Nasiba Hafiz has always had a passion for fashion since she was 10. With parents who always had an extravagant wardrobe, fashion ran through her blood. Though she didn’t get accepted into a fashion design in womenswear program, she didn’t let that stop her. It was only the beginning of her road to success.
Q: Did you always want to be a fashion designer?
A: Yes I was always passionate since I was 10-11 years old. I was also influenced by my parents who were very stylish and creative. It actually started when I was working as a sales assistant at Blumarine on Bond Street, just before University in London. It was a beautiful shop, an Italian brand. This is really where my journey began.
Q: You applied for a course in womenswear at Central Saint Martin's, but didn't get in. Were you upset about this?
A: Yes! I was devastated. This industry is very competitive, but I got in to London College of Fashion’s Fashion Photography and Styling course, which I loved and learned so much in.. It's something that I worked in and until now I love styling. it’s one of my favorite things. I accepted being rejected although of course it is upsetting, I had advisors that helped me and guided me into looking at the next best thing. I made the best out of the next course that I did, and then I forgot about Fashion Design, I was like you know maybe it’s just not for me. But it’s so interesting that this is the road that led me to come back to it and be where I am today.
Q: How did you land back at fashion design?
A: After I graduated, I always worked in the fashion field. I worked in Beirut as a stylist. Then, I moved back to Jeddah and worked at Rubayiat as visual merchandiser, then buyer, then I became a buyer at Sawani.
However, after I had my first baby, I decided I wanted to do Women’s Wear because I wanted to do something for me and for the girls that just moved back to Jeddah. We needed everyday, easy, affordable clothing suited to the hot weather, with a twist of our culture. For women that just got married, or just started working.
I took a short course in Dubai at London College of Fashion in Fashion Design and How to start your own fashion label, and started my first collection during the course. These short courses really helped me and pushed me to finishing the first collection. Then I launched my first collection in Ramadan, it was 2013.
Q: How did you launch?
A: I started with a Ramadan Collection at Dadu store, and then I did a pop-up at the Saudi Art Council’s Space after 21,39 art exhibition. I’m not so big on paying rent and getting my own shop. The main thing for me was to minimize my spending and how to make the line perfect. So that’s where the pop-up concept started, I decided to just do 3-4 days of opening a shop, and then closing it. I love that exclusive feeling to the collection. I loved my first pop up, it was one of the best experiences ever honestly.
Q: Do you think sustainability in fashion is important?
A: Yes very. Especially with everything happening today, it’s more important than ever. It’s a global issue and it’s us all getting together and being responsible to the world, to mother earth.I never throw our leftover fabrics or samples. I always find a way to use them like I did with my re-usable totes and masks.
Q: Can you tell us about the difference between slow fashion and fast fashion?
A: Slow fashion, like myself, we don’t work with factories. When people say that my brand is a bit more on the expensive side, it is important to say that each item takes a lot of time, we hand-make the pieces, we even print some of our own fabrics. Whereas fast fashion brands produce in factories, make billions of dollars, and underpay their factory workers. So, I am grateful of what my brand does, and inshallah one day I can do a story about the people who make our clothes.
Q: How has marketing enhanced your label?
A: It’s so nice to be able to have direct communication with your customers and like minded brands. It’s definitely great to support and be supported by other brands. I think there is such a nice connection between me and my clients, and my followers. I’m active and always posting, sharing the story of a lot of the pieces . I really enjoy the marketing aspect of the business. It really does make a huge difference to be active and to show people what you’re up to.
Q: What do you see as the future of your label?
A: I would love to be more international, in the aspect of the brand. But I think more online internationally, and more pop-ups internationally, I wouldn’t want to be in those big department stores. My vision is more about meeting people and traveling the world with the brand.
Q: What did you feel was a sign of your success or a milestone you’re proud of?
A: When I launched the lipstick and the candle. That was one of my proudest moments because it was like a dream come true; to venture into other products for my brand, not just clothing. This is where I see the future of my brand going: into more lifestyle and beauty products. Items that are more affordable.
Q: What advice would you give a young designer or creative?
A: I would definitely say to be brave with what you’re doing. Don’t be shy to make mistakes- this is part of being an artist. Don't be afraid of rejection, and know what you are as a brand because if you have your core values as a brand, you’ll know what you want to create and not get lost. Have your own identity.