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This Egyptian Designer is Proving That Achieving Your Dream is All About Grit

Success isn't always about a world class education. Sometimes all it takes is a little patience, a little talent and a whole lot of grit.

Most of us, at some point have had an idea of what we want our future to look like. Perhaps we wanted to be astronauts, or painters? Perhaps we had a flair for fashion or dreams of becoming novelists and poets. More often than not though, our visions are altered to fit what we deem realistic in terms of execution; that means the finances, the time and whether or not we manage to get into that internationally accredited top fashion school in Paris. And when we fail, we decide that our dreams aren't achievable placing excuses on not having attended the right university or not having enough time to get into whatever it is we're passionate about. Self-taught designer Waad El Nizamy didn't see it that way though and she persevered for three years until she reached her goal. 

Once she decided to start her own line of pure Egyptian leather bags, wallets and home accessories, Nizamy taught herself all the basics. An arts graduate from Helwan University, the young craftswomen found her inspiration in one specific course that she took during her time in college. From then on, there was no stopping her.  

"I was enrolled in a course that taught us how to make leather and for my capstone project, I was required to design a bag. The professor was impressed with my design because I used a technique that was completely new, or rather he was impressed by the way in which I repurposed an old technique.” Says Nizamy. "He also appreciated the way I mixed the old with the new, the traditional with the modern. While most of my classmates had the very typical inspirations reminiscent of cliche Egyptian culture like pharaonic and Islamic motifs, I used Nubian and Egyptian countryside patterns mixed with modern elements and added copper to the bag.” 

For Nizamy, that capstone project is what set her on the path to becoming a designer. She'd fallen in love with creating accessories out of leather, which is one of the harder materials in terms of hand-stitching. Once her goal was set, the talent Egyptian enrolled in a course; that unfortunately didn't end up benefitting her much. She didn't give up though and instead taught herself by watching youtube tutorials and online videos. While Nizamy has been at it for three years, it was only last year that she actually launched her line; once she'd completely perfected the stitching techniques and embroidery methods. 

"I learnt through trial and error. The way I design my stuff is different in that it's embroidery on leather which isn't that widespread. Initially the process of starting up the line was slow because I was a full time graphic designer and I was teaching myself how to do everything. Once I realised that I couldn't balance a full time job with starting up my own thing, I switched to part time and steadily my client base increased," explains the self-taught designer. 

Finding inspiration in Nubian culture, Nizamy uses genuine Egyptian leather and handles the creation process from beginning to end. Adding beads and whatever elements she deems fitting, the secret behind the popularity of her leather product is in the intricate stitching and oriental motifs. 

"I do everything myself. All of my products are 100 percent handmade by me. The inspiration behind my designs is always Egyptian and specifically from Nubia, Siwa and Sina. I love their colors and their motifs. I feel like they're a reflection of me. I love wearing colours and patterns,”  says the young entrepreneur. "I'm the type who works without planning, I do it on the spot and based on what I feel and however it comes out is how it comes out." 

Check her out on Instagram.