Interview with Sheika Hend Faisal Al Qassemi
“Fashion embraced me and gave me wings’’
Sheikha Hend is a highly accomplished fashion designer, published journalist, bestselling author, editor in chief of Velvet magazine, and advisor of CFD as well as a recipient of an array of sterling accomplishments! I had the privilege and opportunity to interview Sheikha Hend when she visited our college to present an inspirational talk. Below you will read the responses to the questions presented to her that might inspire you in your career as a designer.
How do you keep up with all the responsibilities you have?
I strongly believe in time management and delegation.
Do you visit all of your different business every day?
No, I don’t visit them daily; I delegate the responsibilities and monitor the work. I used to be involved in all the projects previously as I enjoyed being hands on. It has become essential to delegate now because of my schedule.Now you have developed a team of great people so how did you work/function in the past?
Previously I used to develop new designs every week, find new fabrics, and produce them, but then I realized it was impractical. I then discovered about the different seasons within the fashion industry and decided to limit number of designs and mass produce them by having the correct chain of distributors and point of sales. Currently people are bursting with ideas which I intend to incorporate later in my designs. The most important part of this process was finding my style of working and being organized.
When did you choose fashion design as a career option?
I didn’t choose it, it choose me! I am an architect by profession. I came into fashion industry as young people like enjoy fashion and I think media liked me and capitalized on me as I was seen as Princess Jasmine. Fashion embraced me and gave me wings.
According to you, what skills are required to be a successful designer?
They should be confident with their design, they have to love it, be willing to embrace it, and secondly, if they want to sell it to mass market, they need to know their customers.
As new designers they tend to copy designs, what is your opinion on that?
Who doesn’t copy designs, these days, as the modern designers don’t invent anything, they just reinvent the old designs? 2 years ago, I created an abaya using a tweed fabric, at that time people said no one will wear it and it won’t be practical for Dubai’s weather, but tweed fabric is made from natural fibers so people won’t feel hot in them and it will never be a fad. Now everyone uses it and many more versatile fabrics like brouqade, and curtain fabric as they are of good quality and it compliments one’s figure. This taught me that people will first laugh at you, then they attack you, then they copy you so I am in a comfortable place.
Being an old brand, I am very secure and comfortable where I stand, I even wear other designers’ pieces, but success doesn’t come easy, it takes time and investment and a long wait for being successful and recognized by people. There was a well-known Italian brand which took 4 years to be successful. It takes time and requires strong financial support and now it is a fixture in the luxury section of the UAE.
How do you deal with stress?
I couldn’t live without it! Stress to me is, having too much work or too little, you just need to find the correct measure and balance to deal with it. I handle it as I have capable individuals handling them.
How did you come up with your brand name?
In the beginning I named it…. And then …... but later I thought I would use my own name as I am comfortable with my own name.
Which fashion designers you admire?
I admire the legends’ that have passed away 50 years ago. I look at the history of what they have done. I would follow the new ones, but I admire the old ones like Coco Channel, YSL, and Dior.
What is your opinion on sustainable collection?
I am completely in favor of it as this the future and I even use natural fibers like bamboo cotton. I don’t use synthetic fabrics as my customers do not like to wear plastic either.
Do you follow any sustainable rules?
Yes, we use all the remaining fabric cuttings as stuffing for pillows and also develop new patterns from them. Clothes for Barbie dolls are also made from this.
What was the criterion used for the designers you collaborated with for the royal gala?
Creativity, durability, quality and making a statement, either through comfort or by adornment is what I stand for.