Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Züleyha Özgen

Züleyha Özgen is a 28-year-old Fashion Designer based in Berlin – she founded the brand Zsolea back in 2019. She started dreaming about becoming a fashion designer at a very young age but it took her a long time to make the first step towards achieving that dream. She worked for about 5 years in fashion retail where she gained a lot of experiences related to the industry before she finally decided to study fashion design at the age of 25. She eventually quit her job to become an intern for a fashion designer in Berlin and up to now, she feels that the move she made was the best decision she’s ever made.  

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Züleyha to discuss her journey in the fashion industry and here’s what went down:

What do you like most about being a designer?

What I adore about being a fashion designer is that you don’t have to stick to any rules. I can put my creativity, feelings, and personality in one design to express my understanding of fashion.

The downside to being a fashion designer?

When you are working all by yourself, like in my case it’s not that easy to be constantly creative and productive. You need breaks, especially creative breaks so that new ideas new inspiration can arise. These times are always the hardest, you are trying but you have the feeling that nothing is working out as you imagine. It took me a long time to find the right handling for that. 

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

The most memorable experience in the fashion industry so far was the time I had as an intern abroad in Barcelona. I had the chance to participate in fashion week Barcelona. It was my first time behind the scenes of a fashion week. Everything was new and so exciting. Professional models, successful brands, the location, and organisation. A lot of new impressions and a great experience.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

The most interesting person I have met so far related to fashion is Olga. She is a fashion designer of the brand Menchen Thomas. She was like a role model for me. Although things were not working out she was calm and still spread positivity. I remember that I was asking her how she can be that calm in difficult situations and still make jokes and things like that. She told me that we always have the decision of how we react to this kind of situation. When everything goes wrong why adding more negativity with being angry or making more pressure. When the team is fine and in a good mood you can conquer every fence together.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is from nothing comes nothing. Even if it’s 10 minutes you are putting into your business or your self you should take that time. Every day doing at least one thing will open new doors. That’s what I’ve experienced. 

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

My family is my biggest supporter. I’m so thankful for that. They believe in me sometimes more than I’m doing, to be honest. To know that I have such a supportive family gives me strength and motivates me.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I think there is nothing I would do differently because every experience and lesson lead me to this day. I’m still learning and I’m still making mistakes and I’m fine with that, this makes my work more personal and authentic I guess. 

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

That small steps are important and okay. It takes time to get where you want to be. How you get there is more important than when you get there. 

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

My future plans are growing in the fashion industry as an upcoming fashion designer from Berlin. I would love to show my work all over the world and see people wearing my visions. 

Emerging Designer To Watch Out For In 2021: Introducing The Talented Mersi Nazanin

Mersi Nazanin is an emerging designer who hails from Istanbul, Turkey. She was originally from Kerman, which is a small city in the south of Iran. Growing up, the sight of admiration towards people who devoted their lives to give humankind the privilege of living in peace and dignity inspired her to pursue her academic studies, so she graduated with a master’s degree in Criminal Law. Moreover, she has written two books in Persian. Due to her creative imagination and great passion for artworks, she has started painting her ideas since her childhood which led to holding an exhibition in Iran; however, it did not fulfill her dreams. That’s when she decided to attend a Fashion and Accessory Design Course, which was the first step towards her professional life in the fashion industry.

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Nazanin to discuss her journey in the fashion industry and here’s what went down:

What do you like most about being a designer?

In this field, there are many opportunities, which means you can create a unique career path. Actually, it is the ability to create a vision with your own hands. In my opinion, one of the most interesting facts related to fashion designing is that you always have a chance to create something new, something more creative which can be totally different from others.

The downside to being a fashion designer?

Actually, I do not see any downsides to being a fashion designer. However, it is worth mentioning that regarding the high competition of this field, you always need to upgrade your fashion information, and that is what I love about it.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned from life is to make the best of what I have! We have to love ourselves. Believe in ourselves and have self-confidence. Because when you create something, you will face various ideas and behaviors. Some people ignore your work and ideas, and some adore it. So don’t care and just follow your dreams. From my perspective, when you respect your ideas and your dreams, after a while, people will start following your thoughts too.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

Yes, of course. My family and my husband always admire and support me to stay independent and be a successful woman.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

