Changes are good, but initiatives are what pilots them. Meet Nahda Designs. A Californian based clothing shop that has taken the initiative towards producing eco-friendly scarves. We had a chat with Stylist and Executive Vice President La'Tanya Fi Zikri from Nahda Designs to give us the insight on their eco-friendly approach and bit more.
Sadeel(SM): Tell us a bit about your new role at Nahda Designs.
La'Tanya(ND): Well, I started as a Stylist Intern in early 2013 and soon after elected and offered the position of Executive Vice President. In this new role, I fill in for the CEO when she is not available. I adjudicate how to maximize Nahda Designs’ operating performances and help to achieve its financial goals. My array of responsibilities extend from directing team meetings, preparing operating budgets, project management oversight, maintaining a healthy work environment, and streamlining strategic business development alongside general operations.
Sadeel(SM): I have an understanding that you have extensive knowledge on the trade of yarn making. May you share with us a bit of your story and background experience?
La'Tanya(ND): I love this question! Well, I was born and raised on the Navajo Reservation in Northern Arizona. Most of us were raised as shepherds. As shepherds, we are responsible for maintaining and protecting the flock – I took on this responsibility at age 3. During the summer months, we shear the flock of their wool/fleece. This wool is then washed and hung to dry. Next, we card the wool with two (2) flat, rectangular, wooden paddles with steel pins to remove all the debris; done in small amounts. We then take the carded wool and begin the spinning process using a wooden spindle; rolling it up into balls of yard as it comes off the spindle. Lastly, my grandfather used to gather for us, sands of different colors which we’d use for dye; some we’d buy if we didn’t have a specific color. Once all the yarn was given their designated colors, my grandmother would begin weaving her beautiful rugs. She sold them for about $200-$500 each.
Featuring Nahda Designs Tribal Cotton Silk
Sadeel(SM): When was the idea of the Nahda's Eco Initiative born?
La'Tanya(ND): Nahda’s idea of eco-initiative stemmed from an inspiring conversation about a year ago. The idea to bring our communities to advocate and demand with a ‘green’ conscience immediately became an integral part of Nahda Designs.
Sadeel(SM): Why does Nahda Designs feel it is important to take an eco-initiative with its products?
La'Tanya(ND): We believe that the public needs to be well informed of the dangers of man-made fabrics, especially those that contain chemicals that are harmful to the ones who make the products and the ones who wear them. If consumers demand eco-friendly products, the retailers will make the switch. We need to spread the word by action.
Sadeel(SM): How does religion play in the Nahda's Eco Initiative?
La'Tanya(ND): We can say it is many things, but the root of all this can be found in Surah Baqarah, ayat 30:
Remember when your Lord said to the angels, “I am going to create a deputy on the earth!”… (2:30)
Allah (SWT) gave Prophet Adam (AS) the unique ability to name all things, the ability to learn, and the freewill to decide between the good and the bad. In order to uphold the responsibility of being the khalifa (deputy) upon the earth, we (Bani Adam) have to work hard it. With this faculty and reasoning, we are then able to survive upon the Earth; to be the caretakers of the world.
- According to Ibn Masʿūd (RA): man is in a position to apply the laws of Allah; being a deputy is a test to follow Allah’s (SWT) guidance and worship Him; also to develop and take care of earth; since Allah creating everything for us, we are in a special position.
- I’d say this is the underlying reason that Nahda Designs’ Eco-Initiative must be established, conveyed, and upheld, insha’Allah.
Sadeel(SM): What standards or steps make a product eco-friendly?
La'Tanya(ND): We took several steps we took to uphold our eco-commitment began with our scarves. For our Jersey Scarves, we made the switch to cotton jerseys in an effort to be more green and are in the process of switching to organic cotton in the near future. As for our cotton silk collection, it's an all-natural blend of cotton & silk, the only other type of hijabs we sell outside of cotton.
