Meet Marlen Al Atrash Abdallah from Jordan residing in Lebanon. She is a designer of women’s accessories and gift items, a dedicated social worker and founder of the flower and garden group in Abu Dhabi. She initiated and oversees the “Zilzal al mahaba” initiative in 2005, which is functioning now under the name of “Heik A7la” in partnership with Amman municipality. The aim of these initiatives is to support youth and instill in them a culture of good citizenship and high moral values.
Arab Woman Mag asked Marlen about her journey, passions, and dreams and this is what she shared with us,
What made you want to be a designer?
I inherited a talent from my mother and grandmother; I consider myself to have been blessed and have worked every day to enhance this gift. I started at a young age, with dedication and passion and through the support of a loyal base of clientele, I managed to grow my product lines from handmade traditional gifts to later include designer women’s accessories as well.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Our rich heritage is my inspiration; the Arab tradition is clearly reflected in my designs, where I tend to use a lot of calligraphy, embroidery, brass & stones in my creations. I have been blessed to reside in many different Arab countries and have been inspired by each. This is represented in my work, which reflects multiple cultures in handicrafts that are mostly related to occasions and gift items.
How did you come up with your idea?
My surroundings play a big role in how I think and innovate. I have learned much from my clients, for example, their preferences and ways of thinking, and I believe it is important to include many people and institutions in the creative design process.
In addition, I tend to reflect on the specific circumstances of our world on a day to day basis; for example, seasons play a part with the choice of color, International trends are always considered, the location and style of display, and so on. Since I exhibit in different Arab Gulf states, each country has its own style and inspiration. Starting that first design always allows the creative process to begin in earnest, and it grows from there.
How are your designs different or unique from others?
The collaborative approach I utilize always guarantees that multiple views are considered in shaping designs and products. It allows me to consolidate multiple, unique ideas and create a tangible end product that is highly differentiated. I am driven to do things differently. If for example, an idea resembles something that already exists in the market, it is immediately scrapped. There are many different approaches that make my products unique, and artistic and creative touches that I embed in all my work. Many of my clients immediately recognize a “Marlene’s Original” because of these small, but important distinctions.
What are some of the challenges that faced you in your line of business and how did you overcome them?
Sales of Gift Items are heavily attuned to the seasons and market circumstances. In any economic downturn, for example, people spend less on luxury and gift items. To overcome these challenges, I began working on differentiated products that can be used on a day to day basis by women, such as accessories. This type of strategy and planning approach is important for any business – and it worked.
How do you balance between your work and family/social life?
I look at time as something that needs to be planned and prioritized. I also firmly believe that one should never leave today’s work for tomorrow. Through this focus, I am able to decide on how to best allocate my time to suit the important people in my life, including my family, clients and friends.
Who is your biggest supporter and motivator?
My husband and children have been my prime supporters, as well as my clients; I have to say Princess Rym Ali of Jordan has also played a great role as a motivator with her appreciation of my talent.
What are some of your future dreams and goals and what are you doing to make them come true?
Establishing new markets for my line of women’s accessories in Europe and the United States and expanding , to continue providing ladies in less fortunate areas with a chance to live in dignity is my future target; social media is a great tool and I constantly find it allows me to broaden my network and reach new markets and customers. Ultimately, any move towards a new market will require further creativity and inspiration to ensure that whatever you develop is aligned to the market’s particular preferences and cultural standards. I do love this challenge and am ready for it.
What advice you would give girls and women whom want to get into the design and fashion business?
I believe to survive in a highly competitive market you have to be innovative, creative and always ahead of the market. Create your own identity, take things one step at a time, and continue educating yourself. If you believe in your capabilities you can always achieve your goals.
From Al An TV on Zilzal AL Mahaba initiative
For more information about Marlene’s designs and products please check out the following links:
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/InspirationsByMarlene
Heik A7la initiative : https://www.facebook.com/heika7la
Twitter: @marolisa instagram: marleneabdallah
Pinterest: Marlene Abdallah LinkedIn: Marlene Abdallah
Some of our designs are available at The Mall Doha,
Beit AL Zubair Art Gallery – Muscat
Souk Zara outlets –Jordan
Gallery located @ Beit Shocair for Culture & Heritage