Exclusive: Young Fashion Designer Nadia Ellahi On Her Home Life And The Challenges Of Being A Working Mother
What does a normal day look like for you?
My everyday routine revolves around work and family. The day starts with dealing with orders, clients and other tasks at the office and late afternoons are reserved for my children. If I have any energy left by the evening, I like to hit the gym and unwind.
How important are family meals at your home? Describe a typical scene around the dining table.
Sitting down for meals together with the rest of the family is given a lot of importance at my house. I live with my in-laws and we all make it a point to have dinner together if everyone is home and free. However, Sunday lunches are probably the most important of all family meals! It gives my family and I, the opportunity to share our plans for the week ahead.
Do you collect art? What are some of the artists you have loved and collected over the years?
I’m a huge fan of art and all things beautiful, in general. I especially admire the work of artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso and Rembrandt.
Their larger than life paintings in castles and museums in Europe take my breath away every time I visit. Locally, I have great respect for Mashkoor’s work. I find his use of colours in an abstract fashion intriguing. Apart from him, I also find the work of Sadequain and Gulgee very captivating. Luckily for me, I share this love for art with my husband and credit for most the art pieces spread across our house goes to him. Some of our recent additions include beautiful paintings by Ayesha Siddiqui, Sadaf and Mashkoor.
What is your favourite form of entertainment in your home; music, movies or reading?
My husband and I love hosting casual dinners for our friends. For us, entertainment at home is best in the form of some fine music and good company in our study.
How do you unwind after a long day?
There is no better way to end a long tiring day than indulging in a delicious tub of Haagen Daz’s icecream in bed, wearing my PJ’s and watching movies or TV shows on Netflix. It is the perfect setting!
A lot of your time is spent in your office, were you particular about its interiors?
Yes, I was definitely very particular about the interiors of my office while setting it up and am very happy with how it has come together. I wanted to make sure each corner was reflective of my personality and the design philosophy of my fashion label. I’d say it’s an elegant and sophisticated space, with just the right amount of furniture and wall hangings. I also like to keep updating it, to keep the office interesting and consistently on trend.
When did you decide to become a fashion designer?
I’ve always enjoyed designing outfits for myself, most of which received a lot of compliments. The confidence to actually start designing for other people and turning it into a serious business, however, only came when close friends and family said it would be a great idea.. The first time I felt an
extraordinary sense of achievement and satisfaction was when I created an outfit for a friend at her persuasion. Despite my initial reluctance, the clothes turned out to be a hit. This encouraged me to hold my first exhibition in 2009. The event was a huge success and I haven’t looked back since.
If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
Pakistan is my homeland and I’m proud to be a Pakistani. I love my country and my city Karachi, where I have lived all my life. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, as there is no place like home.
How different is Nadia Ellahi, the fashion designer from Nadia Ellahi the homemaker?
Nadia Ellahi the fashion designer is very professional, dedicated and serious at work. I like punctuality, discipline and perfection in my business management. Nadia Ellahi the homemaker, on the other side, is very funloving, easy-going and relaxed.
What would you say is your favourite part of designing an outfit, along with your main influences?
The best part of designing is to see the finished product, especially when it turns out just as beautiful as I had envisioned it to be. I take inspiration from nature, architecture and my environment in general. For example, once I was sitting by the lake in Stockholm, sipping coffee while my kids were feeding the ducks. A lovely little bird caught my attention and I couldn’t help but marvel at the different colours God had so beautifully put together in her feathers. That image stayed in my head and inspired the colour palette of my next creation. It turned out to be exquisite.
Where do you see your brand in the next five years?
I plan on expanding my business massively in the next five years. I feel bridal couture is my forte and I want my brand to be every bride’s dream.
What are the challenges of being a working mother? How do you cope with them?
I am a very hands-on mother. My children and family are and will always be the top priority in my life. Being a working mother is definitely a challenge because both one’s roles require a lot of time and nurturing. I try to achieve a balance by being disciplined and I also focus on quality rather than the quantity of time spent with both; my kids and my business. I put in extra effort to organise my daily schedule so that it is in sync with the routine of my children.
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