Whether in a mall or in a soiree ball, a piece of Alia Khafaga’s bling is quite unmistakable for its exquisitely carved crystals and capturing colours. Khafaga is a local designer who has added so much value to jewellery in the past three years.
From celebrity placement to bridal glamour, the young designer has managed to prove that everyone can attain innovation and fashion through her hand-painted jewellery.
In celebration of the designer’s third anniversary, Daily News Egypt met with Khafaga to know more about her style, materials and most importantly her views on the industry’s recent evolution.
How did you start your career as a jewellery designer?
I started my jewellery line because it was my true passion; something that I deeply wanted to do. I begin with designing pieces for myself; mainly things that I could not find in the market. When people saw my pieces, they asked me about them and wondered why I did not sell them.
Accordingly, I started designing jewellery in my spare time along with my full-time job at the media and communications office of the American University in Cairo (AUC). I started preparing my first collection in July 2012 and launched in October 2012.This jewellery line was not my first project. I had different previous experiences.
I wanted everything to be very professional ever since the launch; therefore, I designed my own packaging and launched the first collection with a professional photo shoot. With that being said, everything started with a minimal budget.
The feedback was great; I received several calls from a few publications that wanted to feature my line only one month after the launch. A few months later, stylists started contacting me. Honestly, it all worked smoothly; I was so lucky.
How would you define your style?
It is fresh, young, trendy, and colourful. All of my pieces are clear statements; they are big and colourful. The whole idea started because I wanted to create statement pieces that could be added to a plain t-shirt and jeans in order to transform the whole look. I always imagine my pieces on plain white tops and jeans.
I love my pieces to be the unique factor that could be added to any given outfit in order to make it stand out. However, many clients have taken my designs in the complete opposite direction; surprisingly, I currently receive bridal orders.
What are your key materials?
Nothing precious. All stones used are hand-painted. The value lays in being handmade; the design is sketched by me. The crystals are hand-coloured and then the stones are assembled manually in order to be an exact mirror of the initial sketch.
I do not use precious stones because the core of my designs is statement and if I use them the end price would be unaffordable and the market would not tolerate it.
Your line has been the choice of many celebrates. How did you manage to position yourself as the stars’ ultimate choice?
Along the way, the brand reached a solid base of celebrities. All the A-list stars that have worn my designs found me either through a common friend or very organically on Instagram. Meanwhile, stylists have put me in contact with multiple celebrities; either way, I have never pitched my designs to any celebrity.
During the past three years bloggers have emerged on the fashion scene and come to dominate quite a large share of it; among bloggers, media and celebrities, who reflected best on your brand?
Definitely celebrities. I have never dressed a blogger for free; I was very lucky that they are all my clients and maybe that is why I do not post a lot about them. I personally do not believe in paying for coverage whether from a blogger or a publication; that is maybe something that I learned from my previous job. I used to work in the media relations department in the university; one of the key things that I have learned is that it is totally unacceptable to pay people for coverage.
Why have not you participated in any fashion show so far?
Fashion shows in Egypt are quite expensive and they still do not generate sufficient feedback; it is more about social image rather than sales or exposure. In fashion, it could be effective; but, in jewellery it is not as beneficial as a simple launch event.
What are the most transformational milestones that the line has accomplished?
Celebrities were definitely a major milestone because people love to see what the superstars wear and then take their lead. Haifa Wahby was a milestone; also, Donia Samir Ghanem chose few of my designs in the TV hit,” X Factor Arabia”. Furthermore, Amina Khalil regularly wears my designs and she is extremely popular. Generally, celebrities help elevate any brand to a much higher status.
Furthermore, the award was an additional milestone. Last February I received the award for best jewellery designer in Egypt. It was absolutely unexpected. It never occurred to me when I chose this career that I would receive an award because we did not use to have any fashion-oriented awards or ceremonies. The award meant so much to me especially because all the nominees were respectable jewellery designers and not mere makers.
How has the fashion and jewellery scene change over the past three years?
Everyone is a designer now. Fashion and jewellery design are a new market in Egypt; therefore, this is the time when everyone is most excited and willing to express all of their ideas. After a while, only those who truly standout, those who have unique ideas to offer and are not copying others, will last.
Meanwhile, the industry is currently overwhelmed with people that are not even creative designers.
Nonetheless, competition is a healthy factor that encourage you to do more and be more creative; which is good because at the end of the day it shall reflect on your business. When I first started there were hardly any competitors. Therefore, I used to write down my ideas and implement them one by one. Now I just implement any new idea instantly because I want to be one step ahead of the market.