A Conversation With Mariam Yehya
Egyptian Designer Mariam Yehya started off her career in marketing as a brand communications strategist, but soon came to find that her passion truly lied in designing clothes. Deriving from a family of designers, Yehya automatically picked up the pace, hence creating her very own line “Mrs Keepa” and channeling her irreverent taste and talent into her debuting vintage collection.
Azyaamode sat down with the Dubai-based fashion maven to find more about her new line!
You used to work as a media professional in Dubai. Can you tell us about the defining moment when you knew you wanted to be a fashion designer?
I was on my honeymoon walking in the streets of Florence with my husband when I noticed a big shop with a beautiful vitrine designed with playful and colorful fabrics. I felt the fabrics were talking to me saying “ make of me a design”. This image didn’t leave my mind for almost 2 days and it revived all my dreams of fashion designing. I couldn’t stop talking about it to my husband who looked at me with a BIG smile and said, “ Mariam, I think it’s about time you pursue your dream, I believe you were made for fashion.” I woke up the next day emailing my company with my resignation and shortly after I registered online with Esmod Dubai for their 1-year program.
You got into fashion by putting together an Instagram page with over 60k followers. What made you to go into the fashion world and cross over the influencer/designer bridge?
I never considered myself as an influencer as all my posts are organic with no endorsements or ads. Plus I don’t have a crazy number of followers. I used my instagram page as a marketing tool for the launch of my own brand. Its role was to share with my followers genuine styling tips and keep them posted on what’s happening with my line. Instagram played a major role in my fashion career switch, as the appreciation and support I received from my followers was a great push.
We assume you developed your fashion enthusiasm at Esmod Dubai. How did this experience affect your career?
Actually my fashion enthusiasm started way back, before Esmod and specifically when I was 10 years old, as I come from a family where design and styling runs in our blood. My mother uniquely designed and sewed all of our clothes -a talent she had developed from her mother. She also helped me develop a sense of fashion and an eye for color mixing and styling at a very early stage in my life. My sister is also a renowned bridal fashion designer; she has been awarded the Middle East’s number 3 bridal designer and was recently featured on CNN @maisonyeya. I minored in fashion at university and enrolled in ESMOD to complete my studies and learn all the technical sides of the fashion industry, like sewing, pattern making, fashion marketing and much more.
Could you tell us more about Mrs.Keepa, the brand?
Mrs. Keepa is a pret-a-porter line, of which 30 % is pret-couture; it’s a Boho luxe brand with a 70s era inspiration. The Brand was named after my husband’s nickname Keepa, as he is famous for his goal keeping skills.
You are inspired by boho-chic trends, architectural concepts and childlike patterns. How do you mix-and-match each and every one of these concepts, creating the perfect 70s-inspired combination?
I reflected the 70s mood on all concepts through the selection of the right fabrics. I chose the warm colors for the modern Dubai inspired designs and played a lot with the styling to make sure it all reflects the same mood.
Can you describe the Mrs.Keepa woman in one sentence?
A woman who creates her own edge, dictates her very own trends and is confident of her personal style.
Who inspires you the most in fashion?
I love the fashion diversity and edginess of Rhianna.
Would you say that your daughter played a significant role in your newfound collection?
Absolutely! She was the main inspiration behind most of the collection’s pieces. I came to know I was pregnant when I was sketching for the FW016 collection and I was traveling a lot to get fabrics; so I decided to take advantage of the travels and start my baby shopping and that is when new sketches started to take over. I was so taken by the French baby clothes brands; they are very rich in fabrics, warm in colors and have a twist in their designs to make them playful and happy. I was so inspired by this direction that it became my guidelines for FW016 collection designs.
After launching your first collection, what‘s next for you? What is your ultimate goal?
I have Big plans for Mrs. Keepa, but I am enjoying taking things one-step at a time. At this stage, I want to focus on designing without having to stress about what is next. Luckily I am starting from a good place where there already is an existing brand awareness and great market exposure, thanks to Instagram. For now, I am giving it my all and hopefully the brand will evolve organically.