list judges to carefully select the nominated candidates.
Kotn was founded in 2015 when all three co-founders, Rami Helali, 29; Benjamin Sehl, 29; and Mackenzie Yeates, 28, joined forces. The concept was conceived after the then-high school friends started their career lives within the creative industry and wore basic t-shirts everyday to work. This is when it hit them — they realized the market’s need for affordable and high quality t-shirts. They wished for a brand that treats everyone along the supply chain fairly. From there, the brand identity that is reflected in their namesake evolved. Kotn, which means cotton in Arabic, focuses on their main raw material, Egyptian cotton. The remarkable fiber that’s grown in the Nile Delta, is the finest and softest cotton in the world. The company supports local farmers and manufacturers as every single step in the process, from raw cotton to the final garments, takes place in Egypt.
Of course, their biggest obstacle was finding out how the supply chain for Egyptian cotton and apparel manufacturing worked, since nobody had a background in the industry. Especially because there were no subsidies for Egyptian cotton farmers at that time, and many of them were abandoning the crop for more profitable ones. The challenge was to try to convince them not to, bearing in mind that they had no pre-existing relationship with the farmers. Lucky for them, their hard work paid off.
Kotn’s effort to give back to the economy didn’t stop there. They’ve collaborated with Misr Al Kheir to build schools all over the Nile Delta in attempt to improve the overall quality of life by trying to reduce poverty, child labor and illiteracy in the region. They recently finished working on their first school and are planning on funding another by the end of this year. They have a goal to build 50 schools by the year 2025.
Additionally, Kotn loves interacting with their customers. This could be shown on their website, in their Journal tab to be more specific. The Journal is a place where interesting topics are explored and artists could showcase their work. The creative team who is responsible, and the network of incredible contributors, spend lots of times selecting a variety of interesting stories that compliment their brand’s identity.
Kotn is planning to open three more stores in Canada, other than the one in Toronto, by 2018. They also have other plans to open more stores in the US shortly after. Most importantly, they’re planning to have their first physical space in Egypt in 2018, as well as a space that reflects their brand identity while creating a novel retail experience.