Interview by Halimat Shode
The Black Muslim Times UK were privileged enough to speak with fashion designer Deeqa Raandhe, of Somali background, who has recently launched her own fashion line Deespresence. We talked motivations, advice to aspiring designers, and much more !
AsalamuAlaikum sister thanks so much for speaking with us! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name’s DeeQa Raandhe and I’m currently living in Leicester in the United Kingdom. Prior to the UK I lived in Holland where I grew up in a small village named Leusden (doubt you’ve heard of it!). I’ve been working at a college in their Student Services Department which is a job I enjoy, however, my dream is to work for myself full-time.
What inspired you to create your clothing line DeesPresence?
I’ve always had a love for fashion, modest fashion in particular. I’m very ambitious and I always dreamt of having a successful clothing line. Dreaming is easy; making it a reality is hard. I first learned how to sew and started a fashion blog where I would show off the pieces I designed, and share it on social media. The feedback I got from my posts was overwhelmingly positive. Much to my surprise there was actual interest in the clothing I produced and people were interested in purchasing them. After blogging my style and designs for 2 years I felt brave enough to start working on my first collection. It’s what I always wanted to do but my followers gave me the push I needed.
Aside for my love of Fashion, I wanted to start a business so that I can have a second income to support my family, my mother in particular. She has raised 7 kids on her own and I finally want to give her the life she deserves. So I’m doing this for her.
Did you have support for your vision?
The only support I received was moral support and encouragement from my family and friends which I received plenty of. However, it’s not in my nature to ask people for help. So I didn’t get any outside support at all. I put my trust in Allah and made a lot of du’a to make my endeavour a successful one. My Allah has facilitated me in every possible way alhamdulilah. I did however get help from my sister and nephew when it comes to photography as they’re far better at it than me!
What obstacles did you face setting it up, and have you overcome them?
The only obstacle I faced regarding my clothing line was finding the right suppliers for the hijabs, fabric and tailors who could work based on my samples. I flew out to Dubai on a mission to find these 3 things and I was expecting them to fall in my lap upon arrival. I was so mistaken! I looked within Dubai everyday for 2 weeks until one day I gave up and travelled to Abu Dhabi where after much searching I had found the right people to recreate my samples.
After that I went back to Dubai and got to know the market and things fell into place. I found places that had great fabric and hijabs. I overcame this particular problem because I didn’t have a choice to go back home to the UK empty handed. I had to find what I came for and I’m glad I did. Another huge obstacle was that the dressmakers can’t work based on sketches as they don’t speak any English. I have to make a sample for them first and then they understand what I want my product to look like.
Where do you see your clothing line in the next five years?
Insha’Allah in 5 years time I plan to still be selling the classic dresses, skirts, abayas and hijabs. I would also love to expand my brand to include occasion wear such as sequin gowns and lace skirts and traditional African clothing.
I would love to see my clothes being sold in different countries. I hope to be wholesaling by that time and plan to have my own shop in Dubai and UK as well as selling on-line.
Do you have advice for sisters looking to start their own fashion label/brand?
Firstly, do not rush into anything before you’re ready. Take your time and do your homework. Learn about marketing, how you can develop an on-line presence for your business, build relationships with bloggers, learn about photography, and most importantly learn how to sell.
Secondly, think about if this is for you and test the market first. I’ve tested the market by creating a mini collection consisting of a small number of dresses and skirts. I won’t say it went perfectly because I had no knowledge of how to sell things on-line but the main thing was I sold everything in my collection. This test run gave me the confidence I needed to start my clothing line and learn about doing things in a more professional manner.
Lastly, don’t doubt yourself after you’ve decided to go for it. Have trust in Allah, if it’s a halal business you’re planning to run He will aid you every step of the way.
Where can we find your clothing line?
My clothing line can be found at http://www.deespresence.com
Where can we follow you on social media?
I have a Facebook page called Deespresence and an Instagram account @deespresence I also have a personal Instagram account @queen___d
(pictures courtesy of Deeqa Raandhe, from the DeesPresence collection)