My name is: Kenza Sophie Bent Kamel Fourati. That’s my full name on my Tunisian ID, but Kenza will do!
My stomping ground is: New York mostly, but I like to feel home wherever I am. I love to spend time at the atelier in Tunis. I love to navigate in between worlds and cultures.
I’m known for being: The co-founder of OSAY, an artisan label created to empower makers and customers by offering the most comfortable and versatile footwear.
Because of my background, because of having a foot in each world, between East and West, I believe in bridging conversations through storytelling. I believe in empowering artisans by creating dignified, estimated and creative work. I believe in questioning each touching point of our consuming habits; I believe in ethical sourcing. I believe in broadening perspectives and leading with empathy. Our motto at OSAY is, “Walk a mile in my shoes.”
I’m talking about: We love equalizing when it comes to creativity. We believe in shared collaborative efforts with the artisans; it is the most democratic process. We believe in preserving craftsmanship and making it relevant to today’s urban world.
Before I started this work, I was: I am a model and I grew up in the fashion industry. I am a bit of an outsider as almost no one was from my part of the world and I had no one to recognize myself in. The industry today is more diverse and inclusive.
I am, first and foremost, a mother and I question everyday values, legacy and the world we are leaving to the next generations.
My interest was sparked when: We have a responsibility and accountability towards the “invisible” part of the supply chain. Who makes our clothes? In what conditions? What is the cost to the planet? I also tend to be against the “normative” ways of the fashion industry. I am very inspired by women and men out there challenging the status quo, driven by values. These are the people we like to celebrate at OSAY. These are the stories we like to share.
I am learning a lot about operations, policies, financing, accounting and marketing. I am getting a massive crash course on so many levels and, because for so long my voice wasn’t valued, I suffer from imposter syndrome all the time. But I am working on myself.
The idea behind it is: What I love about what we do is that we actually haven’t recreated the wheel. Our shoe is inspired by a centuries old shoe that we have modernized to make it sleek, practical, chic, modern, versatile and, more than anything, ethical. Each style is a limited series, yet our price point is affordable. It is the epitome of new luxury. There is nothing like it, nothing out there that celebrates heritage in such a modern way.
My favorite lesser-known detail is: All of our leather is upcycled, meaning we have created programs with several tanneries and leather factories where we get the overstock and excess for a no waste approach. It makes us sustainable to the core, but it is also very challenging because we depend on what we source entirely.
What it means to me to create something with intention is: Everything I try to do is with intention, whatever I do, from running the business to cooking and spending time with my friends or family. I try to do everything with mindfulness and create rituals, by elevating even the most mundane aspects of life. Everything I post is also very intentional. We have a responsibility to amplify and elevate certain voices or injustices in this world.
I think what allowed me to be fearless enough to create this in this way was: I didn’t feel I actually had the choice. I am what I call a reluctant entrepreneur. I feel a responsibility towards our makers, our team, my co-founders and also our customers, our community. And that what keeps me going. This is what makes me fearless, but also extremely fearful at the same time.
I hope that my customers walk away feeling: Like walking on a cloud to change the world with empathy. I hope my customers walk away connecting more than ever with their peers.
The item that I currently can’t live without is: I live in my Leo. I have always done since the beginning of OSAY and will always do. It is our neutral, but fierce, which is our customer.
It would make a perfect holiday gift because: It is the perfect hostess gift. OSAY shoes take you places, but they are also the perfect slippers to cozy up at home.
The Live The Process piece on my list is: The Pillar slip dress and the bodysuits.
The words I live by are: Truly it is, “Walk a mile in my shoes.” Also, I am acutely aware that talent is everywhere, but opportunities are not, so we have to help create them for communities and areas that don’t have them.
One truth that is so important, but people don’t always realize is: It is always about the process and the journey, not the destination.