Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Hijab Style Exclusive: Vela Interview

Marwa and Nora
Today, Hijab Style rings you an exclusive interview with Marwa Atik and Nora Diab, founders of the fashion brand Vela. Vela's mission is to create fashionable and unique hijabs with a distinctly American style. The scarves are all designed and handmade by the girls themselves; read on to find out more...

Jana: Tell us, who are Marwa and Nora?

Marwa: I'm 19 years old and was born and raised in the U.S. and my parents are part Turkish and part Syrian. I'm currently attending California State University Fullerton as a sophomore where I'm majoring in Communications Public Relations and minoring in Entrepreneurship.

Nora: I am 19 years old. This is my second year in RCC - Riverside Community College. I am currently majoring in Psychology and will hopefully transfer to a UC by this fall.

Jana: How did the idea for 'Vela' come about?

Marwa: After graduating from high school in 2008, I began spending some summer times in my room just drawing random graphic designs, and one day I traced a scarf and drew one of my graphic designs onto it. Then I continued to make drawings of different designs on scarves. So that's where my inspiration began. But I never thought about actually going out and applying what I had. I barely showed them to anyone, it was just a side hobby I did for fun. Then in August of 2009, Nora and I were talking on the phone like any other normal night and she came up with the idea to just start designing scarves. At the beginning I was all for it because it was something that I really wanted to do and knowing that I had a friend wanting to do it with me I thought, "If I'm going down, then at least I have some one to fall with me." So in the beginning I did it for fun, and I prepared myself for negative reactions from the start.

Nora: Oh man, Marwa pretty much summed up everything from the moment she brought it up till last summer. I remember it being such an exciting, yet nerve-racking experience for the both of us. We expected the worst from this and instantly began to think of how people will perceive our designs. But being there for one another, has only strengthened our confidence in one another and ourselves. The reassurance Marwa gives me about certain designs has only pushed me and motivated me to continue. The basis of ' Vela' began with just thoughts and dreams, and we turned it into a reality for ourselves and other Muslim women.

Bella Couture
Jana: What have people's reactions been so far to your scarves?

Marwa: As I've said before, I'm not an optimistic person so I expected more negative feedback than positive. But alhamdulilah we have been having nothing but positive reactions from people.

Some people get wide eyed and can't believe we made that, whilst others just approach me saying that they support it and are fans of the page. I think the best reaction I get is when I have Americans come up to me complimenting me on my scarf. I won't forget the time I was in Fashion Island at Newport Beach and I was wearing the Victorian Pleat scarf. I was in Forever 21 with my cousin, and I had two Iranian women come up and ask me where I got that scarf from. When I told them I made it and me and my friend had a company started, they began encouraging me to sell the product in Iran and how many women are dying for something different like this. I love the support and bright ideas I get from strangers.

That same day I had an American compliment me on my scarf. I JUST LOVE IT! Because them coming up to me complimenting my scarf is an immediate conversation starter and eventually they lead on to the next question which is: Why do you wear the scarf? It's a way to send out the message and awareness to people and give them a better understanding of why we wear the hijab.

Nora: It still surprises and amazes me to this day that from day one, the feedback we have been getting from fans was not just Muslims, but non-Muslim women as well. Everyone in my life and our fans have been SO supportive; words can't do justice. I'm racking my brain trying to remember if I read anything that was negative or heard something that was, but couldn't. Today, I was sitting in class and a student I barely talked to, randomly taps my shoulder and gives me such a beautiful compliment on one of the hijabs I had made and was wearing that day.

Jana: How do you manage keeping up with orders with work/studies?

Marwa: Oh god I still can't answer that question for myself! I work part time at Urban Outfitters and go to school part time, so it's definitely been a challenge trying to balance them all together. But so far I haven't failed so I must be doing something right.

Nora: It's so hard to commit fully to both without having to be a bit loose on one. I am still in the process of balancing my life out in terms of Vela, my school and the Arabic Saturday School I work at. It's tough, but I am always up for challenges.

Sailor Wrap

Jana: Where do you hope to go with Vela in the future?

Marwa: My passion has always been for art and being able to incorporate that with something that I feel so strongly about (which is my hijab), was the perfect combination for me. This is my future and present, and all that I'm working for, I hope to put it into my company and help it grow. Insha'allah my goal is for Vela to become a brand many Muslim women know and wear and find inspiring.

Nora: Though I have so many different goals set for myself, Vela will always be something I would love to expand on and eventually have it become a well-known brand and an inspiration for Muslim women. Amongst the different goals I have set for myself, one of them is using the passion I have for fashion and change to the fullest advantage. This is something I want to continue to strive in and hopefully will continue to further motivate me into expanding Vela.

To see more from the Vela collection, join the Facebook page here.


[[[ x Smiley x ]]] said...

Great Interview Jana!
I love their hijab designs, so unique. That pink hijab is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

what a wonderful selection of designs.. they look like something that's come off a runway.. which I'm sure they will be parading their designs on very soon.

Well done Vela girls, you are an inspiration to the younger one, our new talents of the future. MashaaAllah

Radeyah راضية said...

They're design are really beautiful and unique, I love it!

Great post x

Hadia said...

Mashallah, I'm impressed!
Dear Marwa, dear Nora: good luck with your project!

Yasmin said...

These are so beautiful, Masha'Allah. Can you please tell me if they are selling these sacrves at all and where I can buy them from?
Jazaak Allaah

fuzzy said...

Their collection is stunning. absolutely beautiful

india_mania said...

i dunno what to say !! i am just in shock coz i saw that these 2 sisters did something like what i have also been dreaming.. and they r 19!! this is incredible !! u have no idea what i would do to be with them !! its just wonderful MashALLAH.. i am also a Turkish and i am 14 years old (: i am so inspired by them and i wanna thank you for posting this !! this is AMAZING !! thank you really !! i would LOVE it if u can give me more info about them.. i wish i could just talk to them.. :/ i am still so impressed !! wow..

Tasbeeh said...

@ Yasmin: They are selling the scarves! Go to their Facebook page, you can email them with the design you'd like :)

Maryam said...

ooh, I want one of everything :)

MashaAllah Marwa and Nora are beautiful, just like their hijabs.

Anonymous said...

Jazaak Allaah, Tasbeeh, for the info.


Ghaida Tsurayya said...

really great Idea! subhanallah.. :)

they're really inspire me! :)

daily fashion muslimah said...

subhanallah..she is so beauty.
n thehijab very nice for inspiration..i love it so much

Anonymous said...

very inspiring!!!

juju from the sisters of


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