Well, if I could go back to a time machine, I preferred to study fashion at the university instead of law since during adolescence, I had much more free time, and it was easier to follow my dreams and achieve my goals.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Live your life the way you want; you just live once, so do what you want and follow your dreams. Do not forget to Love yourself.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

I believe that my characteristics, such as assertiveness, flexibility, commitment, and a spirit of teamwork, could help me through this journey. I know that I have the potentiality of being one of the bests in my field in the future, and there would be millions of people who use my innovations all around the world. I’ve planned to have my own fashion academy and sewing workshop to support people interested in working in this field because I have faced many people who took related courses but did not know how to start and find a suitable market for their sketches and works. Therefore I planned to have my own academy to help them from the beginning of the way and providing their market in my place and all the support they might need.

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Emerging Designer To Watch Out For In 2021: Meet The Talented Menna Angharad Evans

Menna Angharad Evans is a 21-year-old designer who’s located in South Wales. She’s currently in her third and final year of studying Fashion Design at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Her brand “naturesthreadss” follows on from her graduate collection Gypsy Soul. As a designer, she’s heavily inspired by nature. Growing up, her childhood was spent with her horses, surrounded by the most beautiful things found in nature. She spent many days creating and exploring, making dens in the ferns, running barefoot with handmade flower crowns in her hair, and simply feeling free and happy. She has fond memories of hours spent exploring the countryside, the feeling of freedom and connection to nature flows naturally within her. This way of living taught her to appreciate the beauty of the natural world, teaching her to make use of what she has around her and to source naturally and sustainably. Connecting her childhood to that of the Romany Gypsy’s, her collection Gypsy Soul is based around the life of the Romany Gypsy’s, taking inspiration from their free-spirited souls and love for nature. Their freedom to travel, explore new places, and live a slower pace of life truly resonated within her. Inspired by the Gypsy way of ‘making something from nothing’, She has sourced materials she free-spirited to create unique designs. She simply sees the beauty in sustainability, therefore her designs within her collection are focused upon giving discarded items a new purpose. Re-using found objects repeatedly through numerous textile techniques. Her designs are very textile-based, using traditional techniques such as macrame, crochet, natural dyeing, and felting to create beautifully handcrafted designs. The main focus of her collection is to create little to no waste through her design processes, textile-based garments are made with great care and precision. Her fabrics are primarily up-cycled, sourced from pre-owned cotton linen, giving her garment a free-flowing, relaxed silhouette. Natural dyes add another element to her cloth using the technique of rusting to add another layer of texture and achieving a unique print.

Sassy & Co recently caught up with Menna and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

Growing up I was always encouraged to be creative, my mum is very creative herself so inspired me to have a go at lots of different arts and crafts. My attic has always been “mum’s sewing room” and it is full to the brim with fabrics, trims, and everything I ever wanted, giving me the freedom to make anything. I have fond memories of using scraps of fabric, cutting them up & tying them around myself, making different dresses for myself to walk up and down the room as if it was my catwalk. I will always remember my mum telling me that art could never be wrong, nobody could ever say what I made was wrong and that I could truly make whatever I wanted. I loved that. Once I was in comprehensive, I then began to have textiles lessons, which I absolutely loved as it was a lesson that I felt really confident in because my mum had taught me to sew years prior. After school, I knew that I wanted to proceed on to something textiles-based, fashion just seemed perfect for me as I just loved working with different fabrics and textile techniques to create something beautiful.

What do you like most about being a designer?

What I like most about being a designer is the freedom I have to create whatever I want. Like my mum said, nothing I make can ever be wrong and that’s truly just beautiful.

What do you like most about being a designer?

For me, the downside to being a fashion designer would be people taking my work for granted and not noticing the time and care that goes into making my garments. My designs are very textiles-based, meaning they take an incredible amount of time to create. Often people don’t realise the time that one simple t-shirt could take to make let alone a handcrafted dress.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

Being a beginner within the fashion industry I have not yet had many major experiences. But something that stands out for me as an achievement within my fashion design journey so far would be my mini collection I created in my second year. This was the collection for me that really made me fall in love with what I do. Before then I had found it extremely difficult to find my true aesthetic, I honestly felt lost and out of place on my fashion course. But within my mini collection, I really focused on my textiles & I discovered what I loved most! This collection then went on to inspire my Graduate Collection.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

