August 07, 2014 12:00 AM | by Diana Farid
Getting to Know Razan Suliman
Razan Suliman is the mind behind Fanilla Couture, a contemporary t-shirt label that's inspired by the Arabic culture. Read along to find out how it all started and how Razan Suliman makes it through the business world as a woman.
My name is Razan Suliman and I am a Saudi self-taught graphic designer based in Doha; founder and owner of my own t-shirt label "Fanilla Couture." I am a fashion lover who appreciates the Gulf culture. I design for the woman who cherishes the Arab culture and wants to stick to it while looking trendy and stylish, that is why I strive to include cultural elements in all my designs with a hint of fashion. Despite having studied information technology, my passion for graphic design made me consider a total career shift one day when I began to appreciate the look and feel of everything around me.
What inspired you to be the person you are today?
I consider myself to be a romantic person who gets easily inspired by every single small detail around me. I always had a flare for fashion and drawing since I was really young, that my dad used to hang my drawings and tell me I will be a real success in the creative industry when I grow up. I guess this was the first sign of my love for designing. Later when I worked with web development, I found myself more attracted to the look and feel of the website rather than its development, so I felt that is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
That is my favorite quote about success: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” ― Maya Angelou
What's your take on the fashion scene in the Gulf region?
I am proud to see all these emerging uprising designers in the Gulf recently, it creates a very healthy competition which fuels inspiration and encourages us to offer our best work. However, it is getting more challenging for any new designer to consider competition since they really have to be talented and offer something new to break the clutter.
Did you face any struggles being a one woman show in the business world?
My graphic design journey was never a smooth one, because I carved my way into the design world by doing endless research to teach myself. I spent a lot of nights reading and trying to learn all the tricks and take my passion to professionalism. Although this was challenging at the beginning, I guess it was worth it. Generally being a one woman show, my ultimate challenge is finding time to manage it all by myself. I have my own job in addition to being the owner of BYLENS, the first Qatari stock photography library so it gets crazy sometimes but I am loving it.
Best advice ever given to you...
It is ok to be frustrated and to get down sometimes as long as you will stand up tomorrow and have a fresh start. It is normal to get bogged down, but it gets dangerous only if we let go to this negative energy.
What motivates you?
Lots of things but the aspiration of being a successful international fashion designer always gets me moving, also the positive reactions I get with every collection I launch give me the push and will to want to do more.
Three random things about yourself...
I love cooking, enjoy shopping and traveling.
What's your inspiration process when designing?
Being in the creative industry puts endless challenges on me; because I need to be inspired regardless of any pressures. I consider my inspiration process to be challenging yet a rewarding one. I try to make use of whatever small inspiring things I see in life to incorporate in my design, ending by a story behind each t-shirt and collection. But somehow the Arabic gulf culture is my main area of focus, that is why you will see many Arabian icons, elements and animals in my t-shirts.
What sets the latest collection apart?
Getting started on every collection for me is an enjoyable journey rather than a process. Through all my collections, my goal is to help ladies wearing Fanilla Couture stick to their culture yet look trendy and stylish. My latest collection was launched in Ramadan, and I wanted it to be so Arabic looking, flooding with our rich culture icons like the face mask, Arabian animals, Arabic text and calligraphy and so on. I designed it to reflect Arabic culture in a modern chic sort of fashion; a reason why I used a mix of jazzy colors, fresh designs, hints of Arabic building a story behind every t-shirt’s design.
You'll know you've made it when...
My ultimate dream for Fanilla Couture is to walk one day down a street in a European or western country and find someone wearing my t-shirts.
Where do you want to see Fanilla Couture in five years?
To see Fanilla Couture go international, it would really be delightful to see an American or a European wearing something that reflects the Arabic culture and heritage. It is sad how Arabs always wear what reflects western culture and barely reflect their own. It would be rewarding to see Fanilla Couture revive the Arabic culture, not only across the Gulf but also abroad. I want it to be that brand that encourages westerners to wear what reflects our own culture.