Colorful intricate scarves. Curated from local Bahraini artists. Who’d turn away from such a view? We for sure wouldn’t.
We’re referring to Annada’s elegant line of the vibrant, silky smooth scarves, abayas, bracelets and more. As such, we decided to sit down with Bahraini female founder Nada Alawi to know the interesting bits and pieces of her business and why she launched it.
What was your inspiration behind starting Annada?
I don’t know if enough people know this story but I used to work in the oil and gas industry at first. I realized that I needed a real hobby, so I started painting with one of Bahrain’s renowned artists and just being exposed to art gave me happiness, joy and pure pleasure. After some time, I felt that its selfish not to share this art with the world, that feeling was the first seed for creating Annada. If you asked my sister and co-founder Noor, she would share a different story.
When we were in the South of France we went to the Picasso Museum and I wanted to leave with something from that museum, so, I bought a scarf with a Picasso artwork; as much as the scarf was pretty but it wasn’t the exact artwork that I wanted but it’s also another seed which contributed to our vision. Sometimes your experience in life gives you different things; whatever your exposed to you get some residue. It’s like a token that you file, any conversation that you have or a discussion I usually take tokens and file them in my head.
One summer day, while I was at the office, I got an invitation to go to China. Hearing the word China ignited silk in my thoughts, and I have always been obsessed with Hermes and squares scarfs. The idea of a square reminded me of a painting in a canvas and from all these inputs or “tokens”, I got a light bulb moment where it occurred to me that I can actually put artwork on square silks to make scarves! So like an earthquake, the idea was born and that is how Annada started.
Eventually, I told my sister Noor the idea and she loved it and wanted to be part of it, so I asked her to be my partner. Through this Idea I wanted to tell stories, I felt as a culture our stories are not communicated as much and I felt that Annada could take that roll. I was reading “one thousand and one nights” at the same time; it has many stories in one and we actually used some stories in our scarfs.
What does art mean to Annada?
To Annada, Art means joy and happiness; I feel that my purpose in life is to make other people’s life beautiful simply by exposing them to art and making them live in it. I think when you look at a piece of art it makes you happy and gives you a good feeling; it makes me want to do good.
Why did Annada choose to collaborate with specific style of artists?
We do try some different mediums and styles of art; our artworks include impressionism cubism, calligraphy, Islamic art and more. Interestingly, I can say that the art piece “picked us and spoke to us”. A lot of people are curious of how we select our art and why do we choose a certain artwork; there are many reasons for an artwork to actually reach the point of being part of our collection. Firstly, does it work with the current fashion and the mood of people? We think about the artwork and its beauty itself when you put it onto the product because sometimes the art tells us “please take me” and sometimes we would love to but we can’t use it; the reality is very different when we actually try to apply it to a product.
How do you pick where the art pieces go?
We start with as many as 80 artworks sometimes and we keep narrowing them down, we do this procedure almost seven times. Even when we produce a sample collection there are artworks that will not make it, we have to let go of an artwork that is so beautiful in this coming collection because we need to take into consideration the display of the artwork in the store how it works with other artworks.
Do you consider going back to an artwork that you declined?
Yes we do that, if the artwork didn’t go into the collection we look back at what we declined but not because we didn’t like it, we declined it for business reasons and to balance the collection. Sometimes you got to sacrifice some things in order for the greater good, but then you can take what you sacrificed and think about it in the future.
What is Annada’s vision for the world of art?
We want to be a global company all around the world; we want Annada to impact people in a positive way we want them to feel good and happy when they use our product. At the end, we want to transfer our feelings to them and that’s a big job but we’re going to do it.
How Does Annada plan on highlighting the artist or their artwork in the future?
When the artists collaborate with us, we consider them as a part of Annada. Also, for the future of Annada we want to keep on receiving artwork that people want to see; we always listen when people refer artists to us. We work to communicate the artist’s story behind their beautiful artwork to the world. Once an artist joins Annada, they become part of Annada family.