The most interesting people I have met through the fashion industry would be my fellow fashion designers. I would say fashion has quite the stigma of being a clicky industry but from my experience, I have met the most genuine people within this industry through social media (Instagram). I’ve had nothing but positive support and the kindest messages about my work and I feel that it is such an inspiring industry to be a part of.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned would be to keep going. I find the process of making & designing garments can be daunting at times. I’m a perfectionist, I love adding finishing touches and finalising designs but the period of time when my work is half-finished can be very difficult. It’s sometimes hard to see past the half-finished garments in front of me and vision how it will look once finished and sometimes this can cause a lack of motivation. So, the most valuable lesson I’ve learned so far is just to keep going, even if you feel anxious about how your work looks just know that it will all work out in the end!

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

Yes!! As previously mentioned my mum is extremely creative herself, she loves seeing my work and often helps me with my fashion work, she always says she wishes she could be doing my course too!!

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I don’t think I’d do anything differently. Of course, there are certain garments I look back on and think “oh my gosh what was I thinking” but once I take a step back I realise despite disliking the garment my aesthetic has most definitely developed from it initially. Everybody starts somewhere and I am very happy with where I am now so no I wouldn’t change anything.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

The best advice I have ever been given is to be true to yourself as a designer. Make sure that your project is something that you’re truly interested in, something that really inspires you. A collection doesn’t happen overnight it’s something that you will be spending months on, so it has to be something you have a genuine interest in! Make the collection true to yourself and the experience will be much more enjoyable than doing choosing something just because you’ve seen somebody else do it.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

I plan to develop my brand from my Graduate Collection and create my own sustainable business. I would like to create one-off garments as well as homeware and accessory pieces. With my brand, I’d like to collaborate with other creatives and offer classes and talks about my textile and sustainability process behind my brand. I am so excited for the future and am ready to take any opportunity!

Designer Spotlight: Make Way For The Talented Pavlina Jauss

Pavlina Jauss started designing her first collection in 2014. Her avantgardistic collections have been shown during Paris Fashion Week, since 2016. Sustainability had always a key role in their business. For this reason, they produce their collection mostly in their own studio in Hamburg, Germany. They also guarantee that all used materials are from European or Japanese suppliers. The knitwear (the only exception production-wise) is produced in Bulgaria, the country where Pavlina was born.

Pavlina has shown her collections on runways in London and Paris. They have a growing network of stockists around the world including Egypt, Italy, Russia, Georgia, and the United Kingdom.

Designer Spotlight: : Make Way For The Talented Amiko Simonetti

Amiko Simonetti is a fashion designer with a mix of skills, including garment construction, trend research, branding, and concept strategy. She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, where she received a BFA in Fine Arts with a Women’s Sportswear specialization. Over the past decade, she has designed a broad range of garment categories, including tops, dresses, graphic t-shirts, outerwear, and denim jackets. She’s passionate about connecting with others through her designs and feels blessed to have designed for the masses through various corporate design roles. She’s most passionate about designing clothing that’s accessible, comfortable, and fun. Her passion for design led her to create free design courses and tutorials on her website amikosimonetti.com. Her mission is to continue designing life-enhancing clothes and to make fashion design education accessible and fun.

Designer Spotlight: : Make Way For The Talented Heather Krogemann

Heather is a Colorado-based designer and owner of Alien Earth Designs. She is a fashion designer, animator, artist, and is currently finishing her master’s degree in costume design. Sewing and creating have been a part of her life since she was very young. However, she didn’t start fashion and costume design until 2010. In 2013 she created her first wearable art piece which was displayed in Hawaii Fashion Week that year. It was made entirely of recycled material. As her designs have grown through the years she has found a niche in avant-garde fashion with her line of parachute dresses. Most of her designs are one-of-a-kind or custom pieces. She always tries to make things unique and fun. Some of her proudest accomplishments have been having three parachute dresses featured in Basic Magazine as well as having designs at a style house in Los Angeles. This year she will be entering a new wearable art piece in the World of Wearable Art competition in New Zealand. Heather has many goals and accomplishments for the next five years, like working as a costume designer in Theater, TV, and Film. She also hopes to collaborate with magazines on future editorial pieces. Her love for wearable art and avant-garde will always play a part in whatever the future may hold.

