Saskia, Owner of Maha Amsterdam Shares What Motivated Her To Open Her Own Shop
07.04 / MISSBISHES
Streetwear has been evolving and it's common to see more and more women looking to men's fashion and taking it and making it their own. Sometimes, it gets a little difficult to shop for women because the quality doesn't come close to what's available for men. We often even find ourselves looking at the men's collections - am I right, ladies? But Saskia has changed the game with her dope AF boutique, Maha, in Amsterdam. We got to know a little bit more about this Amsterdam babe, and how she made her idea a reality.
Tell us a little bit about Maha Amsterdam.
Maha, opened in 2015 in Amsterdam, was born from a desire to provide a platform for women’s contemporary streetwear. The brands and items are carefully picked to fit the concept of Maha – the right combination of the story, style, personality, quality, and functionality is what makes it a good fit. We carry brands such as Opening Ceremony, Maison Kitsune, and Stussy, but also some smaller brands like Neige Tees. As for footwear, we carry the established sportswear brands like Nike, adidas and PUMA, but also brands such as Filling Pieces, Suicoke and Hi-Tec.
What inspired you to create the platform?
It began with my frustration. Shopping was terrible; I couldn’t find any brands where the women’s collection was the same quality as the men’s. Or without the “pink it and shrink it” formula. I had to buy my clothing at men's stores or steal Dian’s clothes. Eventually, my frustration became his frustration, too. I was constantly wearing everything he owned!
I realized I couldn’t be the only one who felt this way. After my very fun birthday in January 2015 and many drinks later, we noticed that we shared the same desire to change careers and open up our own shop. That same week, we stumbled upon a shop location and applied for it.
Thinking that we did not stand a chance to get the contract, it completely took us by surprise. In a couple of night sessions, we put our thoughts on paper and created the business plan for Maha.
What is the most challenging part about running Maha Amsterdam?
For us, the biggest challenges are establishing ourselves and being able to compete with the big players in this industry. This is something that will come with time as we grow our customer base and awareness.
Dian and I are running the store, doing projects and consultancy, and everything around it ourselves. As we’re still a start-up and growing like crazy, we hope to add someone to the team soon so we can be more flexible and have time to just be a couple instead of being business partners the whole time. That would be SO nice!
What is your favorite part about owning Maha?
The best part of having your own store is that you can select the entire collection for the season. Also, doing research on trends - which I already did in my own time, but now it’s my job to know what’s going on in fashion.
I love being in contact with our customers. I try to spend as much time as possible inside the store. By carefully observing customers and exchanging ideas with them, I can get precious input. While staying true to our concept, that input makes buying so much easier.
How would you describe your style?
I like to fuse styles; streetwear statement pieces with some high-end basics. I’m a sucker for tracksuits and turtlenecks. I guess you can call it quirky, tailored and always sporty.
“MISSBISH means a woman who’s not afraid to step out of her comfort zone, and is willing to take risks to do what she loves."
Who or what influences your sense of style?
I’m always inspired by 90’s high-end style, such as Jil Sander and Hermes. Masculine silhouettes, but feminine still.
What are your current 3 favorite brands and why?
sacai is my absolute favorite - innovative fabric combinations and pattern techniques inspired by sportswear. Norse Projects, because they have the best basics. Their outerwear is amazing! And last but not least, Opening Ceremony! They’re always on point with styling and collabs.
If you could hang out with anyone in the entire world (alive or dead), who would it be and why?
It would be Eddie Huang. He’s so intelligent and hilarious. He has a very different way of seeing everything and isn’t afraid to ask serious questions. He reminds me of Dian, haha! And I really can relate to his taste in cuisine, a 7-course meal curated by him would be a dream come true!
Are you currently working on any upcoming projects?
We’re always busy co-creating editorials and lookbooks with brands. By creating our own lookbooks we know for sure that our consumer can relate to the styling and make it their own. Collaborations are also a thing that we’re working on, but I can’t tell with which brands yet!
But the biggest project is redesigning the interior at Maha. We feel that we’ve outgrown the styling and want to go for a more mature look, but still cozy.
What are three hidden gems in Amsterdam?
Every second of the day I’m craving for something to eat, so it’s all food related. I'm so grateful for my fast metabolism thanks to my Indonesian genes!
Taste Of Culture: it’s a small Chinese restaurant. It doesn’t look very inviting, but they serve the most delicious roasted pork belly!
FRNZY: Vietnamese street food made with love. The restaurant has a good vibe and good music. All of the employees are dressed well and are very kind.
Van Stapele: The holy mother of chocolate cookies! It’s a small bakery and they serve just one type of cookie. It's always fresh and oozing on the inside. I want one right now!
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
A woman who’s not afraid to step out of her comfort zone, and is willing to take risks to do what she loves.
Who's your MISSBISH? Tell us who she is and why she's an inspiration to you.
Yasmin Sewell is my ultimate MISSBISH! Started her own boutique in her early 20s, became buyer consultant for Browns’ boutiques and Liberty, started a successful brand, Etre Cecile, with her husband, and is the fashion director at Style.com. Ok, I think I made my point! She’s a goddess.
Photos by: Paul Zeper