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| by Diana Farid

A Chat with Layla Asgar About Fashion and Motherhood

Qatar-based designer Layla Asgar, is one of the renowned trendsetters in the market, ever since she introduced her brand Layla Asgar Fashion early in 2012. Layla is a mother, a wife and a business woman; whose life is a true inspiration for any woman striving to achieve success. I got the chance to have a chat with the inspiring designer, to shed some light on how the "mamapreneur" does it all.

You managed to be one of the shining names in Doha, tell us about your journey?
Thankfully, I did well in building my brand name over the past three years. It was never easy at the beginning, but when I started, I was full of hopes that people will like my work. I had so much and I wanted to convey a message through my work. The journey so far is thrilling and exciting, but very challenging. Being a wife, a mother for two kids and a business woman is not easy, sometimes I even question how am I doing all that myself, but hard work does pay off.

Seeing your latest collection, tell us from where do you get your inspiration?
It was a Resort collection, so the pieces ranged from relaxed day wear to a light coat for travel, bisht and few hijab appropriate pieces. It was inspired by the national gem of Qatar, "The Pearl," which is one of the loveliest tourist destinations in the gulf. Everything about "The Pearl" inspired me; I tried to replicate the beauty of the interiors and the exteriors in my collection. It affected the designs, the material, the fabric choice, even the overall look and feel was all to mesmerize the beauty of the place. That is why the collection had very nice rich silk material, a lot of details, handmade work, sequins and pearls.

When did your passion for design start?
It took me a long time before I could decide to start my brand. It was not a brief decision; there was a lot of contemplating and thinking involved. I had a passion for sketching since a young age, I went to classes to learn more, and check if this was the thing for me. One thing I was certain of, was how I felt great designing my own pieces, or for other friends or family members. I would say the first piece took six months to see the light. It was hard and memorable, because you have to source manpower, buy the right fabrics, and allocate resources so your sketch would come to life beautifully.

What is the best memorable moment in your career so far?
Well the journey is full of memorable ones, it is difficult to choose, but the first time I saw my sketch come to life was surely an amazing moment. I felt so proud during the photo-shoot, looking at the model wearing my piece. Also the first time I saw myself featured in a magazine was one of the moments I cherish till now.

You have lost 20 kilos, started adopting a healthy lifestyle which you are sharing with your fans; tell us more about the blog?
I found that many people who were following me for the fashion, also wanted to know what was I doing in my daily life, that is why I thought to start the blog. The main goal was to offer my fans with beneficial information, and give them helpful tips to make better life choices.

The reason why I lost all that weight, was because ever since I launched my last collection; I have been building myself and brand in a different way. I didn’t lose weight only to feel good, but also because my body was not functioning as good as I wanted it to be. I was living the fast paced life and pouring a lot of junk in it, but the more I did healthier choices, the better I felt about everything around me. If I am to describe the journey, it was a wealthy one, I came to know a lot of info that I had known nothing about and felt the urge to share it all.

Looking at your latest styling photo-shoots, what inspired you to do that?
It was an extension to my blog posts, where I decided to share things about recipes, health tips, food, and then I thought why not styling as well. I share these photos to encourage other women to do the same, and empower them to make them look and feel good. I also wanted to show that a woman can easily be stylish wearing a hijab, without the need to layer. Just by choosing the right style; she can be classy and modest.

You have your own label, styling business, the blog? What is next for Layla Asgar?
Build more on empowering women, expanding the blog, encouraging women to seek their potential through my posts, daily life experiences and videos. I will also release a branch sister business to the blog, named “In her Shoes.” I will feature a Snapchat of women's daily lives, to show how successful examples make it happen. I want to feature the ones who are keeping us alive and doing all the hard work in the series.

How do you find balance between your brand, blog and family?
It is never easy, but with the support of my family and setting my goals right, I have the guts to do it. Balance everything. Learn to say no, learn to do the things that are more urgent first. Sometimes it can get really messy, but you pick yourself up and go and enjoy the parts of the journey that are worth enjoying and inspire others.

A motivational quote you believe in?
"One woman's success is an inspiration to the other." - Diane von Fürstenberg

What is the one piece of advice you can give to people starting up their business?
You will need to exert a lot of effort at the beginning, and you will need a lot of guidance. You will have so many questions, and you'll need to find the answers yourself. Hang in there, and if you have determination, you are going to make it through, no matter how challenging it may seem.

Tags: Layla asgar  Fashion designers  Arab fashion  Arab fashion designers  Diana farid  Guest writers  Interviews  Women  Arab women  Inspiring women  Qatar  Qatar fashion