Tell me how and when everything started.
Everything started about 2 years ago, after a career in finance and general management. I had just finished an MBA at Harvard Business School and felt very anxious, as my goal has always been to start my own business one day. My father is an entrepreneur, my mother is an entrepreneur, and I always wanted to create something of my own. I chose fashion simply because it is what I am personally passionate about. I love it, I live it and I breath it… it makes me happy and takes me to a world of beauty and creativity. And I wanted my business to be in the industry that I loved, so that I would wake up every day excited to start work, never get bored, have resilience and sustenance, and therefore the strongest drive and chance of success.
So, I started the Dareen Hakim Collection just over 2 years ago, incorporating my business and management background from my past experiences, to pursue this love for accessories, creativity and art.
What launched me into it with confirmation of my concept is happened during my wedding in Lebanon. I had all my guests there from over 20 countries and planned a week of celebration and exploration of the country. After the week, I noticed my friends admiring Lebanese art and beauty and wanting to take a memory home than was a true reflection of their experience. To me, my collection represents what Lebanon is and what I am as a result… a mix of past and present, old and new, simple and bold, rustic and contemporary, tradition and style … the beauty of opposite in a single piece.
When did you first know that you wanted to be in the fashion industry?
In my childhood, I had always naturally picked up drawing and painting. I remember at the age of 4 waiting for my aunt at her office, and just picking up a pencil and drawing the pet bird with such a level of detail. I then started painting on silk and experimenting with it to make my mom scarves. I learned how to knit from my grandma and designed dress, tops, craves, skirts for my dolls.
Then in school I asked to take a ceramics class and designed pottery pieces for my family. I was just always interested and attracted to creation. As I grew up, this interest turned very much to fashion as my mom was a super fashionista, styling her little girl from head to toe, not to mention the influence of her closets full of Parisian designer brands that I would use to style myself and HER. While I have an obsession with handbags, it doesn’t stop there! I also love shoes, apparel, and jewelry… I have no bias ☺ But there is always a consistency in my aesthetic style… it’s always bold and contrasting. Contrast is a huge part of it. Whether with regards to fabrics, textures, eras, cultural elements… I love to mix it together, making for deep interesting creations.
Where do you get your inspiration for your collection?
Everywhere…literally! I am internally inspired by my Lebanese culture and heritage yet externally inspired by the current landscape I live within. I gain a lot of my inspiration from the subtleties of everyday life and my surroundings, my travels, architecture and often anything unrelated that passed me… like a construction site. It is really great living in such a vivacious metropolitan city, full of stimuli and diversity. But, my Lebanese heritage has always been an inspiration in both self-expression and my personal aesthetic, and it is this cultural influence that’s increases my attraction to the concept of contrasts which defines my collection.
What advice would you give someone considering a similar path?
Although it’s a hard road to travel down, it is worth every minute of it. Not every day is easy, or a success, but I truly love what I do and don’t consider it a “job”. It’s those small successes that drive me each day … a husband asking me to send an inspiring note to his wife with her bag, a fan across the world telling me she saw my bag on 3 people at a wedding she attended, a proud parent telling me “you did it” … each little win is a step forward in this journey, and the bigger wins are just the cherry on top. My best advice is to follow your heart because that’s what you’ll be best at… and to find people who support you unconditionally. With those two elements, you can do whatever you put your mind to.
What makes your handbag collection unique?
In creating my handbags, I wanted to bring unique elements together. For example, I’ll use a material, like fine, delicate, supple leather, with a modern brushed effect and contemporary clean lines, together with an oversized, raw, heavy metal that’s finely craved in an ancient authentic calligraphy … I think that creating something so unique and original lends itself to what fashion is meant to be. As a designer you are meant to design things that people have not seen before. I like wearing such statement pieces, as they’re a reflection of a deep story and a deeper reflection of who you are… a powerful message.
How would you describe your personal style?
Sophisticated, fearless, and … “bold, chic, and unexpected”! Which is the brand’s motto ☺
What’s next for your company?
I would like to continue to evolve the line and bring beautiful handbags to women across the world. We are expanding into new silhouettes, both smaller and larger, and interpretations of our concept to build on the signature pieces such as our Le Icon and Le Capri. I am also looking to expand into new categories, but when it’s the right time and the right place. I’m really enjoying this phase for now!