In this series, I, Zain Ahmad Riza, founder of Hornbilly Apparel, would like to introduce myself.
As part of the Hornbilly Apparel mission to become the mavericks in muscular men's fashion, I want to redefine what it means to be a well-built gentleman by engaging with you- the well-built gentleman.
My passions are lifting and style. However, I believe being a well-built gentleman is so much more than that. It's about constant self-development and striving to do amazing things.
I want to move away from the image of the muscle meathead and find the well-built gentleman of substance out there and share their stories.
In this series, I dig deep and find out what motivates them and the obstacles they've had to overcome to achieve success. Hopefully, this series inspires the next generation of well-built gentleman to make their dream a reality.
As this is the first entry in this series, it would only make sense for me to share a bit of my own story.
Name: Zain Ahmad Riza
Job: Owner of Hornbilly Apparel
Favourite cheat meal: Hokkaido-style cheesecake
Favourite lift: Deficit deadlift
What motivates me?
My motivation in life has always been to become independent and have the freedom to do what I want when I want. I have never been good at being told what to do, so I was somewhat always destined to become my own boss. In my worst ever job interview, the interviewer called out my BS, and said, 'this is not what you want to do, is it? What do you really want to do?' I had always known that I wanted to start my own business and that moment was a real epiphany. The fact that I couldn't even pretend to work for someone else, I knew I had to take the leap and thus, Hornbilly Apparel was born.
Have you proved any of your doubters wrong?
In my final year of university, I came to one of the university's business advisors. They were at hand to help students start a business, give them general business advice and so on. I wanted to be considered as a candidate for the university's entrepreneur project. The winner of which would be endorsed by the university, receive a bit of financial backing and general support.
So, I had met this advisor twice before this meeting, with regard to my previous business ideas. I had come to him today to propose the idea of creating ready-to-wear clothes specifically for muscular guys. He didn't hesitate to tell me that I did not have what it takes. He plainly said, 'you don't have a business plan, you're working alone, you don't have real fashion or marketing expertise. It doesn't look good.' It was utterly disheartening to hear, especially after he disregarded all the work and research I had put into it prior to seeing him.
I knew it was pointless trying to get the university to back me. I knew I had to make this happen on my own. So I did. Through countless meetings and emails, I developed an amazing product that you see today. I worked with a London manufacturer with over 30 years' experience, who produces work for some of the biggest names at London Fashion Week. I bought a camera and taught myself how to shoot and edit beautiful pictures. I taught myself how to use Illustrator and create all of the Hornbilly Apparel artwork.
Within a year of being told I didn't have what it takes, I had made my idea of innovative muscular menswear a reality.
Are there any celebrities whose style you really like?
Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gosling and David Gandy. They always look so sharp. Just a lot, of tailored suits, dark navy, tan hues, muscle-fit tees, simple accessories. Overall, they always dress very classy and dapper.
Other than lifting, what do you enjoy doing?
Watching cooking shows. Playing rugby. Anything arty.
In three words, describe a well-built gentleman:
Physique, charisma, style.