Model @ms.vega4
Photographer @ericalindseyphotography
Dress @alienearthdesign

Model @rbarrieking
Photographer @mk_studios_photo
Dress  @alienearthdesign

Model @maddi.silva
Photographer @jonnycreative
Dress @alienearthdesign
Shawl @nataliafedner
Hair @cassandra_lynn_vosshair
Makeup @makeupsammy

Model @miaasanomusic
Photographer @mk_studios_photo
Dress @alienearthdesign
Violin @woodviolins

Human | @fatmatakargbo_
Hair – Creative Lead | @cassandra_lynn_vosshair
Hair – Assistant | @rebekah_loves_hair
Makeup | @makeupsammy
Designer – Dress | @alienearthdesign
Backdrop | @handpaintedbackdropsuk

Photographer @ericalindseyphotography
Models @iloveushani91 @sakinah.bby @_meggganjayyyy_
Dresses @alienearthdesign

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Latest Photoshoot For Sassy & Co

Sassy & Co’s mission is to provide you with affordable, ethical, and sustainable clothing and accessories you can feel good about.

Fast fashion is still the worlds largest polluter shortly after the oil industry, causing mass devastation to our planet and people involved, with many local communities affected, the pain is endless.

The history and hands that are behind every item of clothing are to be respected, taken care of, and cherished. To mend rather than discard and to protect rather than trash.

When clothing is made properly, it lasts longer and is a little more expensive.

Learning to treat our clothing as an investment rather than disposable will be a major key in turning this issue around.

5 Beauty Products Every Fashionista Has in Her Medicine Cabinet

These five beauty products are must-haves for every woman. This includes the natural woman who decries the use of makeup. These products keep your skin and hair healthy, so their natural beauty will always shine through.

Find Your Best Facial Cleansing Product

Your skin may be oily, dry, or a combination. This is a critical factor in determining the best facial cleansing product. Having adequately hydrated skin is essential to looking and feeling great. It also helps reduce the appearance of aging. After this, you will consider irritants and chemicals.

For generally oily skin, you want something that will remove the extra oil without stripping it all off. If you tend towards dry skin, you need a moisturizer that eliminates impurities and provides additional hydration. Dry skin is also more sensitive, so find a cleanser that is gentle but still cleans well. A creamy or milky cleanser is best.

Next, look for one that has no irritants such as perfume, alcohol, or detergent. You want it to clear away the makeup, dirt, and impurities without removing the natural oils from your skin. Last, if you are concerned about chemicals, find one made from all-natural or organic ingredients.

Moisturizer

You already know your skin type, but do you have acne or sensitive skin? For normal skin, find a light, non-greasy moisturizer. For dry skin, look for a creamier option. This may require you to try different versions. Pay attention to how it feels on your face and check for signs of irritants. Stop using the product immediately if you have any reactions.

A Facial Mask Is A Must

A facial mask made from clay or charcoal is best for thicker skin with a lot of oil. Those with sensitive skin should look for ones with a jelly or biocellulose base. Finally, there are anti-blemish or anti-aging options as well.

Invest in a Good Hair Mask

Do you have oily, dry, or chemically treated hair? Is it dry, frizzy, or curly? How porous is your hair? Low porous hair will repel moisture, and high porous hair will soak it up. Deep conditioning products make fine hair feel oily. For colored treated hair, look for one that will help slow down the color fading process. If needed, look for products that help repair damage caused by chemical or excessive hot air use.

Pimple patch

These are not just for teenagers. Pimple patches absorb excess fluid, suck out dirt or oil, and stick them to the patch. Patches can help you if you touch your pimple, thus reducing irritating and further inflaming it. Also, look for aloe vera or vitamin oil, which will help reduce inflammation as well.

Now that you know how to stock your beauty basics, you are ready to take the world on. Look and feel your best. Add a smile, and you will get noticed everywhere you go.

Meet The Stunner Behind The Cover Of The November 2020 Issue Of Sassy & Co Magazine: The Beautiful Roxette Arisa

Photo Credit: Lasonic Sivongxay

Beauty and fashion expert, wildly successful Japanese American YouTube / Social Media guru Roxette Arisa is making a name for herself in the skincare, beauty, and fashion space with over 75 MILLION views and 1.2 MILLION subs on YouTube alone. Whether she is giving tips on how to perfect your makeup for mask-wearing, providing how-to-tips for taking that lust-worthy passport photo, comparing designer and drugstore brands with a split face tutorial, or giving how-to-style basics by using clothes you already have in your closet, Arisa is a quickly rising star who is highly respected for her expertise in the beauty and fashion world.

