BY ANAAM IKRAM
For many, being involved in a car crash and suffering serious injuries is a major setback, a halt in their life until they can make a comeback, but for NS Designs founder and designer Nariman Shukralla, her accident proved to be a defining moment. It led to the creation of her shoes and bags line, proudly being displayed in Showcase101 in Riyadat Mall.
From a very young age Nariman Shukralla was a fan of adding something extra to her outfits, whether it was some crystals or rhinestones, Nariman says if something was bought for her and she did not like it, she would immediately alter it herself. Her dreams of having her own business were put on hold as she got older and got busier. It was not until Nariman was involved in a car crash which resulted in serious injuries – that required multiple surgeries on her leg and back – that Nariman had the chance to once again explore the idea of working towards her childhood dream. As part of the recovery process, Nariman was constricted to wearing medicated shoes that would provide support to her back and ankles, and though they were a necessity, she says, to her they were not appealing to the eyes, “…I thought to myself, these shoes aren’t trendy, they aren’t beautiful, and I am the kind of person who loves trendy shoes. I love heels!”. It was then Nariman was inspired to create something that fulfilled the requirements of being both comfortable and fashionable.
The idea of NS Designs came about over a chat with some friends, all of whom agreed that it would be a good idea to invest in having a self-owned business after having worked as a banker her whole life. The concept, conceived two-and-a-half years ago, was of creating something completely new and from scratch, rather than enhancing an already existing item and not getting what she was looking for. Nariman, says she started by creating sandals and shoes for herself which led to her many travels around Europe, to countries such as Italy and France, to learn craftsmanship such as how to make and cut heels through short courses. Her work also took her to China to enhance her skills.
Like so, Nariman says, she had embarked on the journey to start creating her shoes. She says now before issuing any shoe being made, she first checks the skeleton of it on herself before approving it to be made, because, if the shoe is not comfortable on her – someone with damaged ankles and knees – it would surely not be comfortable for anybody else. She then widened her scope to leather bags, which led to adding lightweight and versatile leather clutch bags to her collections.
Nariman joined Showcase101 in March 2014 and has not looked back since. She says she is lucky that her plan of having her own boutique did not work out and is glad to be working with Showcase101’s Rasha Al Khunji and will continue to display her designs in the shop. Nariman says because she has to travel a lot for her work, having her products placed in Showcase101 under the care and supervision of Rasha, is a great help to her, “we are walking in the same direction. I believe in her principles about whatever she wants to do. Showcase101 is a very good platform for any startup business to help them stand on their own feet.”
Clutches and bags made from genuine leather, Nariman says that she not only is the founder of her business but is also the designer behind her creations. The bags are small, versatile pieces, that can be used for daytime and evening wear. The shoes, of course, have to be comfortable for her before the design is produced for her collection.
Her collections, are inspired by her travels and each design is based on the countries she has visited.
Her Red Sea Collection is inspired by the same-named sea in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt. Another one of her collections is based on roses, her favourite flower.
Her latest collection is divided into two segments: Victorian night time wear and the other being a collection of leather cross-body bags in multiple colour combinations, a unique creation since it is made up of three different sized bags one bigger than the other, to be either used separately or together.
Nariman’s work has garnered her much success, even being asked by the Wedding and Fashion Arabia Exhibition to display her unique creations, “I felt very happy being the only Bahraini who designs shoes and bags. I was very proud of my achievements and that further encouraged me to continue with my work.”
Having already partaken in 6-7 exhibitions around Bahrain, Nariman also got the opportunity to participate in an exhibition in Kuwait alongside three other designers from Showcase101 where she got the chance to promote her brand by displaying her signature leather clutches and shoes.
Though the proud Bahraini designer also has a line of accessories – made with precious stone – she says she would much rather stay true to creating shoes and bags and even has a summer collection planned utilising bright and vibrant colours. Nariman hopes that NS Designs will one day become an international brand.
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