Entrepreneur Interview: Zora Feraji

October 24, 2023

As part of our Entrepreneur Series, we had the pleasure of getting to know Zora Feraji, Founder & CEO at AfterHourz – a communications agency  that is dedicated to helping sustainable brands amplify their voices and create meaningful connections with their target audience. In this interview, we chat to Zora about her background and experience prior to AfterHourz, and her main inspirations for starting the business. She also shares her insights into the sustainable retail sector, advice for any aspiring entrepreneurs and much more…


What is your background prior to starting After Hourz and what was your motivation to start a business? 

I studied Art, Culture and Curation at Central Saint Martins. I worked in advertising during my studies and afterwards, on some amazing campaigns for Unilever and Procter & Gamble, but the impact of the brands we were working with always bothered me – I started AfterHourz to help purpose-led and sustainable challenger brands and startups compete with the big guys. 


How would you describe your company’s mission in one sentence?

I’d say at AfterHourz our mission is to empower purpose-led businesses to drive meaningful change through impactful social-first creative campaigns – and make a positive impact on society and the planet. We focus on building communities for our brands – both online and offline – who become the driving force behind their growth and impact.


Have you always been passionate about retail and sustainability? 

The honest answer is no, not really! 

After the pandemic, the digital landscape became super saturated and everyone was feeling the burn out, so me and my team were looking for alternative ways to connect with customers to drive brand awareness, loyalty and obviously sales that were more focused on experiential activations. We were working with a fair few struggling with the same issue and budget restraints and that’s how the multi-brand pop up store came about, first as a one-off Earth Month activation –  now as a quarterly traveling concept and online discovery platform. We knew we wanted to make our impact as little as possible, so we consciously worked towards a zero-waste and zero-emission model. 


How do you see the future of sustainable retail?

I love this question but it’s really complex.

There are several key trends and shifts that are happening and shaping this landscape currently, and I they paint a promising picture for both consumers and businesses alike.

Over the last few years, we saw mainstream consumer consciousness around sustainability increase significantly – now shoppers are demanding transparency from retailers in their supply chain, carbon emissions and overall impact. 

I believe we will see more and more retailers begin to take steps towards fostering a more circular economy model, where a products entire lifecycle is considered, from design to disposal. From offering in-store tailoring and repairs, in-store recycling and charging for returns are all steps to consider and implement. 

For customers, we will see a lot more retailers engage them in their sustainability efforts – from loyalty programs and eco-conscious rewards to opportunities for shoppers to contribute to environmental causes with their purchases.

What I’m most excited about is material innovations – from biodegradable textiles to plant-based plastics, we will see a lot more retailers carry a wider array of eco-friendly materials to choose from.

I also think collaboration among retailers, manufacturers and even competitors will ultimately become key to making lasting change – the industry as a whole needs to come together to address the sustainability challenges. I’m currently working closely with IKEA on their Happy Rebels platform where these discussions are happening real time with industry changemakers – watch this space! 


What’s your favourite part of what you do?

I love that no two days are the same, ever! Also I get to work with amazing and inspiring  people – both my team and clients – and get to see real change and cultural shifts happen right in front of me.


How would you describe yourself in 3 words? 

I’d say driven, passionate and hard working. 


Have you encountered any significant obstacles since starting your business? If so, how have you dealt with them?

Nothing that I’d classify as significant. Some of our clients closed the last few years, as a ripple effect from the pandemic, which was in some cases unexpected and caused issues with cash flow. 


If you could offer a first-time entrepreneur only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Though to only think of one – I think the most important ones that I had learnt so far is that you would have  become comfortable with rejection – there are a lot of nos along the way, especially if you are a female founder. 

And probably to read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.


Quick fire:

Are you a morning or an evening person? Definitely evening!

What is one item you would bring with you on a desert island? Probably a journal!

What’s the next thing on your bucket list? Skydiving in Dubai! 

Who is your biggest inspiration/role model? Hard to think of just one – what Melanie Perkins achieved over at Canva definitely deserves a mention! 

What is your favourite hobby outside of work?  Running or exercise to clear my head. 


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