We caught up with International Fashion Designer Annah Hariri herself, to find out more about her company, her personal style and what inspires her!
◆ When and how did it all begin?
Since September 2012, we have been officially registered in a Free Zone here in UAE, but a year before that, I created my Instagram page and started posting simple outfit ideas. I was also active on Facebook where sisters loved my starting designs and re-posted them in their groups and I gained 150 000 followers, so when we officially launched Annah Hariri, it wasn't a zero start as already I had supporters from Instagram and Facebook, including some influential Muslima bloggers.
◆ What inspired you to start a clothing line?
To be brief: When I reverted to Islam, I had nothing to wear! Saying “nothing” here, I mean that you can’t easily find (and at a good price) long sleeve maxi dresses and long tops and blouses and sadly enough most items that are long are sheer. When you eventually do find some modest wear, it is usually from high street brands, which are very expensive to afford (and as muslims we should always be concerned about “israaf” (unnecessary overspending). Also I am a working hijabi and there are NO good modest and comfortable outfits for a sister to wear to work. So I started to design dresses and began wearing them. I received a lot of compliments from my non-muslim female colleagues at work (or not-yet-muslims as I prefer to call them). I then timidly shared the idea of designing a range of clothes for women worldwide with my husband and he fully supported me. Alhamdulillah for such a partner!
◆ How would you describe your clothing?
I was born and raised in Eastern Europe and I prefer wearing clothes which are similar to what Europeans wear. And this is what I aim for in my designs: something similar to the clothes you can find in mass market shops, but as I mentioned earlier with long sleeves and in maxi length. And this is what attracted sisters from the West and America to our brand and gained us more followers on social media. I received many messages and e-mails in which sisters would thank me for creating clothes, in which they can easily blend into western society without attracting unnecessary attention, as if when they would wear totally black garments.
◆ Tell us a bit about yourself.
As I already mentioned, I am Eastern European whom Allah guided to the Truth -Alhamdulillah for this blessing!
Fulfilling the Hijab obligation was the most difficult for me, as I had a massive ego and love for fashion. I struggled a lot to start covering (it is a separate long story to describe) but for this very step Allah has rewarded me with a gift I was not even thinking of. It was really easy to establish “Annah Hariri” and I know that it was His barakah (blessing) for me Alhamdulilla. I am still connected with clothes and it is my biggest interest, but now I am doing it in the right way
◆ Who or what inspires you?
A muslim sister! I look at her when she works, when she is pregnant, when is she a full-time mom, when she is an active sports woman, or just a little girl or teenager and I try to imagine what she wishes to wear to look confident and comfortable every day. And I consider the not-yet-muslim friends of mine, especially my university friends back home, if they embrace Islam, what would they love to wear.
A while back, when I changed my Facebook profile picture to one where I was wearing a scarf on my head, I received so many ironic comments from my friends. They laughed at my new found dressing and commented on the role a muslim women has in society, the world famous adjective "oppressed". And I remember at that time, I made a promise to myself, that I will show them the beauty of covering and the honour a muslim woman carries. And now after 2 years, those same "commentators" admire what I do and moreover they support me. Some of these same friends even want to order few of my dresses!
◆ What was the highlight of your career so far as a designer?
When I receive pictures from sisters wearing my designs and they attach sweetest comments - this is the best reward!
Also this year was very exciting for us in media coverage. Our facebook page just boomed; we received a great support from the Russian muslim community, participated in the famous fashion show in California (USA), got noticed by famous muslim bloggers. I just can't stop repeating “Alhamdulillah!”
The Annah Hariri brand offers postage to South Africa and offers customers the opportunity to buy in bulk, so ladies it's a great idea to order together!
Visit the site: www.annahhariri.com