CIIN Magazine chats with Dina El Sheikh and Amr Abdel Hadi from Sadafa and gets some insightful first-hand answers from high-end Egyptian clutch brand.
ÇIIN: Whom & what have been your prime sources of inspiration?
Sadafa: Our heritage deeply affects our designs. It is all around us. Egypt is truly a walking museum, everything that you see around you is like a diamond in the rough. The SADAFA woman is a woman who truly appreciates details. SADAFA is a very delicate piece that takes extensive hours to meticulously produce a single bag. She is not dictated by fashion fads, but she truly appreciates expressing her own style. Any woman can gracefully pull off a SADAFA.
Take us through the process and timeline of your work, from initial inspirations to product conception. How long has it all been in the works?
Initially we have a concept for the collection, then the inspiration happens, then we let it flow organically, to a great extent there is a lot of trial and error. We constantly like to experiment with design and form. We like to keep our designs very dynamic, yet we constantly look around us for further inspirations; be it from nature, the city, the people etc.
A single clutch can take up to 200 hours to be produced. Every piece is cut by hand and meticulously placed like a puzzle. It is entirely made by hand. In our fast paced world, people are constantly seeking change. And to be able to follow up on that, everything has been created in bulk and mass production. We enjoy the process of putting in your heart and soul while creating a piece. It is almost as if the artisan in transferring all his energy while creating each piece.
While looking at a SADAFA bag, you can really see that each tiny piece of mother of pearl has been perfectly placed next to the other by hand. The artisans that have created that unique piece, have only inherited that knowhow from their ancestors since hundreds of years ago.
What does your typical day at the office look like?
Super fun. Not a single day is similar to the other. We do not have a specific daily routine that we follow. There are days where we are really focusing on design and production. While on other days we may be juggling between office work, photo shoots and events.
What are the main challenges you have faced?
Every aspect of building your brand has its challenges. Yet with every challenge that we face, we are blessed with countless opportunities to learn from. We like to break it all down into smaller steps, as to not overwhelm ourselves.
Are you planning on expanding your line? Any ventures into jewellery, interiors or shoes? (Platform pearl heels would be amazing!)
The sky is truly the limit. We are deeply in love with what we do, and specifically, mother of pearl is a very rich and versatile medium to work with. We are really looking forward to integrating our designs into wider product ranges.
What are your goals and wishes for the future of your company?
Like all regional brands, we would really love to see our products gain international recognition. We believe that our culture and heritage is so grand and diverse, that it has many tales to be told.
Are your collections tailored to a certain regional market or clientele?
Although our designs are inspired by our heritage, we have noticed that they have gained the admiration of many markets and regions. We genuinely believe that our pieces are timeless, a SADAFA may be passed down to generations.
In the future do you think you will venture into designing new shapes (e.g.: circular) using your inlay technique or will you stick to your signature rectangular shape inspired by Arabic boardgames and oriental angular shapes?
Yes of course. We are in the process of designing new shapes and models. While first establishing SADAFA, we really wanted to focus mainly on the designs and the technique of the Mother of Pearl inlay. We did not want to divert the attention newer models and shapes. But now, as the markets have truly been mesmerised by the inlay technique, we feel that our clients are truly looking forward to what SADAFA has to offer next.
What has been your experience being an Egyptian female entrepreneur?
Actually, we are a couple that works together. The dynamics of it are very interesting, we really do admire one another’s view on things. It is very Yin and Yang, and we feel that it is truly reflected in our designs. Mother of Pearl is very feminine, yet the box form that it is placed on gives a very sharp masculine edge to it.
Other than Mother of Pearl, do you source any other prominent materials?
We focus to a great deal that most of the elements in SADAFA are natural. The box skeleton is beech wood, the closure is made of semi-precious stones mainly Agate, and the shoulder strap is handmade brass.
In the future, do you see yourself expanding your brand in the realm of shapes, materials used or variety of products as well ?
Yes. The opportunities are endless.