An African princess: Amna Elshandaweely
Her brand reflects the beauty she saw in every place she visited, each book she read, all the cultures she knew and all the songs she listened to. That’s what her Instgram page says about her. After visiting it and seeing her amazing outfits, we couldn’t help but want to meet her, and now we can say that she is as amazing in person just as in words.
P: What was your motive when you first started?
A: Stories; I have always loved to tell the story behind someone’s way to dress up and I wanted to give people stories, something to represent their characters or the way they hope to see themselves.
P: Have you always wanted to be a designer?
A: I always wanted to dress women up. I have always loved the small things, the details, but I knew I must develop my talent first.
P: What kind of education did you get to work in fashion?
A: I have a diploma from Italian fashion academy, I attended this workshop in “EL Sayeda Zeinab” with some amazing ladies who only wanted to learn how to sew and I attended a workshop with Kegham Djeghalian; it was called “stylist as a designer to be” for 3 days, 12 hours per day at Photopia, it was so amazing. After all you can never stop learning.
P: What makes you different?
A: I tend to use handmade pure natural fabric with minimum amount of change in it; I like to use it as it originally was, as pure linen. But yet I use colors, making every piece more unique and still simple. Sometimes people love the pieces because it represents to them what they aim to be; like the girl who bought the “river road” skirt, she said she never wears skirts but she saw herself in it.
P: Which is closer to your heart, blogging or designing?
A: Designing has always been closer to my heart. I started with blogging because people are more attached to a brand that starts with a story simultaneously; they tend to trust it. But when I started my own designs I deleted everything related to blogging.
P: Describe your personal style.
A: I am kind of a moody person who is in love with colors, specially the energy ones. I don’t like tight clothes as I am adventurous, my friends tell me I have the style of someone who is going to climb a mountain, so I prefer wide clothes and jumpsuits. When it comes to skirts they have to be really unique. So, you can simply say I am a casual girl.
P: What’s your collection inspiration?
A: Nature with all its colors: olive green, green, orange and burgundy; places I have been to, with all the stories and music behind them.
P: Do you keep updated with fashion?
A: I like to stay updated, but I tend to create my own board. I am not really into trends; as jumpsuits, for instant, they have always been my thing even before they got huge and even after they fade they will always be.
P: How does it feel when you see someone wearing your design?
A: I have always loved my friends’ compliments, but I prefer the customers’ one. I get so stressed when they buy something until they receive it and become completely satisfied with it. And if something was wrong about the size or anything, I fix it, because I want them to be 100% happy. I believe in building a community rather than profit only and then we keep chatting, even after delivering the piece, as we now have something in common that we both love.
A: Well first, when people talk about Kenya they tend to reference it as Africa and they forget we are also Africans. They are very similar to us there; there is so much common between here and there, even the music is similar to that in Nubia. I stayed there for almost 2 to 3 weeks and I wanted to convey my whole experience and everything I saw there. I used this fabric they use to make cushion to make a skirt that will stay fixed no matter how you move, hence you can always feel as an African princess. I even used dark skinned models in the photo-shoot.
P: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A: Of course I want to have a team for ideas, to become the owner of a brand, and have branches and a community of believers. But the most important thing is to keep being myself.
P: What is your greatest fear?
A: My biggest fear is my ideas getting stolen; I don’t want to lose trust in others nor become selfish and stop sharing with them my thoughts and dreams.
P: Aren’t you afraid of failure?
A: Well I believe in manpower; if you want to succeed and do something , you will.
P: Define fashion.
A: Fashion is being you in a garment. Take fabric and represent your inner soul. The little details that say who you are, they are what give you confidence; they are you.