We chat with the CEO of nina neri, the latest luxury fashion brand on the scene, about being a young entrepreneur, her love for handbags and Princess Diana
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START YOURÂ OWN LABEL?
Since a very young age, I always had a keen interest towards fashion accessories, whether it was bags or shoes. Once I was done with college, I soon realized that there was a huge gap in the Pakistani market for good quality leather products at affordable prices. That is what led me to take my interest even further by doing a course in Florence, where I studied the art of designing and manufacturing bags and shoes. After I had acquired the skills needed, all that was left was to make Nina Neri come to life!
WHERE DID THE NAME COME FROM?
The name came from a couple of brainstorming sessions with my Italian team. We wanted to give the brand a catchy name, which could be incorporated in our logo as well. To have the perfect logo for a handbags and shoes brand is very important as it is directly placed in the product itself.
PERKS OF OWNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS:
If I run late I donâ€™t have a termination letter waiting on my desk (haha just kidding). On a serious note, the best thing is I get to choose a different bag for every event; leaving me with an unlimited choice of colours and designs to choose from!
WHAT IS IT LIKE BEING A BOSS-LADY?
Itâ€™s fun, as one gets to boss all the men around. Ha! But at the same time, like any job, it is quite stressful, because running a handbag manufacturing unit requires me to go into great detail over every creation. So, it requires my constant attention. One of the biggest challenges for me is not only being a girl, but also being quite young. However, what helps me succeed are my technical skills in manufacturing handbags. When you know what is needed to get the job done, age and gender go out the window.
HOW IT FEELS TO BE A WOMAN IN CHARGE:
It feels great, as I get to design all the things that I have ever wished for in a bag. Furthermore, women are running great businesses across Pakistan now, and it feels great to see Pakistanâ€™s positive image reaching the international world.
HOW DID YOU GET IN THE WORLD OF FASHION?
Iâ€™ve always liked minimalistic, classy and chic accessories and clothes. Therefore, I always wanted to build a brand that gives an Italian boutique look at an affordable price. Initially, I started my career at a garments factory in Karachi. Thatâ€™s where I made my first handbag, which took 5 days! The experience made me realize how difficult it is to make one small bag. That made me determined to learn the art of designing and crafting handbags and clutches, so I took a course in Academia Riacci in Florence. After graduating from there, I went to work at the factory of Liape, where they make products for brands such as Valextra, Vivienne Westwood and Berlutti. I feel my experiences in Florence and Liape helped me explore my talents further and helped me gain a skill which might have been harder to develop in Pakistan.
WHEN DO YOU GET INSPIRED?
There are various things, as the creative process can be influenced by practically anything. However, I would say different forms of art, the composition of flowers, the mixture of fabric, textures, and good music, are what truly inspire me. Lately, we are coming up with moodboards for our next collection, which are inspired by the fusion of Italian and Pakistani cultures, to produce something unique.
PROUDEST WORK MOMENT SO FAR:
My proudest work moment has to be getting acknowledged by the Queen of Couture herself, Bunto Kazmi. She not only encouraged me, but she believed in the brand and products and allowed us to hold a private viewing for Nina Neri at her studio. That was a day that I will never forget, as I was standing right next to a woman who I have looked upto as a designer as well as a human being.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE AESTHETIC:
Minimalistic, elegant, young, colourful and comfort oriented.
THREE MUST-HAVE ITEMS IN EVERY CLOSET:
A Chantilly lace sari, black pointed heels and a Bunto Kazmi embroidered chaadar.
THE ONE BAG EVERY GIRL SHOULD HAVE:
The Audrey bag by Nina Neri.
GO TO HAIRSTYLE:
A classic pony- tail.
YOUR FAVOURITE ACCESSORIES THESE DAYS:
WHEN ALL FAILS YOU THROW ON:
Flared pants with a basic top.
WORK QUALITY YOU ARE MOST ADMIRED FOR:
Being straight forward.
WORK QUALITY YOU ARE MOST HATED FOR:
Putting pressure to meet deadlines.
FOR BREAKFAST YOU EAT:
Shaami kebab sandwiches.
FOR LUNCH YOU EAT:
Home made daal, usually with roti.
COOLEST PART OF YOUR JOB:
Travelling around the world, exploring new trends in fashion and meeting designers.
WORST PART OF YOUR JOB:
Waiting for materials to get cleared at customs.
MOST DIFFICULT EXPERIENCE IN STARTING UP NINA NERI:
Starting up a handbag factory in Pakistan has been really difficult, yet fun! As the industry is not very prominent in the country, it has been extremely difficult to train my workers to produce quality products. Furthermore, it is really difficult to find good vendors in different parts of the world (especially Italy) to provide us with all the materials that go behind making each unit! You wouldnâ€™t guess it, but there are about fifty different components which are needed to construct the perfect handbag, and I aim to make sure each one is up to the brands mark. However, I have really enjoyed and learned a lot in this journey.
YOUR WORK- ROUTINE ON A REGULAR DAY:
10 AM to 6 PM! However, it varies from day to day and really depends on the workload! When my Creative Director is visiting from Italy, we are working day and night, and when I have family commitments, I take my day easy.
ADVICE FOR A YOUNGER YOU:
Always enjoy life, work hard and stay focused!
IF YOU COULD CREATE A BAG FOR ANY CELEBRITY WHO WOULD ITÂ BE AND WHY?
Princess Diana! I not only admired her style sense but also her personality.
FAVOURITE TRENDS THIS SEASON:
Flower prints on bags and shoes, and hand painted scarves!
TRENDS YOU ARE READY TO SEE DIE?
Building prints and heavy embroidery on lawns.
UP NEXT AT WORK, YOU ARE MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO?
Adding shoes in my collection InshAllah!
PHOTOGRAPHY Imran Fareed