- For our skirts, we are still selling our 2012 collection and hoping to make the switch to natural fabrics in 2013-2014.
- Our 2013 Dresses, Gowns & Abayas: We've already begun sourcing and we're doing everything within our ability to source biodegradable materials (all the way down to the buttons and trims). These will be featured at our 3rd Annual Relief on the Runway in New York, happening in September during New York Fashion Week insha’Allah. The date is tentative but will send you a ‘Save the Date’ invite once we have that confirmed, insha’Allah.
- Lastly, we are in the process of researching and looking for the best eco-packaging materials, which are also cost effective; from the shipping boxes to biodegradable gifting supplies down to eco-friendly packaging tape and even the printed marketing materials we distribute.
cotton silk scarves
Sadeel(SM): What has been the reaction of your customers to Nahda's Eco Initiative?
La'Tanya(ND): More and more of our customers understand. They realize that it needs to be recognized. We are tired of mass produced items being shipped in containing labels with false information. It says cotton blend, but what is the percentage? What is it blended with? Do our consumers know what acetate is? Or viscose? Wholesalers get away with a lot; there is just no accountability because most of our consumers are unaware of what they are purchasing. We would like to organize, educate and make the switch. We would love to work with like-minded professionals in this industry to spread awareness about this matter. We hope to inspire others to join us in our Hijabulously Green Campaign. The more logos backing this project up, the better.
Sadeel(SM): What other extra curriculum activities is Nahda Designs involved in?
La'Tanya(ND): One extracurricular activity that Nahda Designs in currently involved in is The Community Empowerment Swap Meet which held every first Saturday of the month in Los Angeles. Website here.
-Another event we supported was Artistic Beats 2 on May 11th. They raised funds for TWLOHA, which stands for: To Write Love On Her Arms, they are a mental health advocacy. Website here.
Part of the Nahda Team
Sadeel(SM): You are also a headscarf stylist, how would you describe your style?
La'Tanya(ND): My styles reflect my colorful personality; it is fun and always versatile with the ability of keen adaptation. I can create soft and subtle to wild and eccentric. My influences stem from my indigenous culture of creativity to my love of futuristic, sci-fi artistry. I thank God for these blessings. Alhamdulillah.
Sadeel(SM): What type of women is Nahda Designs?
La'Tanya(ND): Nahda Designs has always been the empowerment of women. This year’s Relief on the Runway theme is: Azizah Women – women who are strong, bold, and amazing. Great, dedicated women who have worked hard to make the world a better place and have not given up despite the odds.
Sadeel(SM): What is next in 2013 for Nahda Designs?
La'Tanya(ND): We have quite a 2013 Line Up for Nahda Designs.
- June 1 TX Fashion For Compassion Show
- August 30-Sep 2 DC ISNA Convention
- September NY 3rd Annual Relief on the Runway Show
- October 22-26 TO Nahda Grand Opening /Toronto Fashion Week
- November 17 NJ American Muslim Consumer Conference (AMCC), FB here.
- December 26 IL MAS-ICNA Convention
Sadeel(SM): Anything you’d like to add?
La'Tanya(ND): We are excited for the upcoming Fashion For Compassion fashion show in Dallas, TX. We will be featuring our 2013 Spring Collection of scarves, both cotton jersey and cotton silk. It will be confidently different and interesting, insha’Allah. Definitely a feature to stay abreast of. Any good that we say or do is from Allah swt & any wrong we commit or say is from ourselves; please forgive us.
Stylist and Vice President La'Tanya Fi Zikri
We thank La'Tanya for her time and designers behind Nahda Designs for giving us their time and a wonderful insight on their new eco-friendly approach. We wish the best in their business and hope to catch them in one of their upcoming events!
View Nahda Designs Spring Collection 2013 Catalogue.
Shop Nahda Designs: www.nahdadesigns.com
visit our new shop www.modshop.us
Shop Nahda Designs: www.nahdadesigns.com
visit our new shop www.modshop.us