There is more to what meets the eye, goes the saying. This is true when it comes to modeling, the Muslim woman and in the case for WWAGS; UK’s 1st Muslim woman modeling agency. WWAGS is a creative company established in 2010 by CEO and founder Halima Umm Zackariya. Its founder’s background experience includes six years in the merchandising and styling industry with recognized stores such as the British multinational retailer Marks and Spencer. WWAGS has two main purposes; specialized assistance with visual merchandising, styling, Point of Sale and photography for businesses and it serves as a modeling agency with an image therapy project option in partnership with the Women’s Consortium, a counseling therapy charity organization based in London. WWAGS offers various types of modeling such as fashion/catwalk, commercial, catalog, petite, plus size and classic. We went behind the scenes of WWAGS with its founder Halima Umm Zackariya to find out more about her and WWAGS dual initiative.
When did your interest in fashion and styling begin?
“My interest in fashion and styling started at a relatively young age. I always found it hard to express myself in school due to learning difficulties and was always better in art and design. My creative side beckoned to me from a very young age so I found being very creative with everything my life revolved around. I clearly recall and it’s funny as I recollect when I enrolled at the college for my design course, it was literally 3 days before the deadline for the course. I had no idea what I was getting myself into nevertheless I decided to go out on a limb and enroll. Lo and behold it was based around clothes, style, design and point of sale. It was amazing best hasty decision I made ever and my style has been evolving since then.”
Brief us on the name meaning of WWAGS.
“Quite amusing but it was late at night and I was exasperated at the sheer and obvious need that I really did need to set something up for women in need. We actually started with wwags.org which an organisation in helping women to build confidence with the different services we provide. Its original meaning is ‘Women Worshipping Allah, Group Support’. I don’t know if you guys have ever come across the term ‘WAG’. In England footballers wives are known as WAGS (Wives and girlfriends) and I always found the term wags funny. I wanted a name that would trigger people’s thoughts and then change their mindset to what we do. So capturing the mind as they say! WWAGS.com stands for Women with Amazing Grande Style.”
How do businesses benefit from WWAGS?
“We enjoy supporting businesses through our shoots and marketing. We work mainly with new businesses or businesses that need marketing boosts, so we do photo shoots and visual marketing for them to help with promotion and increase sales and gain more recognition. With the phenomenal rise of Abaya/hijab companies, it’s important to keep your company looking fresh and attractive so WWAGS ctually helps businesses achieve this effectively.”
What is visual merchandising?
“Visual merchandising is promoting products through presentation. This usually takes place at retail outlets through window presentation, dressing mannequins and shop interior presentation. Again it is a way to help the company understand how to show their goods in their best light and a way of the customers finding their store attractive and appealing.
Why is it important for businesses to make room for visual merchandising in their business planning?
“Visual merchandising is the final stages in setting the store out to be most attractive and helpful for customers. It is important is it involves creating displays, colour, lighting, space, product information and anything that will help the customers find it easy to shop and feel comfortable.”
Are there some labels and/or boutiques you would like to work with?
“I have to be honest, I love working with new companies. It’s very exciting to discuss new concepts and shoots. Most new companies have a clean white canvas for us to come in and fill. It’s also very rewarding to see that we have helped with first photo shoots and boost in sales! In terms of working with well established companies, first choice would be DAS from Emirates as their style and work is amazing, would definitely be awesome opportunity to shoot with DAS and also Barjis, I was at the London Fashion week show and her collection is different and very creative MashaAllah.”
Stay tuned next week for Part II as we discuss with founder of WWAGS, Halima Umm Zackariya the modeling aspect and what it takes to be a Muslim woman model. Visit WWAGS at www.wwags.com