New York based accessories designer Dareen Hakim is a woman with passion, creativity and the zest to do it all. A Harvard graduate, who worked across several roles on Wall Street, from Investment Banking to Private Equity, she gave it all up to follow her dream. Now she is a successful entrepreneur with a much coveted handbag line to her name. Dareen Hakim collections was born two years ago and today it’s on every fashionista’s must have list. A fusion of the East and West, Dareen has held onto her identity and her creations are a reflection of that. Her bags fuse Italian leather with Arabic metal to bring a chic collection to life, that is modern, yet retains its old world charm and mystery.
Gotta Love Must Have met Dareen in New York for this fashion chat.
Tell us something about yourself and your background.
I was born in Beirut, Lebanon, which forms a huge part of who I am; from family values to professional ambitions and of course, to my taste for style and fashion. With a desire to be more creative and have my own venture, I decided to attend business school and receive my MBA at Harvard. Upon graduating, I accepted a Brand Manager role at a major cosmetics company, and spent two amazing years cultivating my creativity and refining my operational skills. Gradually, with the encouragement of my friends and family, I left my job to start my own fashion business. I currently live in NYC and though I love being a designer and running my own business, the best part of my day is spending time with my angel, my little girl and sunshine Mila.
What inspired you to start a career in fashion?
In my childhood, I had always naturally picked up drawing and painting. I remember at the age of four waiting for my aunt at her office, and just picking up a pencil and drawing the pet canary with such a level of detail. I then started painting on silk and experimenting with it to make my mom scarves. I learned how to knit from my grandma and designed dresses, tops, scarves, and skirts for my dolls. Then in school I asked to take a ceramics class and designed pottery pieces for my family. I was just always interested and attracted to creation. I love working with different elements that pull style together.
What is the unique thing about your handbag line?
The unique and bold metal accents are what make Dareen Hakim handbags stand out. From our engraved metals that adorn the Le Icon to the chiseled ones on Le Cannes and Le Capri or the hammered metal on Le Beiruti, each metal is made by hand and tells a different kind of story for the woman who chooses to carry it. Classic and chic, edgy and bold or daring and unexpected, each metal in my collection represents some aspect of that.
Who is your target customer?
She is the smart, confident woman who is outgoing, who isn’t afraid to try new things and be daring! Her style is chic yet bold, never boring. She embraces trends but is never defined by them.
What makes you tick as a designer?
I am inspired by so many things and love finding new inspiration in unexpected places. Whether it is an ancient art form, a painting/photograph or my travels, or it could be the latest runway collection by Alexander McQueen, all of these things make me tick in one way or another.
What’s the most challenging part about your career?
The most difficult aspect is wearing various functional hats at the same time, and being able to shift across the roles of business and creative seamlessly, keeping them all flowing in a continuous and coordinated fashion. At the same time, it is also knowing the importance of trade-offs …for example, design and finance are a balancing act. You want to invest into design, yet limit that impact on finance –a checks and balances process every day. Seeing the small wins, and then the bigger wins, and knowing it all stems from my drive, hard work and passion for what I’m doing, is incredibly motivating.
Tell us some of the trends this season that you’re in love with?
I love that metallic is a trend — it is effortless and chic, yet edgy! You can dress up any outfit with a lush touch of metallic, whether it’s your handbag or your shoes or just your jewelry. I am also head over heels for animal print and emerald. Both are very prominent in my current collection, and I love that they are having a major moment in fashion.
Where can we buy your handbags?
I have the privilege of having the collection sold in stores and boutiques all over the world (over 40 countries). But you can also shop the collection on www.dareenhakim.com. We offer free worldwide shipping to our customers, so you can shop from anywhere.
Which is your favorite bag from the collection?
My all-time favorite is Le Icon. That was my first design, the handbag that launched this great business. It’s also one of our most popular handbags. Of the SS13 collection, my personal favorite is Le Parisien. Something about a sleek portfolio clutch, it should be a staple for every woman.
How would you like to see the Dareen Hakim collection evolve?
I would like to continue to evolve the line by continuing to bring beautiful handbags to women across the world. We are expanding into new silhouettes, both smaller and larger, and interpretations of our concept to build on the signature pieces. While this is my focus, I have started to cross into the scarves category through collaboration with a talented painter. Our first limited edition scarf, artfully celebrates our popular inscription “live and laugh” in honor of the laughter of little children that light up our world. We will be contributing a portion of proceeds to the children of St. Jude’s hospital. This scarf is available on our website as well.