She grew up loving fashion, showing interest in fabric when she was as young as five years old. Sara El Emary noticed a need for cool, trendy fashion that was also modest and conservative. Now, 10 years later, she is a fashion designer known for her high-quality designs that combine edge with modesty as well as comfort. We speak with her about modest fashion, self-expression and girl power!
What first drew you towards fashion and fashion design? Did you notice a shortage in modest clothes targeting trendy hijabis?
Fashion has been in my blood ever since I can remember. I started designing some of my own clothes since I was 12. And yes, there was a shortage in modest fashion, as I started 10 years ago. It was really hard to find conservative chic, comfortable and trendy designs, and that was one of my main motivations to start.
What were the greatest obstacles that faced you as a fashion designer? And how did you overcome them?
When I started, I was a mother of two who just moved back from the States with zero educational background in fashion. So, it was really hard to start, as I had no idea where to go, who would manufacture, where to buy the fabrics from, and so on. I got to learn in time until I reached the point where I can draw and make patterns myself. I have my own workshop now, where tailors work for me, and we also outsource.
What was your family and friends’ reaction to your decision to become a fashion designer. Did they recommend more “traditional” career paths for you?
Actually, everyone was pro the idea and pushed me to do it.
What is your favorite thing about fashion design? Would you say it is a form of self-expression for you?
I believe that fashion is a kind of art and for sure it’s a way of self-expression. I can build a story with every style I see.
In your opinion, how can fashion designers use fashion to empower women?
Fashion is a tool of empowerment. For example, we use Bold, Power, Confidence, Free, Authentic and East meets West to describe our brand. Sometimes you see a very edgy design that speaks out and you can tell how powerful the person wearing it is without them speaking.
How would you suggest female entrepreneurs support each other?
I think female careers are moving in a more positive direction. Yes, we need to support each other. Don’t ever be afraid to help a startup, we all went through that and wished we could find some support and help.
You empowered Hijabi women by giving trendy conservative fashion choices, do you think this was a big dream that you already checked off your list?
It wasn’t a dream to help Hijabi women, it was just a small intention, but one of the main goals behind my job is spreading modesty in a trendy way, which means it can suit all women, not only Hijabis. They suit modern women in general.
Most Egyptian women have had to answer the question “Hanefra7 Biki Emta” before in reference to marriage, despite any accomplishments they may have already made, what would you say in response to that question?
Life is a journey that you plan for yourself, and it can move with or without marriage. I’ve been married for 17 years now and I did it extremely early in my life. No one ever thought that I would be doing what I’m doing right now, from business to grownup kids to skydiving. The thing is, with or without marriage, we can all do it.