Elhadji Gueye, CEO of Maison de Haj, is a thought leader who draws from his heritage and multicultural experiences in running his business. As current events and the global health crisis have made societal issues more evident, the fashion and design industries haven’t been spared from the ripple effect. On the contrary, these industries have been leading the conversation, hoping to inspire positive changes around the world. As a forerunner in fashion, Haj established his brand over 30 years ago already with an understanding of the increasing demand for racial equality and corporate diversity to further show the value of multiculturalism in the art and business of fashion.
Acknowledging the shift in thinking with the recent events and the widespread increase in social consciousness it has brought about, Haj Gueye believes that his experience as an African man and a global citizen can help others understand the gravity of the situation, especially with regards to running their own business. He shares, “As the son of a designer who has dressed many dignitaries across Africa and Europe. I grew up with a global perspective and respect for different cultures. I watched my father add value to his client’s lives, regardless of background and culture.” He fondly remembers, “That way of seeing others, of treating others, was embedded in me from an early age.”
Haj Gueye’s rise to success wasn’t without challenges. He recalls, “I am very aware that as an African man, I may be seen as ‘less than’ or ‘different than’ others. This may have inclined my path to success in a way that a white man would not have experienced. But as an athlete, I like inclines, I like how they force me to build muscles I never knew I had. I am a better designer, a better business leader, and frankly, a better person, because of the path I trod.” Despite the obstacles, Haj says, “I focus on the positive … what I want to happen and not what is happening to me. Whatever you think of, you create.”
This mindset has led to a creative edge that has allowed Maison de Haj and its clients to enjoy bespoke clothing that encapsulates their heritage and their character. “Multiculturalism is the core of our company ethos,” Haj Gueye explains. “It is reflected in our diverse team and the talented craftsmen in the atelier.” Since the beginning, Maison de Haj has developed a rich global line by sourcing the finest materials from around the world and partnering with many supply chain companies from different cultures. For over three decades, the brand has always treated its multicultural partners with the utmost respect.
Regarding business, Haj has this to say: “This diversity-driven perspective on staffing and building client relationships could be a wonderful model for all companies if company leaders take a step back to see the richness that diversity brings to any endeavor.” To keep his company ahead of the curve, he plans on strengthening the brand by adding more talented members coming from various races and backgrounds. Haj Gueye sees embracing the global perspective as the future of Maison de Haj. As for the business and art of fashion, he predicts, “There will be more openness to the diverse designers from places in the world outside of Europe and the US. The world is becoming more like one big neighborhood, and no country or destination is really that remote.”
Explains the purveyor of impactful design, “I serve an elite clientele–high-level thinkers and doers across every industry, as well as dignitaries. I mine that rich offering of talented leadership for models of business ethics, as well as diverse perspectives on investment in the business and investment in my people.” Haj Gueye admits, “It’s been a slow path of learning and observing, but it has honed my business acumen, and these leaders across the world continue to inspire me and sometimes challenge me, as I am as human as anyone else. I always learn from their constructive advice.”