Arisa’s rise in the beauty and fashion world is quite different from her contemporaries. Growing up in Culver City, California she always knew from a young age what she wanted to be: an Olympic figure skating medalist. She began skating at the age of 4, training and practicing to perfection. By the age of 15, she moved to Detroit where she was selected for the Jr. National Team as part of a duo ice dancing partnership. Arisa then moved to Canada, where she was being groomed to compete internationally for Canada, and in 2016, at 17 years old, she and her partner placed Silver at sectionals solidifying her stance as a competitor. But soon after, her world was rocked when her partner suddenly retired, and in 2017 she found her dreams of competing in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeong Chang all but a fleeting dream. The reality was that it would be near impossible to find a new skilled partner in time. But Arisa had found another passion.

Since a young age, she had worn makeup for skating competitions and as she got older, she realized that she had found an appreciation for applying and learning new makeup techniques. She often trained in skating for 8+ hours a day, but at night she would spend her time watching makeup tutorials online and she decided to create a YouTube page herself. To her, makeup was something that always gave her confidence and she wanted to share her advice with others. Before long, her following and views began skyrocketing and she realized that when one door closes another one opens. She decided to retire from skating and instead focus on her new passion – the beauty and fashion world. She packed up her bags and moved back home to Los Angeles. Around this time, brands began to take notice. In only a couple of years, Arisa has quickly become a favorite for beauty and fashion brands alike, and has become a beauty ambassador to Smashbox, e.l.f., partnered with brands like Revolve, Olay, Murad, NARS, Maybelline, MAC, Instagram, Clarisonic, Neutrogena, Kate Somerville, CeraVe, IPSY, L’Oreal, Lorac and created her own collections for Milani and SIGMA to name a few.

Sassy & Co Magazine recently caught up with Arisa to discuss her journey in the industry and here’s what went down:

Can you tell us more about yourself? How did you get started in the industry?

Growing up I was a competitive figure skater for 20 years and was always doing my makeup and hair for competitions to match the competition dresses I would wear. The confidence I felt when I put on a red lip or a smokey eye was a little bit addicting and I just fell in love with the world of beauty which led me to find the beauty community on YouTube and to eventually start a channel of my own. For my first couple of videos, I remember filming on my floor with my laptop webcam and a lamp turned sideways to give me some “light,” which is so funny to look back on. It’s been an amazing journey getting from those lamp and laptop days to now when I’m able to combine my two passions – beauty and fashion – on all of my platforms.

How did you develop an interest in fashion and what drove you to pursue that passion onto social media?

I’ve always loved fashion. I think fashion and beauty go hand in hand. Fashion is a form of self-expression and at the end of the day, I’m an artist – whether that be in makeup or in putting together an outfit in my head that I know is going to make me feel and look bomb. To me, fashion is a feeling – I want to feel confident and I want to inspire my followers to be confident.

What do you like most about being an influencer?

I love being able to connect with people all around the world. It’s such an amazing feeling to meet someone and know that you touched their life in any way possible. I definitely would say I have a special bond with my followers and think of them as my friends and my little online family.

In what way has social media changed your life?

I think at this point social media has really changed the world. I mean it’s the fastest-growing form of advertisement/marketing, it’s a way to connect with anyone and everyone around the world, and it’s a place to share what means the most to you. I know I definitely would not have had half of the experiences and opportunities that I have had without social media. It’s still surreal to me that I have built my career from the ground up by sharing what I’m truly passionate about. I’m forever grateful to my fans and followers because I really would not have the life I have today without their support.

What are some of the difficulties of being in the industry?

I think the biggest difficulty is comparison. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others online but you have to realize that everyone has their own journey and their own path. My dad always says “Everything that is happening to you, is happening at the right place and at the right time for YOU, because that’s just the way it was meant to happen.” That’s something I like to think about when I feel myself falling into that deep hole of comparison.

How does your thought process differ when creating content for Instagram versus content for YouTube?

Instagram and YouTube are totally different platforms. Instagram is all about the aesthetic and when I’m creating content for IG, I’m looking for something that will catch the viewers’ eye while scrolling. On YouTube – I feel like I get to share every part of me. I really get to connect with my followers on YouTube so my content is more laid back and truly a piece of me.

