When Aquaini contacted me a few weeks ago, it opened the door to an unfamiliar ground. The world of sportswear for swimming. I had seen a bit about it in the media, but never looked into it. One thing did come to my mind. The voices of my muslim friends who have kids and how they would complain because when they would have their woman-only pool parties with the kids and how it was so uncomfortable to wear regular shorts and t-shirts that sticked to the body. Also, alot of mixed thoughts came to my mind regarding this type of sportswear. I think some of them will be the same as yours if you have never experience this area of hijab. So, we decided to have a chat and get to know Aquaini and one the two wonderful founders, sister Marium Nasir, that are behind this new label. So, grab a cup of hot tea and enjoy!
Sadeel: How are you today? Thank you for your patience and thank you for the opportunity. If you may please answer the following questions, I would appreciated:Aquaini(Marium): I am fine Alhamdulillah and I pray to Allah (SWT) you are also well.
Sadeel: Tell me a bit about yourself and your partner and how you guys came about this idea.
Aquaini(Marium): My name is Marium. I am happily married Alhamdulillah and I have a lovely daughter Inaaya who is coming up to 2 years in a couple of months inshAllah.
My business partner Ambreen is first a very good friend of mine and then a business partner and this alhamdulillah works very well for our Aquaini project as we both have a mutual understanding of our religious duties, family life and so on. Ambreen is a mother of mashAllah 3 lovely kids aged between 3 to 6 years.
About the Aquaini idea - it really stemmed from both my and Anbreen's out door experiences with our young families. Both of us love doing out door activities with our kids such as picnics (in summer of course!), swimming, days out to the coasts etc. Further, my husband and I like to go to a nice tropical holiday, usually around far east Asia, once a year. Whenever we went on holidays and also to the beach in the UK, I questioned (and moaned) about not having an appropriate swimwear and therefore did not have much opportunity to go in water. Once upon a time, I did manage to get something decent (covered) from Malaysia but after the birth of Inaaya, I grew out of it. Since then I have searched for something similar in the shops as well as online but really struggled to find something that I felt comfortable with, or where I did find something to my liking, it was usually quite pricey. Ambreen is a regular at the community pool in our area and she used to use normal leggings and a T-shirt but then came a day when the rules were changed and her attire was no longer compliant with the pools. She had similar problems to me when finding an appropriate swimwear and eventually had to source one from Dubai which came with a price tag too!
So our frustrations led us to the Aquaini swimwear idea. The purpose was to create something stylish but at the same time modest and affordable. Further, I also wanted something that covered my head as I frequently found that normal hijabs were not allowed at increasing number of swimming pools.
Sadeel: What does Aquaini mean?
Aquaini(Marium): The credit for the name 'Aquaini'and the slogan 'love for leisure' is entirely attributable to Ambreen. She came up with this idea and it was great. The word "Aqua" associates our collection to water which we both really wanted.
Sadeel: How has the market responded to this type of bathing suit?
Aquaini(Marium): Alhamdulillah we believe it was been a success. We have received some great feed back from our customers and we are always hungry for more feedback so we can continue to enhance the Aquaini range. We currently sell through our website (www.aquaini.co.uk) and we also have an eBay shop. InshAllah we plan to develop our sales channels further to platforms such as the Facebook shop, Amazon etc. As its a new concept with limited awareness, we do try and set up stalls at various Islamic events in the UK to not only advertise our product but also give our potential customers the opportunity to see and feel the product so they can make an informed decision about their purchase (or not).
Sadeel: Why do you think this product is needed?
Aquaini(Marium): I think I covered most of this in my answer to the first question. The main idea is to have something modest and affordable that would allow women, especially muslim women like myself, to be able to participate in water related activities such as swimming, snorkelling, water sports (within limits) and at the same time feeling comfortable and modest and without compromising on the religious guidelines of modest clothing.
To elaborate on the Aquaini's design - it consists of 2 separate waterproof garments, a lower which is similar to loose leggings and a long top which includes an attached hood. Both garments collectively cover almost the entire body with the exception of feet, hands and face. The hood provides added convenience of fellow muslim women like myself who wear a hijab by not having to wear a third garment (waterproof hijabs are quite rare anyway). Other than covering for the hijab, the hood also facilitates compliance with the requirement cover hair whilst swimming imposed by increasing number of local area and fitness centres' swimming pools.
And lastly but no the least, the main feature of Aquaini is it being waterproof and hence it is way better than the other fabric alternatives used by many muslim and also non-muslim women.
Sadeel: One of the main concerns about this type of bathing suit is the sticking to the body when getting out of the water, Does this happen with Aquaini?
Aquaini(Marium): Ahh - I covered that above. But for a direct answer, no it doesn't stick to your body. In fact, that was one of our main criteria that the swimwear is not body grabbing otherwise it may cover you but I wouldn't have called it modest as it directly contradicts with the Islamic guideline for women's clothing. The Aquaini wouldn't stick to your body when you get out of water and not only this, but my personal experience from using it is that it dries within a matter of a few minutes (obviously this would vary depending on the outside climate).
Sadeel: Where do you see Aquini 5 years from now?
Aquaini(Marium): Now that is a difficult one but really I will be happy with whatever Allah has in store for us. InshAllah if Allah wills, we would like to grow on our product range in terms of colour, styles etc and also broaden our sales channel to reach as many customers as we can. In the more near future, inshAllah, we are planning to respond to the great feed back and demand from our customers by introducing XXL sizes in our product range (from March 2012 inshAllah) and also 2 further colours near the summer (2012).
Sadeel: Tell me a bit about the fabric and why is black a prominent colour among Aquaini?
Aquaini(Marium): Now you are getting technical - lets see if I can handle this. The Aquaini fabric is 82% nylon and 18% spandex. It is light in weight and water repellent. Further, It has low water absorbency and has excellent stretch and recovery. It provides protection against UV rays and it superior in comfort. Regrading the prominency of black colour, its nothing more than our creative ability and personal preference. We also believe that black is a common colour and usually appealing to most women. Also, black provides the added convenience to women for using under garments of any colour as black would cover all colours whereas a lighter colour may not shield away the darker colours. Again, we are open to ideas and should if enough customers ask us to introduce a mainly different / lighter colour Aquaini, we would be please to build this into our range.
Sadeel: What sets Aquaini apart from other brands?
Aquaini(Marium): The idea behind Aquaini was not to compete with others, but rather make available a swimwear range which is modest, affordable and easily available.
To add to what I have covered in my previous answers, the Aquaini not only complies with Islamic boundaries of clothing for women, but it is also for consumers who are self conscious about their body or they desire to stay modest in public. For instance, similar concept swimwear is widely used amongst many non-muslim Australians as it provides skin protection. In fact, it is highly recommended by the Skin Care Association of AUS as it can block 97.5% of harmful rays.
Sadeel: Why should we buy Aquini?
Aquaini(Marium): To simply answer this, Aquaini inshAllah will enable you to enjoy the water, one of the many blessings of Allah (SWT).
Some of the benefits of Aquaini are:
- Protects you from harmful UV rays
- No hassle of applying sun cream
- Waterproof hood- helps keep hair healthy
- Keeps your modesty intact while in water
- Made from water-protected polyester
- Lets you enjoy the water,
We thank Aquaini and its founders for taking their time out to answer our questions. We wish them the best in their new business and look forward to their successful growth. InshaAllah.
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