A Nottinghamshire entrepreneur, frustrated by the lack of suitable office wear for Muslim women, hopes to ‘empower’ and ‘inspire’ with a range of modest clothing and luxury hijabs. Roda Abdi, and her company Amirab Ltd, bring Muslim principles into fashion – allowing the wearer to feel confident, whilst incorporating designs in keeping with their beliefs.
Fuelled by her struggle to find clothes that were both modest and fashionable, Roda set up her clothing business at The Hive – Nottingham Trent University’s centre for enterprise and entrepreneurship.
The 31 year old accountant, originally from Somalia but now a resident of Nottingham for 11 years, created a range of hijabs, dresses and jumpsuits, focusing on designs that weren’t too low cut or sheer and using bright colours that challenged perceptions of stereotypical Muslim clothing.
“Like many other Muslim women, I found it difficult to find clothes that had the right coverage, but also made me feel confident – most fashion isn’t suitable and I had to layer up to get the modesty I needed.
“Muslim clothes can be very plain which can affect your confidence, and doesn’t help you stand out in a competitive office. I wanted to create something that was beautiful and eye-catching, whilst not compromising the principles Muslim women live by.”
Designing the range herself using textiles from the UK and Europe, the products are manufactured in Portugal at the same factory used by luxury brands including Victoria Beckham and Orla Kiely. Her collection, CONFIDENCE, recently made its debut at the Heya Arabia Fashion Exhibition in Qatar, where it was showcased on the catwalk and seen by key people from the fashion industry.
Roda said: “Showcasing my clothes with other high quality brands in front of many fashion experts was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I learned a lot about the industry and how I can compete in markets like the Middle East as well as the UK.
“The fashion market is highly competitive, so it’s not going to be an easy ride on this journey, but I’m determined that Amirab can offer something to women that is different and will make them feel empowered.”
Using advice from The Hive and knowledge gained from an Executive MBA at NTU’s Nottingham Business School, Roda is aiming to grow the brand by sending samples to well-known Muslims.
Chris Hall, Business Manager at The Hive, said: “Roda has turned her frustrations into a business she is passionate about. She has spotted a gap in the market with her luxury office wear, and has been taking advice on how to distribute her clothing designs to a wider market.”
She is currently in talks with buyers and eventually hopes that her designed will be stocked in high-end London stores, such as Harrods.