Photo Credit: Lasonic Sivongxay

What are your long-term goals for your social media accounts?

I really do think of my social media accounts as an art form. I want to continue expressing my creativity and growing and learning with my followers. I love photography and cinematography so I would love to expand on those art forms and implement it into my work on social media!

When choosing whether or not to work with a brand that wants to work with you, how do you decide? Which brand sponsorship(s) are you most proud of?

It’s actually really easy for me to decide what brands to work with because I never work with a brand or promote products that I don’t genuinely use. That’s something I’ve always stood by ever since I started making videos. I think of my followers as friends so I would never want to break their trust by promoting a product that doesn’t work for me. I’m super proud of the work I’ve done with Maybelline New York. They are a brand that I have been using since I was a teenager so it’s just so surreal to be able to work with them now. I also did a really cool AR video with MAC Cosmetics where my subscribers could actually try on different shades of lipstick in the video. That was a fun project! Smashbox Cosmetics and Dior Makeup stand out to me as well when I think of projects that I’m super proud of and grateful that I got to be a part of.

If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?

Miley Cyrus! I love her and everything she stands for. A lot of people say we look alike!

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

I have lots of plans and aspirations when it comes to my career, some of which I can’t talk about yet *wink wink*, but one of the things I would love to do is get into more traditional media – super interested in hosting and acting! On a personal level – I’m trying to give my apartment a little makeover right now and finally start decorating it. I’ve only lived here for 3 years – wish me luck!

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie you’ve seen. How Do You Know? with Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? I’m a true believer that beauty shines from the inside – that’s what my mom and dad always taught me.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? One of my dreams is to go to the South of France!

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” try to recreate Britney Spears’ “I’m A Slave 4 U” performance at the 2001 VMAs! Unfortunately, with my fear of snakes that definitely won’t be happening any time soon.

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? One of my figure skating coaches once told me I needed to get my ears stapled back because they were too big. I think it’s important to love every part of yourself – this is a journey I’m still on but I think my ears make a nice little setting place for all the gold hoops I wear.

Meet The Woman Behind The Cover Of The September 2020 Issue Of Sassy & Co Magazine: The Amazing Dr. Mahtab Hanna

Dr. Mahtab Hanna is an award-winning British jewellery artist and designer-maker with a Persian heritage, whose designs are radically different from others – the cross-pollinating of Eastern and Western history, culture, religion, character, thoughts, and politics play a large part in the inspiration process leading to her creations. Whether its unique pieces or a limited edition series of work, her quest is to define within those pieces what she is aiming for, what the client is trying to communicate, and the reason behind each design. Some of her specialties include fine and contemporary jewellery, sculpture, and body adornment.

In 2017 Mahtab held a solo exhibition entitled “Political Jewellery: Silent Protest” at the P21 Gallery in London, and she has been featured by The Goldsmiths’ Centre (UK’s leading charity for the professional training of goldsmiths and a community for design, creativity, and craftsmanship), New Designers, Cox & Power, Masterpiece, Gallerie Marzee, amongst others. Mahtab’s trailblazing achievements include being awarded her Doctorate from Central Saint Martins and during those 4 years of her Ph.D., she had two children!

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Mahtab to discuss her journey in the fashion and jewellery industry and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I am a British jeweller with a proud Persian background. It all started when I first wore my mother’s jewellery, I became passionate about the small design details on those jewellery; how its made, the precious stones, and how people wore them. It was then that I saw people, their clothes and jewellery as a canvas.

This led me to study jewellery and goldsmithing for over a decade leading to an MA from the Royal College of Art and a Ph.D. from Central Saint Martins in Jewellery.

How did you get into the fashion industry?

I love fashion, its an undeniable ingrained part of the substance of being a woman. Whilst there are so many fashion designers, there aren’t enough female jewellers in my view.

I entered the industry by showcasing my work and being showcased. I expanded from my artistic jewellery lines into fashion jewellery and body adornments, leading to my 2011 catwalk show at The Royal Exchange in London.

What do you like most about being a designer?

Being a designer is about sharing your life, your experiences, your feelings, your journeys, all under the umbrella of new creations. It’s a conversation with people you may never meet but have communicated with. You are influencing their confidence; how they communicate themselves and how people see them. Amazing!

