Youssef Ghobreyal, 18, an Egyptian expat student of Gems Wellington Academy in Al Khail, is passionate about quantum physics. But what sets him truly apart from many peers is that the budding entrepreneur has co-founded a clothing line, Unwritten Lines. Now he is planning to take it global.

What got you interested in entrepreneurship?

My obsession with taking challenges and converting them into opportunities draws me to business and allows me to utilize all of my interpersonal and intellectual skills. Reading the business philosophies of Walt Disney and his struggles in the 1920s to cover his debt, after being rejected over 300 times to fund his vision for Disney World, and the memoir Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, founder of the Nike empire, inspire me to dream big. I believe I too have the power to change the world, no matter what the odds are.

What led you to set up a clothing line?

My friend Amaan Ul Haq and I felt the market was over saturated with clothing that had no deeper meaning behind it. We came upon Unwritten Lines to fill that gap. The main inspiration behind Unwritten Lines was the pandemic. I realised that what’s certain is uncertain! Our main aim was to create a sense of community and support amidst uncertain and rough times. We believe it’s okay to be worried about life’s complexities.

What were the challenges in putting together the line?

When designing the clothing it was really important that we analysed the current trends in fashion but also took into account the message we wanted to show through our clothing. Amaan took the lead in designing the collection on Photoshop and I suggested what we could change or adapt to make the clothing even better. One of the challenges we faced was looking for a manufacturer who would offer good prices.

How do you plan to take this forward?

Considering the fact that my partner and I are going to different places for higher studies we are planning on franchising the business. Initially, we are going to set up in the UK. After four to six months and the UK branch is up and running I will start doing the same for the US. For Dubai we will work together to maximise the success.

Youssef says the pandemic served as the inspiration behind Unwritten Lines: “Our main aim was to create a sense of community and support amidst uncertain and rough times.”

Who have been your mentors?

My main mentor was my father. His advice was always take time to know yourself. That simple piece of advice allowed me not only to open an initiative but rather start it with a goal, passion and purpose. Amaan would constantly tell me to always be different and run the extra mile. My mother reminded me of how I am different. That helped me move forward.

What pointers can you offer other students interested in business?

Take risks. Do not let anyone tell you that your dreams and ideas are impossible or too big. Three years ago I was failing classes and now I am awarded a prestigious scholarship at Boston University where only 20 out of 64,000 applicants receive it. Follow your passions and dreams.

What acceptances/scholarships have you received so far?

I’ve received acceptances from Northeastern University, Boston College, UNC Chapel Hill, UC Davis, University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Commerce, Boston University Questrom School of Business with the Trustee Scholarship (which covers full tuition and fees for four years and is only awarded to 20 students annually), and from Bentley University with a $120,000 scholarship.

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