After getting her MBA from Harvard Business School and gaining experience, Dareen Hakim decided to pursue her dream and moved into the world of fashion.
Hakim has a remarkable fashion line; her bags help women enjoy their femininity. Each bag is unique and has a story behind it. You can sense the elegance in Hakim’s designs; she has developed her own style and created her identity.
How do you get inspired?
I gain a lot of my inspiration through everyday life and my surroundings. It is really great living in such a vivacious, diverse metropolitan city like New York. And at the same time, my Lebanese heritage has always been an inspiration in both self-expression and my personal aesthetic, and it is this bicultural influence that launched my first handbag collection. I like wearing such statement pieces, as they’re not just an accessory but a story. I find in each bag a reflection of me across the different levels of my past and present… and I strive for each woman to find her story in our bags.
Why bags? What was the idea behind yours?
I’ve always loved handbags because they are season - less, whether you purchase the latest “it” bag or carry your grandmother’s vintage clutch from fifty years ago, they are still classic, relevant and the ultimate statement piece if done right. Handbags fit anyone, so you can create them for a personality, not a demographic. Creativity is endless as there is still a lot that hasn’t been done, and many more ways to introduce newness. In creating my handbags, I wanted to bring unique elements of both my present and my past together. For example, I’ll use a material, like fine, delicate, supple leather, with a modern brushed effect and contemporary clean lines, together with an oversized, raw, heavy metal that’s finely carved in an ancient authentic style…
I think that creating something so unique and original lends itself to what fashion is meant to be. As a designer you are meant to design things that people have not seen before, push the limits and be different, which is why people find themselves drawn to my collection.
In what ways do we feel your Lebanese roots in your achievements?
Not just my achievements, but the achievements of Lebanese designers all over the world. The Lebanese society especially is open and pluralistic, and as a result has always been courageous and very expressive. This also translates into Lebanese people, especially the women - they typically enjoy standing out in a crowd and not being afraid to show off their personal style. This environment has encouraged Lebanese designers like myself to challenge fashion trends and always seek new ideas and creative, edgy, ‘outside the box’ styles – truly creating art and always looking to innovate in a unique way. This aesthetic of Lebanese designers stands apart from the more conservative European and American fashion, and has helped Lebanon create a name for itself as a capital of fashion.
What is the best compliment you have ever received?
“For those people who say that you can’t do everything, they have never met Dareen.” While I certainly can’t do everything, I do strive to do as much as possible. So this is a recognition that I know is much too generous, but extremely satisfying and rewarding to hear.
Where are your pieces sold?
I am very proud and humbled to say that the collection has been sold in over 60 countries across the globe. We have over 300 retailers worldwide, as well as some exclusive online e-commerce partners in each region of the world, and we’re sold in large department stores such as Bloomingdales. Our website is the best resource for customizing a bag, and we ship anywhere in the world for free.
Could you describe your daily lifestyle?
Here is a typical day in my life:
7am: Wakeup call “Mama! Mama!” by a sweet singing voice, and her baby sister’s crib kicking in excitement. Our morning ritual of laughter, tumbling, tickles, coffee run for Mama and Mila/Gia (Mama’s is brown and Mila/Gia’s is white or chocolaty), wash up and dress-up time.
9am: Nanny arrives and Mama gets ready for the day. 9:30am: At the gym or running around the city to do errands while responding to calls/emails/texts from the night before.
11am: Arrive at office. Meetings, emails galore, putting out fires, celebrating the wins.
7pm: Run back home to see my angels and 2 hours of family time
9pm: Computer comes out and dinner with hubby, all at once until 12am or 1am or 2am. Your guess is as good as mine.
What is your advice to new bag designers?
Not every day is easy but that you should allow the difficulties to drive you, each little win is a step forward in your journey. My best advice is to follow your heart because that’s what you’ll be best at. Find people who support you unconditionally. With those two elements, you can do whatever you put your mind to. And just remember, we are all given the opportunity and the responsibility to give back to our communities whenever we can, so please always keep that in your hearts as you progress.