Nizar Ahmad is having a moment. Late last year, the 28-year-old entrepreneur was featured in Forbes’ "30 Under 30." And earlier this month, he opened the doors to his latest venture: a men's clothing boutique in the Miami Design District.
Clnrs, located on the second floor of the posh shopping destination, is best described as a luxury streetwear store. Although Ahmad has been working in the food industry for more than a decade — the Miami Lakes native cofounded the fast-casual burger chain Pincho with older brother Nedal Ahmad and cousin Otto Othman in 2009, and he was an early investor in Night Owl Cookies, where he serves as chief operations officer — clothing is his true passion.
“At the end of the day, running a business is the same no matter what industry,” Ahmad says, though he admits transitioning from food to fashion was not without challenges. The biggest lesson he learned was to lower his expectations.
“I came to find out that turning over your product is the number one thing when it comes to retail. In clothing sales, if you don’t rotate your items, your offerings get stale and shoppers have no reason to keep visiting your store.
"I’m still learning the whole fashion calendar and the seasons and how to rotate product," he adds. "That’s something I wasn’t even thinking about when I was plotting this whole venture. I was thinking I just needed a lease, a register, and product and we’re good.”
The shop's decor matches its name's minimalistic spelling of the word “cleaners.” Inspired by a traditional dry cleaner, Clnrs is “minimal, modern, clean, spacious,” Ahmad says.
The center clothes rack is a typical garment conveyor. Farther back, two bags marked “laundry” sit on a large washer and dryer. Near the checkout, shirts and pants line up in clear plastic bags that read, “We heart our customers.”
The entrepreneur was inspired to create Clnrs when he visited Bodega, a clothing and shoe store with locations in Boston and Los Angeles.
“When you first walk in, it looks like that old-school New York bodega with random little stands,” Ahmad says. “And then there’s a snap door that opens and leads you to an extravagant thing. That’s what I wanted to do with Clnrs — make something that’s fun and also a good experience.”
Ahmad eagerly awaits his first trip to Paris Fashion Week in January. He already has a few meetings lined up. “I’m most excited to see all the behind-the-scenes action to bring home some more brands,” he says.
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Ahmad plans to expand Clnrs’ offerings to include footwear and accessories.
His other business ventures continue to hum along. Night Owl Cookies set a record last year with $2.3 million in revenue. And Pincho, which has ten locations across South Florida, plans to open at least three more.
“The food thing sort of happened by accident,” Ahmad says with a laugh. “I’m good at the food stuff, but my passion is really in clothing. This is something I’m doing for myself.”
Clnrs. 151 NE 41st St., Miami; theclnrs.com. Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday noon to 6 p.m.