Hakan Baykam

President of Istituto Maragoni Miami

Hakan Baykam is the President of Istituto Marangoni Miami – a world-renowned fashion and design institute with campuses in Paris, London, Shanghai, Florence, Mumbai, and Shenzhen. Having studied at the prestigious Venice University, Hakan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Masters in Communications.

Hakan has worked tirelessly to unite various markets by hosting international fashion events. In 2009, he played an instrumental role in bringing the first fashion week to Istanbul and was attended by major designers including; Roberto Cavalli, Missoni, and Ferragamo.

As an experienced professional and respected entrepreneur, Hakan is currently working to cement the connection between American and LatAm fashion, positioning Miami as an industry leader. Hakan has also established a Miami Fashion Foundation to help provide educational training and support to up-and-coming talent.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

I saw great potential in Miami to become an industry leader in the fashion world. Given the city’s extensive wealth, it is an epicenter for high-end designers and innovative brand names. Miami sits between Latin American and American cultures, like Istanbul and its connections to Asia and Europe. Its diversity is inspiring, so I wanted to utilize my knowledge and experiences to put it on the map. We ultimately took inspiration from Marangoni – one of the best fashion institutes in the world- and re-created the concept in Miami.

We came up with the idea of the university, hoping that a permanent institution would help transform Miami’s fashion landscape. We accept students from all over the world and we provide them with the resources to create their unique platforms. The university not only gives us credibility, but it is also a way for up-and-coming designers to show Miami their take on the fashion industry.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My mornings are typically very productive. I like to start with a cup of coffee while I take the time to manage all my incoming emails from Europe. I will then drop off my kids at school before heading to the University. My afternoons often consist of meetings and coordinating with my team. We are either planning the agenda or developing new projects.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I always carry a pen and a notebook to jot down any sources of inspiration that come to me throughout the day. I work in a highly creative industry, so I am always searching for new ideas and concepts. I also am a big fan of to-do lists. A list of tasks helps enhance productivity while providing structure to your day.

What’s one trend that excites you?

According to a recent article by the Financial Times, Miami is becoming one of the most important cities in America. I think we are in the right place at the right time. The University is quickly becoming an epicenter for thought and creativity. This is a pivotal moment for the city.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I consider myself to be a very organized person, so I will typically keep a detailed list of tasks in my notebook. While I also utilize technology, I am also very reliant on my notebook as it is a tangible representation of my ideas.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell my younger self that persistence is essential to long-term success. I would tell myself to trust my instincts and follow through with my visions and ideas. No two people can have the same visions, so it’s essential to have confidence in your unique skillset and talents. I think most people suffer from self-doubt, but it will only hinder you in the long run.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

A lot of individuals questioned my idea to make Miami a fashion capital and instead encouraged me to consider Los Angeles or New York. I trusted my instinct and I ultimately made the right decision. I recognized potential here and I went for it.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I would say be nice to people and understand where they come from. The way we interact with others creates the energy that gives us a boost to continue. As a sensitive person with experiences across the globe, positive energy always returns to us.

What we give out comes back and helps us achieve our goals for ourselves and those who work with us. I invite everyone to be more sensitive, spiritual, and be more vocal about the practical things we do every day because there’s much more to do.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Our first strategy was to put together an inspired team of like-minded professionals. Secondly, the product that I created here is amazing, it’s a unity between Italian and American culture. Miami had the space to create this unique opportunity to blend American and European culture to make a unique product.
You can see it when you enter the university. It’s a mix between Italian and Miami’s Latin-influenced culture. This blend of culture is how the university has been successful.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

The fashion industry is highly competitive, so there will always be moments when you doubt your ability to succeed. For me, the unwavering support of my family has always helped me push through the challenging times. My wife and my two children continue to inspire me, and help me find a sense of purpose and direction whenever I am feeling lost.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

The fashion industry had a major shift due to the effects of the global pandemic. Ecommerce continues to rise and we see a lot of companies transitioning to online shopping. The metaverse is interesting. Many fashion brands are entering the platform, selling products, creating NFTs, and a wider range of new designs. I think some form of educational platform to help major brands make this transition would be key.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best $100 I spent was on a pen that I use to draw and write my ideas in my notebook. I consider it my good luck pen.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

The calendar is everything. It helps me stay organized. I use Notes a lot when I write down ideas. I use both Dropbox and iCloud to save everything.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I love biographies about people who inspire me. I loved ones by Agassi, Musk, and Nadal. I enjoy tennis, so I find it interesting to read books from the perspective of athletes. To become successful in sports, you need to think like an entrepreneur. You endure challenges like a tennis player on the court instead of playing with a team in soccer. You need to go at it alone and find the motivation in yourself.

What is your favorite quote?

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Key Learnings:

  • You need vision and the discipline to stick to it.
  • Always keep a means to write down notes and refer to them.
  • Working with others is vital to success.
    • Believe in your vision