Alia Khafaga, one of the most talked about jewelry designers in Egypt, spoke to eniGma’s Salma Hussein about how it all began. Khafaga, a graduate of Mass Communication at The American University in Cairo, is a self taught jewelry designer so it’s quite an achievement that her work is seen all over Egypt and is worn by celebrities including Haifa Wehbe, Amina Khalil, Reham Haggag, and Donia and Amy Samir Ghanem. Not only that, but her work is recognized abroad and it will soon be available in Los Angeles, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai.
Tell us about yourself and how you started your career in jewelry design.
Seven years ago, I started a small accessories business, but it didn’t work out. Then I took up painting and started painting modern and abstract pieces. After that I started an event planning business. During the entire time, I was an employee at the communications office at The American University in Cairo. Three years ago I started my jewelry line while I was still working, but later I quit in order to focus on my line. I taught myself jewelry design through a process of trial and error. To learn, I would visit stores, workshops, and ask people in the field.
How long did it take you to prepare your first collection?
It took me three months to prepare the launch of my line. I created a logo, a name, packaging, and had a photoshoot for my first collection. It was all very basic. The photographer was a friend, I knew the models, and we had their makeup done ourselves. I had the shoot at my house. Everything was at a very minimal cost. My first collection was sold out and I started working on the next one right away.
How do you believe jewelry adds to an outfit?
It depends on the style. When I started my line, my idea was to go for a plain t-shirt, jeans, heels, and a statement necklace that would add glam to your look. A statement piece of jewelry will always make your outfit stand out. There really aren’t rules, however. It all comes down to personal preference, but I believe jewelry makes your face glow.
Tell us about your latest collection.
We just finished shooting the fall collection and we are launching soon. It is similar to my previous work, but I always add a twist. The pieces are big, colourful, and they definitely make a statement. I always work in a different style and that makes my line unique.
What inspires your work?
Nature. I love flowers and most of my designs include floral shapes and motifs. Fabrics, like Elie Saab’s embroidery, inspire me too. I find inspiration everywhere; it merely depends on what you see.
Do you have any interesting stories behind your collections?
I was asked to design a red necklace for a gala dinner hosted by UNAids to raise awareness in Egypt.
What do you think of the design field in Egypt?
I think there is huge potential. Today there are more designers now, and that’s good because we are building the industry. Before, there were very few designers. The market is expanding.