November 21, 2011

Sponsor Spotlight: IslamicGems

Asalaamu Alaykum Ladies,

As promised, throughout this last week before Hijabi Fashion Week officially starts, we're sharing with you exclusive, behind-the-scenes looks into our sponsors: who they are and what you can expect from them! This is a new part of HFW that we're so very excited about because this is not only a chance for you to become even better fans of these fabulous sponsors, but also a great way to find out just how much support the Hijabi community has from these growing names in fashion and style!

For our first ever Sponsor Spotlight, we'll get to know about the person behind IslamicGems. But first, a little about the company. IslamicGems was founded in 2008 by self-taught hijab jewelry designer, Nida Mirza. While pursuing her dual-degrees from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Nida realized the lack of choices among hijab-friendly accessories and began creating them herself. IslamicGems claims that they are:

...the only source available [to provide] unique and high quality functional hijab jewelry. We listened to the American Muslimah and have put much time and effort into designing pins which [are] practical...We are currently the only company in the USA, and possibly the world, whose hijab jewelry embodies the practical needs of the Muslimah without compromising style.

And now, our much-awaited feature, we present you with a personal narrative about the journey of developing IslamicGems into what it is today, from founder, Nida Mirza, herself:

I am a 26 year old born and raised in NYC, fashion capital of the world. I married my high school sweet heart right out of college and was blessed with a beautiful baby girl 11 months ago. My husband has been my biggest supporter and my daughter, my biggest motivation. Being a Muslim wife and mother while managing my own business has really driven me, and it absolutely contributes to my design aesthetic. I need fuss-free hijab accessories that I can quickly throw on, but clearly look like a whole lot of effort was put in. I know how busy the soccer mom, working woman, and even a college students’ life can be. They want to look like they put effort into their looks, but don’t always have that kind of time. That is what I work to create for my customers: effortless, high-fashion hijab jewelry.

I studied design at the Fashion Institute of Technology where my love for fashion was nurtured and honed. Walking the halls of a fashion school was like being part of a street runway. Everyone was always so put-together and distinctively dressed. Being a covering woman I always struggled with putting together trendy modest outfits. Ten years ago, there weren’t options available for modest fashion. I always ended up layering and finding unique dresses and skirts to be stylish, but one thing I always struggled with and was never able to find a solution for was tasteful hijab jewelry. My friends and myself could not find any hijab accessories worth purchasing, and the few that were available were just too common for our taste. The quality was not even worth considering. We wanted something distinctive, chic, and possibly even couture, so we decided to create our own.

Starting Out
My first pieces were stick pins and since I was making these myself, my priorities were design and quality. I made sure what I created would be dependable. These pins were such a hit that in 2003 I started selling them on EBay giving birth to ISLAMICGEMS. I quickly had buyers from all over the world, Muslims and non-Muslims, which was a surprise to me. All races and religions were appreciating my designs. Over the years I altered and played around with the stick pin creating ISLAMICGEMS exclusive charm pins. In 2008 my husband motivated me to open up an e-store.

The following year, I hosted my first hijab jewelry show at the ICNA-MAS Convention. My booth was a crowd pleaser and my customers were so excited to see my designs. Over the years at my annual shows I received feedback from these customers that led me to create the brooches, and later on, the Ith-nains. My research and experience has helped me improve my designs from when I first began. 

Distinction by Design
All of ISLAMICGEMS collections are now lightweight, and therefore, do not depress the fabric around where the pin is secured. The brooch latches can be easily closed with the push of a finger; there is no need to fumble in the mirror trying to figure out which direction it locks. The stick pins are sturdy, snag-free and prick-free. The charm sets make it easy to alternate pins throughout the day without having to restyle your hijab, wile the Ith-nain pins provide double the support, preventing the Muslimah from having to choose between a head full of pins or a shifting hijab. ISLAMICGEMS is currently the only company in the USA, and possibly the world, whose hijab jewelry embodies the practical needs of the Muslimah without compromising style.

That is exactly why I believe my pins were so welcomed. I began to get a surplus of orders, which was just too much for me to be able to handle on my own. I just couldn’t continue making them by myself and finally got in touch with manufacturers. My main concern when finding a manufacturer was would they be able to maintain the high quality I so strive to provide. I now work very closely with my manufacturers to confirm each crystal is exactly where it is supposed to be and each chain is the appropriate length to give that extra support without looking tasteless. Nowadays I am busy working on a new line to be unveiled in May of 2011, for my brides! Keep a lookout for the new lines progress which I'll be updating on my Facebook page and Twitter.

I find inspiration in everyday life; from the amazing fans I meet, to the fall colors currently surrounding me. I recently visited the New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. It is an awe-inspiring 15 galleries. The intricate details on the Goa stone and gold case particularly grabbed my attention. You’ll be seeing similar details in one of my new pieces, to come.

Nida's Pick:
My personal favorite piece from ISLAMICGEMS is from the Ith-nain Collection: The Ith-nain V Hematite Hijab Pin. I just love how it goes so well with any hijab and is so quick to put on, yet looks elegant. It’s also multi-functional, like all my other pieces, in that it can add a little sparkle to my handbags and shoes. It’s a must-have piece for everyone’s jewelry collection.

You'll see more of IslamicGems during Hijabi Fashion Week, and you'll have the chance to win an item from her collection! But, don't let that stop you from getting your hands on these beautiful accessories right now. Visit her website or Facebook to see what else she's got in store.


i reminisce said...

thanks for sharing, viw my new bloglet "Greed Is A Terrible Thing" if you have time, feel free to comment/follow, thanks

Shahirah Elaiza said...

It's true, it's hard to find hijab jewellery out there. I'm so checking out Islamic Gems now! 

Fashionable Muslimah said...

Wow your work is beautiful .. love it!!!

Amalzahrah said...

beautiful... ;)

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