Label Lust: Dareen Hakim Interview

03rd May 2012

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Dareen Hakim’s clutches they are the perfect fusion of chic silhouettes with a touch of Middle Eastern flavour. I caught up with the creative force Dareen to get more of an insight into the oh soooo beautiful brand.

Describe the brand in one sentence?

Chic. Bold. Unexpected.

What’s the story behind the label?

The story started about 2 years ago, after a career on Wall Street in finance and general management. I had just finished an MBA at Harvard Business School and was anxious to pursue my goal of starting 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. My true passion has always been in design and fashion. I love it, I live it and I breathe it… it makes me happy and takes me to a world of beauty and creativity. And I wanted my business to be centred in this world, 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. The Dareen Hakim Collection is my own creative outlet to explore and express all of my passions and inspirations.

From the inscriptions on some of the clutches it’s clear your Lebanese heritage is integral to the brand’s aesthetic. Please expand on its importance to your work.

My culture is a big part of who I am and a major influence on my designs. Growing up in Lebanon, I was surrounded by Lebanese culture and history, ancient traditions, sensual poetry, music and art, yet at the same time experiencing the interlaced impact of modern architecture, contemporary design and concepts, freshness and openness to introductions of Europe. This mix was and has been so inspiring, along with the “live life to the fullest” attitude that embodies the lives of the Lebanese people, which is another attitude to living and experience new and unexpected things. It’s motivating and the energy behind my designs as well as the inscriptions. This is embodied in the signature Le Icon Collection, where artisanal inscribed metals are set against modern luxury leathers to create a unique piece of art you can wear.

Describe your design process

I am always looking for new inspirations to expand and mould my brand aesthetic. As a designer, you have to continue to come up with new ideas and find new inspirations, to create drama and complexity throughout your designs. We are supposed to introduce beauty in a new way, in a way that people have not seen before. That is what I love to do. I am inspired through so many outlets; such as strong, independent, female style icons, my travels all around the world, the metropolitan lifestyle of NY, etc. It is not always at one time or place, it really does occur at the most random moments…I search for things that resonate with me (shapes, memories, colors), and those that stick with me somehow always tie back to my heritage because that’s what’s most instinctual. As I recording all these nuggets of inspiration, the design comes together in my head and I sketch away for hours sometimes… just watching the combination of the silhouette, the leather, the metal, the message and the creation blend together. It’s so satisfying!

What have been your personal highlights for the brand so far?

There are many challenging moments when starting your own business. But it is also those challenges, and getting over the bumps, that is so thrilling and keeps me going. Seeing the small wins, and then the bigger wins, and knowing it all stems from personal drive, hard work and passion, is incredibly motivating. Of course, being in our 5th season, distributed across 30 countries and carried by celebrities such as Eva Longoria, are all wins for the brand, but my personal highlights: I love my team… they make me want to wake up to their happy faces every morning. And importantly, there’s really nothing more I love than hearing, reading or seeing a smile from a customer who’s enjoyed one of my bags! It’s precious to know that I’ve touched their day in the smallest way and brought them “happiness” “laughter” or a smile, for which the world will smile back at them … as per my handbag inscriptions.

What are your future goals for the brand?

I would like to continue to evolve the line and bring our statement handbags to women across the world, making them feel chic, strong, deep and boldly beautiful! 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!

What tips do you have for any budding designers establishing their own brands?

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.

And finally which handbag is on your arm today and what’s in it?

The newest addition to our line, Le St. Tropez in Lavender, with its beautifully embossed Ostrich leather and signature gold hammered metal. I love this color. It’s a neutral but with a fresh hint of spring, and goes with absolutely everything! Today I’m wearing it as a shoulder bag, but later on I’ll tuck in the chain and use it as a clutch for dinner with the girls.
What’s in it? … My life, haha! My Blackberry (sorry no, not an iPhone!), wallet, makeup, keys, sketch book, sunglasses, receipts, gum, business cards, band aids, a little sunglass tool kit (!) … it just keeps getting more random. Most importantly, a picture of my baby girl Mila, who keeps me strong and positive & brings me happiness and good luck every day!

Many Thanks to Dareen and Katie!

(There’s free shipping on all on-line orders before 13th May!)

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