How She Got There: Muna Khalif, CEO & Founder of the Muna Khalif Brand

Name: Muna Khalif
Age: 23
Job Title and Description: CEO & Founder
College Name/Major: University of St. Thomas/Business Administration, Concentration: Entrepreneurship
Twitter Handle: @munakhalifbrand 
Instagram Handle: @munakhalifbrand

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

MK: My current job as head designer of the Muna Khalif brand entails coming up with the overall designs for the collection as well as the story I hope to convey to my customer - the overall aesthetic. However, as an entrepreneur and as a creative designer, there is no such thing as doing just one task. I have the pleasure of overseeing and at times doing everything from designing the collection to visiting the factory, approving prints, cuts and even fabric. There truly is no such thing as a typical day as a fashion designer. The industry is incredibly fast paced and you must be ready to be flexible with the tasks assigned to you and make it your own.

What is the best part of your job?

MK: The best part about my job is knowing that the clothes I make are making a difference in the lives of women who no longer have to comprise their religious and cultures believes for the sake of looking fashionable. Fashion and modesty do not inherently contradict. Fashion is simply about what is in vogue. What’s so exciting about designing in this space is about re-imagining the traditional, marrying the new with the old and ultimately telling many women like myself that you don’t have to choose - that you can, in fact, be stylish and also celebrate your cultural and religious values.

What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

MK: Having freshly graduated from college I was offered a job with a managing consulting firm. But after further reflection, I decided I was going to put my degree in entrepreneurship to use and follow my lifelong dream of starting an impactful and meaningful company in an industry that stole my heart at a young age.

What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?

MK: Words of wisdom my mentor shared with me is to always remember your purpose every day and don't ever lose sight of that because at the darkest times, it will be the only thing pushing you forward. Also, dare to be great and take every opportunity given to you, and risk it for your dream because the greatest investment you can truly make is for yourself. I will leave you with a quote I live by which is, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

MK: The biggest mistake I made at times and I think many entrepreneurs are guilty of this is wanting to control every aspect of the business because it really is your baby. If you have hired the right people, trust that they can execute the job in accordance with the highest standards and relinquish some control. 

What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

MK: The most surreal moment in my career thus far was when a college student came up to me and told me that my clothing gave her the confidence to wear the headscarf and the long business attire dresses to her job because for the first time in her life she felt beautiful in covering up without having to comprise her religious believes anymore. That moment further validated the purpose of my brand and that if I can make a difference in ones person life, its all worth it.

What do you look for when considering hiring someone?

MK: What I look for most is someone who's engaged with our vision and eager to learn but that is also capable of bringing value to the company. An individual who’s skilled at multi-tasking and isn't afraid to take on roles that they think they may not be ready for yet. Lastly, one of the most important qualities a potential candidate should have is a positive attitude. When an interviewee is excited and enthusiastic about the job, it will carry over in their performance. 

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

MK: As Steve Jobs so eloquently said, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish”. Which to me entails not being afraid to stand alone at times to take the risks the others may not see value in. I am a firm believer that we all have a purpose in life and only those of us who are resilient and persistent enough can truly find their calling. So look outside the narrow confines of the industries that interest you and think bigger. Lastly, be driven by passion, have fun doing it and love what you do because it is truly the only thing that can keep you going when things get difficult.

What's the one thing that's stood out to you the most in a resume?

MK: What really stands out to me on a resume is an individual who can convey a story as to how much they have grown. I like to see beyond the accomplishments and experiences they have but also what skills they have developed over the years and how it has helped shape them into the individual that stands before me.