Maqdeem Alnaama is a 23 year old Qatari electrical Engineer who has a passion for fashion. Her ambition drove her to become an entrepreneur and with her strong rooted culture she found a way to weave her passion and bring to the traditional Abaya a modern twist creating her own unique fashion collection.
Arab Woman Mag found out what inspired Maqdeem to peruse her passion,
Tell us how did your love for fashion and design begin?
Art has always fascinated me since a young age, I’ve always been interested in things that had an artistic touch mostly fashion and interior design and particularly when it comes to doing things myself. It probably all started several years ago at the age of 17 when we decided to renovate the house; I was involved in almost every decision made when it came to designing the house. I took this as an opportunity to apply at VCU for an undergraduate degree in interior design. Unfortunately I didn’t get an offer from VCU, so I decided to do engineering instead. However, this didn’t stop me from my passion of arts and I had in mind that when I am done from University I will do something that is related to my passion.
During my time in university, I used to design my own Abayas and I realized that a lot of people liked my designs and used to approach me on several different occasions and ask where I got my Abayas from and I would tell them that I designed them myself so they would ask where my shop is located or how they can order. At that time I didn’t have a business of course so I would tell them that I only did it for myself and maybe someday I will consider opening a business but at that time it wasn’t possible due to university commitments.
After graduating from university, it was the best time for me to open up my business and having the support of my family and my close circle of friends encouraged me to take this step.
Your choice of career in electrical engineering is far from fashion, how do you make the balance between the two?
Engineering is the main reason why I’m able to balance between my day job and business today. It taught me time management, accuracy and the ability to find the best solution to any problem that I encounter in business.
What does the abaya mean to the Gulf woman, what does it symbolize?
The Abaya symbolizes the pride of our heritage & traditions that we have inherited from our past. Moreover, the abaya meets the call of our religion (Islam) in modesty.
Do you find that the Gulf women are ready for a change and can accept wearing something other than the black Abaya? What is your aim behind it?
The most difficult aspect before starting the business is probably anticipating people’s reaction towards my collection and if it will sell. Now after being live and selling, the most challenging aspect is selling the idea of wearing colorful Abayas. People are still not ready to take that step, only a minority is willing to do so. I get a lot of requests on my collection; if I have the same design but in black or that they’re really nice but we can’t wear bright colors.
My aim is to change this concept and make it a norm to wear colorful Abayas as it is the case with black. Even though I am facing some challenges with the acceptance of colorful Abayas I have a hope that this will change.
From where did the idea of “modern” Abaya come about?
The idea of the modern colorful Abaya came from my conviction that wearing colorful abaya can affect us spiritually.
For instance, we should take the time to think of a life without colors, we will then recognize the necessity of colors in our lives. Colors can truly affect our life; it can trigger emotions, mood, happiness, and sadness.
Is there a reason that you choose to model your abaya designs personally?
Since the designs are my own with a concept I believe in I thought it is best to model it myself to show everyone that not only do I design and want to sell them but for people to see that I truly believe in this concept. Since it also requires people to accept the change, I should be the one taking this step first to encourage others.
Some might say that you personally modeling is unconventional, what do you answer them?
God created us with different minds and thoughts and that’s why I personally respect all opinions as long as there is no defamation or smearing my reputation. However, this doesn’t mean that I will adhere to the sayings of people and quit what I’m doing because I believe that I only have one life to live so I should live it the way I desire.
Would you consider designing other kinds of attire? And what do you aspire to accomplish?
I would like my name to expand internationally, my goal is not only to design Abayas but to create a conservative women’s line that is beautiful and unique.
What message do you give young girls out there whom believe that they are stuck in one career choice and are afraid of facing obstacles of change?
I believe that God has given us tremendous capacity that we should use in the right way to deliver and accomplish as much as we can in our lives. Therefore, my message would be to encourage anyone who plans to start something to take a step even if it is a small step and that with time you’ll notice that you are getting closer to your goal.
To check out Maqdeem’s Abaya Collection follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maq.deem/
For this interview translated in Arabic click here:
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