Joining an extended family of Saudi women for traditional coffee and dates at a hotel in Oman where I’d just enjoyed a local mid excursion lunch. No one spoke the same language and it was completely unplanned, having just met the hosts in the hotel foyer. I ended up dressed in the full Saudi outfit and learning that you really can have a conversation without actually speaking if you use the right hand waving and facial expressions!
Even though I travel a lot to visit family & for work I am really scared of flying. I suppose I’m a bit in ore of it. Plane travel has become so normalized for most people but if you think about it’s ingenuity it is a monumental human achievement.
Undoubtedly the fear of failure. I think most of us are conditioned to fear doing something wrong but sometimes you learn the best lessons in life from testing yourself against something new. To do this you must put the fear of failure to the back of your mind and just do the task in hand.
Designing my own collections and bringing the garments to customers is something I have always wanted to do. As a child I would get old clothes from my mum or thrift stores and pick them apart – deconstruct them to reconstruct them in a new guise. When I moved to Singapore there was a huge need for stylish resortwear, I started to design for this niche and Attaby was formed.
Attaby clothes are year round spring/summer garments that are designed to be effortlessly chic, easy to wear and are equally at home on the beach as they are in the city. I call it ‘city chic meets resortwear’. I design from a very personal point of view and try out every garment before I approve it to make sure I feel great in it and it works from morning to night whatever I’m doing that day.
I tend to use light weight fabrics due to the tropical climate I’m designing for. Primarily I use silks, crepe de chine, linens and cotton mixes. I also have a signature print for each collection that is hand printed for me in India on my choice of fabric so it is unique to Attaby.
The collection is perfect for traveling and for mothers, or even traveling mothers! All the garments are designed to be ‘multi-use’ pieces so if you have one of the dresses you can wear it as a beach cover up, then with heals & jewellery for the evening, then over a pair of leggings for the plane. And they all pack really easily.
The most difficult aspect is also the main advantage of running my own clothing company. The fact that I am accountable for everything means the resources are limited and one wrong decision can have a massive negative impact but on the flip side I can set my own rules and make autonomous decisions quickly.
I like to keep things fairly simple with a dash of colour or stand out accessories. I have always love clothes that are enduring and adaptable.
For pure escapism and imagination I loved anything by Roald Dahl. As I got older I loved reading about real life female adventurers such as pioneers wives, women who set up businesses before we were meant to, those who were the first to qualify as doctors, etc. Women who really pushed the boundaries for us all.
Coco Chanel was truly a fashion and business legend. Forget the mass produced ‘iconic’ accessories we are all familiar with and look at how women dressed before and after her revolutionary early collections. In more recent times Stella McCartney is a real inspiration as I believe she has really changed the way women view clothes and how they can be worn – the whole soft tailoring revolution was started by her. Stella McCartney also runs her businesses in a very modern way that allows them to be responsive, flexible and support a great work/life balance.
Next on the agenda is growing Attaby so that I can reach a wider audience. I also plan to expand on my prints and find partners with traditional skills such as hand embroidery for future collections.
A sketch book and pencil so I can note down any designs or ideas at any time and a good book. Obviously apart from that a capsule wardrobe, lip balm & a kohl pencil.
My mother taught me that every problem has a solution and to be open to new things.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit many fantastic places so this is a very tough question so I’m going to be cheeky and name three India, New York & Bali.
Treat others as you would want to be treated. I find being positive and honest leads to good things in business and in life.