Startup of the Week: Jilbab_NR: Putting a creative twist on the bisht

1 / 2
Jilbab_NR’s signature Ramadan 2019 collection. (Courtesy Jilbab_NR Instagram)
2 / 2
Jilbab_NR’s signature Ramadan 2019 collection. (Courtesy Jilbab_NR Instagram)
Updated 16 April 2019
0

Startup of the Week: Jilbab_NR: Putting a creative twist on the bisht

RIYADH: The bisht is traditionally donned by Saudi men, a long cloak worn over thobes that is usually made of wool and available in neutral colors. But three Saudi women are putting a twist on the bisht by feminizing it and dialing up the glamor.

Jilbab_NR was founded in 2010 by sisters Nejoud and Nouf Sharbatly and their friend Rehab Mirdad. Together they combined their ideas and love for traditional Saudi garments and embarked on a cultural fashion journey. Their first collection? The bisht-abaya. They began with gold and silver embroidery on black fabric, later branching out into bolder colors and designs.

The business is based in Jeddah and has a thriving clientele base across Saudi Arabia, Nouf said. There may not be a store but they always showcase their latest collection on Instagram and in bazaars.

Their Instagram account has more than 35,000 followers and features distinctive garments for different tastes — pastels, pinstripes, and prints, belted, embroidered, zipped and floral.

“We are blessed to have beautiful and loyal customers that always give us their positive feedback and make us design the best for them,” Nouf told Arab News. They constantly seek the latest trends and styles for their clients “but with a jilbab fingerprint on it.”

The trio have created the royal bisht, which is a lush abaya, their signature bisht-abaya, which has the look and feel of an abaya but with the embroidery of a bisht, and the vest-bisht, which is sleeveless and made of sheer material and can be thrown over jeans and a top for a casual but elegant look.

The bishts come in different colors, from Tiffany & Co.’s signature duck-egg blue to maroon and black. The spectrum is one of the things that sets them apart from other brands, which have begun copying the trios’ style.

“Alhamdulillah, the jilbab has been in the Saudi market now for nine years. It is known and recognized from its design and styles that you cannot miss, no matter how many copies we see in the market. That’s normal and it makes us happy and proud because that’s the sign of success,” said Nouf.

Since then Jilbab_NR has expanded and created different abayas and jalabiyas. One of its more exquisite pieces is the Goyard abaya, which is beaded by hand and named after the French label. “We don’t have time to do a proper photo shoot, because whenever we post a picture on Instagram the abayas or thobes sell out.”

Jilbab_NR’s latest collection will be for Ramadan. Nouf said they were special and colorful abayas and jalabiyas with the holy month’s “vibes, spirit and style on them.”

Find them on Instagram: Jilbab_NR


Startup of the Week: Coco Sabon’s natural skincare

Coco Sabon. (Supplied)
Updated 21 May 2019
0

Startup of the Week: Coco Sabon’s natural skincare

  • Coco Sabon’s customers are mostly Arab women aged between 20 and 40, “though we have many loyal fans that span different age groups and come from all over the world”

RIYADH: The healing and relaxing powers of nature are at the heart of Coco Sabon’s philosophy.
Launched by Dr. Cynthia Mosher — an American living in Riyadh — the skincare firm is committed to sourcing high-quality, natural oriental ingredients that provide the skin with gentle care and nourishment.
“I launched Coco Sabon in November 2015 at Alfaisal University’s first bazaar,” she said.
Mosher, who completed a bachelor of science in natural health sciences, said she hoped to do something more than simply diagnose illnesses and prescribe treatments. She also wanted to have time for other important things and people, so now she is working as an educator, training a new generation of medical students.
She encourages people to make healthy choices when it comes to ingredients they use on their bodies.
“I fell in love with formulating and creating beautiful, natural skincare products. I continued my creative journey while pursuing my medical degree, which deepened my commitment to develop ‘do no harm’ skincare based on natural ingredients,” she said.
“Layered with my admiration of Arabian culture, the rich regional ingredients, and my passion for integrative medicine, I developed a deep sense of holistic self-care that guides my formulations. My love for the fragrances, natural remedies and skincare routines of the Middle East are the heart and soul of Coco Sabon.”
There is a growing demand for Coco Sabon products. “After years of requests from family and friends to make and sell my products, I tested the waters, so to speak. We sold out of everything that day.”
She added: “About six weeks later we were invited to participate at the Gathering in Al-Bujairi in January 2016. We had a crowd of customers nonstop for three days and again sold out of everything. It was a decisive weekend. Coco Sabon was born and we have not looked back since.”
Mosher’s family and friends offered encouragement, but one of her strongest supporters was her best friend, Audrey Wilkinson. She said: “Audrey was my supporter, helper and adviser. She now works with me, formulating and producing our candles, cremes and face care line.”
Coco Sabon’s customers are mostly Arab women aged between 20 and 40, “though we have many loyal fans that span different age groups and come from all over the world.”
The brand offers a wide range of products, including soap, bath bombs, scrubs, cremes, face and body oils, perfumes and candles.
“Everything is produced by hand in small batches here in Riyadh using natural, safe and organic ingredients, sourced locally wherever possible,” Mosher said.
Coco Sabon believes in supporting local businesses and in sourcing the best ingredients possible. The store also designs its packaging and hand packages, labels and wraps each item, selling through an online store (cocosabon.com), Instagram, WhatsApp, and local popup shop events.
Mosher has also started offering workshops on making her products.
“Some might think that to be unwise because I could very well teach a future competitor,” she said. “Well, that’s true for the medical students I teach now. Should I withhold my knowledge for fear of them becoming better doctors and doing better? Of course not. The more knowledge we put out there, the better our society will be. The workshops also help build community.
“I connect with people who are curious, who want to learn how to create and how to make good choices for their health. I welcome workshop students young and older (my youngest so far was just 6 years old), and I encourage them to take what they learn and use it to improve their lives and that of others around them. If they make a business out of doing so, then good for them. We all have something to offer the world,” she said.
Mosher is happy that she created a job she loves. “Sometimes I miss practicing clinical medicine, but I remind myself that I am helping people make healthier choices for their bodies, their minds, their souls and the planet,” she said.
“That’s a special kind of medicine that I believe can help heal the world.”