Every designer is an individual, their creations are unique to them, just like their fingerprints. The concept behind my Goldfinger piece was that it would be customised for each individual wearer.

Ultimately, extending the experience of jewellery wearing is to challenge and ambush the boundaries of function and ornamented decorative art, highlighting communication, concluding with stimulating contemplation.

While creating each piece is a process and expression or development of a vision I have, jewellery is created for other people. It is important to remember this without compromising the original vision I have throughout the design and creation process.

The downside to being a fashion designer?

One of the most frustrating issues is that of designs being stolen or copied without the due respect to the original designer or maker. What was thought through in the design has been lost because the item is now simply “a thing,” not a messenger.

Of course, this is not a problem that’s just exclusive to jewellery, but the entire fashion arena.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

There have been many memorable experiences, such as being featured in Vogue Italia, selected as one of the top luxury jewellers in the UK newspaper, The Telegraph, and featured in Qatar Airways magazine. I also appeared in a TV program called Four Rooms where top dealers tried to negotiate to buy some of my pieces.

Perhaps the most memorable was being selected to be the cover for the Goldsmiths’ Company inaugural post-graduate programme and being mentored by the late Dr. Stuart Devlin, one of the jewellery industry’s royalty.

Naturally, there is a lot of satisfaction from seeing my creations being used in films, photoshoots, and publications.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

The word “interesting” applies to every human, in my view. Those that have had a profound effect on me include the renowned British jewellers Shaun Leane and Theo Fennell. Their support for upcoming jewellers is a testament to their commitment to the industry.

Didier and Martine Haspeslagh who have a passion for jewellery made and designed by painters, sculptors, architects, and designers from the late 19th to the end of the 20th century.

Audiences have taught me the array of views on my pieces, clients have taught me the sheer personal nature of jewellery, the industry has taught me the sense of community. Therefore, many people who have interests!

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or yourself.

There’s a lot of politics behind the smiles in any industry, and fashion and jewellery is no exception.

I try to engage in one of the core values I place in life: from every person I meet, I try to leave the conversation having learned something or having exchanged knowledge. This is, in my view, the essence of being a designer – every lesson is valuable and shapes me.

The single most valuable lesson has been to remain faithful to my own values. Always consider the options but trust yourself to take the decisions – leadership starts with you!

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

I have been blessed to have a family that is completely supportive and unflinching in their love throughout my journey, through the victories and the challenges, especially my darling husband, Rafah Hanna.

It is critical for any creative person to have someone to support them, not only during the achievements but also at times of growth and learning. This is the person that will stand by you as you face those that do not have your best interest at heart.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

In the early days, I would want to focus much more on brand growth, especially internationally.

Another thing I would change would be to closely study those that have taken a similar journey leading to success, learning from their experiences.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

My mother often says to me – If you can be inspired, you can definitely inspire.

What are your future plans? What new projects are you currently working on right now?

I am excited to tell you exclusively that I am working on publishing my book related to political jewellery! How jewellery is used as a tool of messaging and communication to affect protests and opinions in the matter of politics.

I will also be having an international exhibition with the same theme related to the book.

My “Pawns” Chess Set is an example of my political jewellery designs, which I also made. It is made from Sterling Silver and Bronze and relates to the most extreme form of protest – war: a highly emotive and evocative subject throughout mankind’s history.

Politics, religion, money, and natural resources are all causes of wars, and these are all represented on the stage within this work in their own way.

The chess board is made from sand and soil, both of which represent another cause of war – “land” – as well as the battlefield.

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen: Frozen 2 – as my daughter, Anais, and I both love it!

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Beautiful is such a personal thing – we may share a view of beauty, but it is equally about your values, thoughts, and mood even. I consider beautiful to be yourself, it is to fight for those that cannot fight and stand for equality.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? I would like to run workshops whereby I would mentor upcoming jewellers and designers, sharing my experiences with them, helping them to confidently progress in their chosen careers.

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d… ” I don’t actually recognise the notion of fear. Life and careers are a series of challenges, fear is certainly one of them. It’s your job to face them, analyse them, and find paths to strengthen yourself to be able to proudly overcome them. Consideration and respect towards anything, person, or decision is a far greater asset than fear. Fear simply holds humanity back.

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? I sometimes don’t know when to stop working, trying always to reach a state of perfection! However, I wouldn’t change that as it drives me towards even higher quality.