Meet Muriel Salimin, founder and visionary behind MUUR. Growing up in the Netherlands and attending fashion school in Amsterdam, Muriel had adventurous dreams to follow the big city lights of New York after graduating. She made the brave (and pretty bold!) decision to up sticks and move to New York without employment or knowing anyone in the city. It took a few visits traipsing the streets with her portfolio, but soon enough Pepe Jeans took a chance on her.
After a diverse career in the fashion industry, watching how it changed over the years, Muriel decided in 2018 to found MUUR - knowing she had a higher calling to combine her passion for travel and design while at the same time offer economic stability to developing countries.
From reading a bit about your background I am so impressed (and a little terrified!) that after graduating you went to NY with no work visa in the search of a job! That is so brave. What was it about NY that made you so set on living and working there?
My graduation collection at Fashion College in Amsterdam was inspired by the hip hop and streetwear culture and it sparked something inside of me. I was very interested in the streetwear brands that were coming out of the US and I had my heart set on becoming a designer for one of them. I went to New York multiple times with my portfolio trying to get noticed by those brands and network – it’s all about networking! I met some amazing people during that time and some of them are still my friends today, over 20 years later! I finally got my chance at Pepe Jeans – who hired me! I moved to New York and have loved every minute of it since. I eventually ended up working for Sean John which was my ultimate goal. I followed a dream and it came true.
What was the inspiration behind starting MUUR?
Simply put it was to support artisans in developing countries. By having regular work and income they can sustain themselves and their families and I knew I could help in providing this. I have always wanted to be totally transparent to our customers and I want them to know who makes the beautiful products they purchase and where their money goes. The money goes directly to these amazing artisans in Indonesia, and that's exactly how it should be!
Where did the name MUUR come from?
It's actually my childhood nickname and what most of my friends and family in Holland call me!
Travel is obviously very important to your inspiration and work. Is it the people you meet or the places you go to that have the biggest impact on you?
I would say it's a bit of both, but people definitely have a huge impact on me for sure. I have been lucky enough to travel quite a bit and there’s just a special connection with certain people and countries. The people in the Philippines, Cambodia and Mexico for instance have made such an impression on me. Indonesia where our products are made is particularly special to me because that is where part of my roots are from. The fact that I am now able to help in a small way the people living there is really incredible for me.
Where does the inspiration for each design come from?
Our textiles are inspired by a mix of traditional Indonesian patterns and modern aesthetics. Our leather products are inspired by functionality. We want the customer to be able to enjoy high quality products that are practical and timeless. It sounds simple and it is - we try to create products people not only need but want and want to own for a lifetime.
What have some of the biggest challenges been in starting your own business?
I think the biggest challenge is just getting visibility and finding clever and new ways in getting your name and products out there and visible to the world. That's where Kingpins has been so instrumental for us in helping us to showcase our products.
I read an interview with you where you talked about some amazing mission trips you had been on with your Church. How does your faith impact the work you do and your dreams for MUUR?
My faith is really very important to me. I believe there is a purpose for all of us and if I can make even a small difference in people’s life that is what matters. After going on a few mission trips through my church I wanted to find other ways and opportunities to help people. Sharing knowledge with people in developing countries can make such a big difference and I decided to pursue this through MUUR.
Since you began your career how do you feel the industry has changed? Where do see its future?
The fashion industry has changed a lot since I started out! When I started there were so many small creative brands. Now it seems they are part of much larger companies, or maybe they are just not there at all. Fashion became fast and quality definitely declined. But I feel there has been a shift again, and the customer is much more knowledgeable and appreciative of slow and sustainable fashion. People seem to really care about how they spend their money and where it is going. Sustainability is such a huge issue and with more companies being forced to comply I am excited about where the industry is headed.
The current situation of the world have been challenging for everyone. How has it affected you and your business - do you see any long term affects on the industry?
Business has been a bit slow, but we’re still building. For us it's just very important to stay focused on getting our name and brand out there and to continue to strive for quality and transparency. We have our products in a few brick and mortar specialty stores, but that is a tough business at the moment for sure.
Fortunately we were already fully operating online, so we were very thankful for that. The fashion industry will be even more virtual than it already is and I think a lot of business and events will be conducted that way going forward. We’re already partnering with companies and continue to find other opportunities to have our products visible through different channels online.
We're all eagerly awaiting for the travel restrictions to be lifted - where is the first place you'll be visiting?
Not the most glamorous of destinations but it would have to be back to Holland to visit my parents!
What’s next for MUUR?
We’re still working hard to establish ourselves and gain more visibility, so we’re excited to continue this journey. We want to continue finding great partners to work with like Kingpins Shop. We love to work with people that share our values and for customers to get to know us and enjoy our products. This has been an amazing experience thank you for letting me share more about MUUR!