Our interview started on a call between New York and Sweden. Behind the other line were the young ladies behind the Swedish label Kenana. They were Sammha Ahmed and Nea Hassen. What really intrigued us to get to know them closer? Well, it was quite easy. We are attracted to initiative! Kenana has that and more. It is not just another clothing label, it is a movement; Sammah and Nea are out to contribute their change from the core. Our phone conversation definitely gave us an insight into their strong defying personalities; an ingredient needed in change.
What exactly is Kenana trying to contribute towards? Well, for one, it is diversity and create collections based on the voices from women around the world. Their goals are to create a platform for all types of women; size and cultural background but within the wide spectrum of modesty.
"Kenana is created to serve these underrepresented people by giving them their fashion needs and satisfy their spiritual and stylistic requirements."
Our phone conversation was just the beginning of getting to know about their work and a bit of their personal side. More came in our series of questions. We introduce to you Sam and Nea; two good friends whose friendship started in high school along with the Kenana concept.
The concept of Kanana started with Sam in high school and her intention to create a label that would appeal to all women. Forwarding years later. Nea is in the Chiropractor field and Sam in the Interior Design industry with other studies in her background such as fashion design. Their movement went live through a public surprising Flash fashion show at Kungsträdgården Stockholm, Sweden. A show that was video documented and that caught the facial reactions for the people in the public as the models made their way to the public area of the show.
What new things have you ladies discovered about yourselves since Kenana started?
"That out friendship is like a marriage! Haha. When we started out, we were attending university in two different countries, but had Skype dates twice a week. Once we both moved back to Stockholm, we met several times a week and called each other everyday; we knew each others schedules to the teeth. All work! But we had and still have a blast doing this, we learned pretty much everything about each other. Professionally this has taught us not only to utilize each other's strengths but also understand each other's weaknesses and how to work with them. Nea has a very strong sense for style and is a gallant speaker, while Sammha has an entrepreneurial and design mindset. On many levels we very different and think differently, but it has taught us to constantly discuss and compromise! As a team there is no I."
Describe each other’s style.
Sam: "Nea has a bold chic style, as I like to call it. She has as long as I have known her always been the color bomb. We used to call her the "rainbow girl" in high school. She loved mixing colors and patterns with a smile. Today her style has matured but staying true to her color schemes. "
Nea: "Sam has a classic feminine style, quite romantic yet still edgy. She has a very inviting style, but also very profound in her mystery"
What’s one advise for the woman out there insecure about herself trying to fit-in to the ‘main stream’ model of what a beautiful woman should look like?
Beauty is such a multifaceted term. It is not only in the eyes of the beholder but beauty is more of the person behind the body and clothes. It is what the person will express through her being. And you as a being is always unique regardless and upholding, treasuring, loving and nourishing that is the most healthy and beautiful part of a person. Main stream is not the main road and most defiantly not the path for everyone to take, people need to take different paths to meet somewhere or we will just pass each other on this straight road. "Main stream" industry was created by a group of people/brands that decided that "this is the trend", and kept doing that. Kenana wishes to create garments the women ask to wear to make them feel confident and beautiful, rather than being told what to wear.
Tell us a bit about the concept and fabric chosen for your upcoming collection.
"For the coming collection we are going for a more earthy color scheme, think the rainbow colors during a sunset, the flowiness of a summer breeze mixed with bold prints. We will be revealing more details starting this year and we would like to take this opportunity and ask all beautiful women to help us create our next collection. As we said, Kenana is a movement and not about us telling others what to wear. Kenana launched a whip-around, where we wish that women all over send us pictures on their favorite outfit (you could be wearing it, hanging on the rack, or a sketch). We all have this one or two pieces of clothing that we are totally abusing and if we found it again, we would buy it again and again! So snap a shot and hashtag #tagforkenana for a chance of your style to be designed by Kenana. We will be sharing our process starting January 2014 on our website, Instagram and Facebook, till the big day, follow us there for more inside info and follow-ups!"
What inspires you ladies every morning?
"Every morning we wake up just thanking God to live another day. We understand and are thankful for the opportunities that we get every day; cherishing the little things keeps you humble to life. We feel we have a responsibility as women, to support each other to build our confidence no matter spirituality, religious, personal preferences and body figure."
How do you guys blend both of your personal inspirations into one design or do you each design a whole garment individually?
"We usually start brainstorming together. We then sketch separately and get together on the due date to present the ideas for each other. Once that is done, we sort them into three groups; potential, forget it and yes. Once we have a first draft ready will we share some of the sketches on Instagram and Facebook for feedback. We also have an annual event called Kenana vision night, where we invite potential customers (in all ages and professional backgrounds) and people we might see future collaboration with. We have a relaxed dinner with prepared discussions points, some fun activities and VIP sneak peak at the coming collection for feedback."
How have the people of Sweden reacted to Kenana and its movement?
"People have reacted positively to Kenana and also skeptically, which is normal of course when something new is seen on the horizon. But we have been very lucky to have been surrounded with friends and family who have supported us a lot the past years. We couldn't have done our Flash Fashion Show this summer if it hadn't been for all the people involved, everything from music, makeup to the photography. Thank you all. We have realized with time though that our message isn't the easiest to communicate as some people are lost in translations. People don't understand what a "fashion movement" is and what we expect their role to be, which we now understand is a challenge for us to communicate clearly. We are still pretty much in the starting phase and haven't been able to reach to as many people as we wish for objective feedback. But, the people we have been in touch with, everything from students, parents to business owners have been very positive to the idea, especially the fact that we are involving the women in the establishment of the movement rather than seeing it as a "classical business", we are what is called a social entrepreneurship."
For more on Kenana, please visit them at www.kenanadesign.com