Any artist or creative type will tell you that it is difficult to strike upon a creation that holds appeal on a broad level, one that can attract people of varied aesthetic preferences. However, that is just what By Sophie designer Joumana Haj Ali has managed to do by blending modern trends with antique-inspired designs. Her passion for collecting antique jewelry eventually led to her own line, and the results were met with much success. In her collections, you can find everything from teardrop heirloom necklaces to colorful beaded bracelets. In our 5 Minutes With interview, we ask her about her personal style preferences, her favorite spring trends, and what it’s like to be an entrepreneur in a tough industry.
How did you come up with the name of your jewelry line, By Sophie?
It’s named after my daughter Sofia, who is eight years old now.
You have been a long-time collector of antique jewelry. When did this interest begin?
Antique jewelry, furniture, and products have always interested me. They inspired me to design my own pieces, and my passion for antiquities grew tremendously when I started my own line.
What drew you to the world of design?
I have always had a passion for fashion and design, but designing jewelry really just started off as a hobby. I spent a lot of time researching and understanding how to make jewelry, and then I started designing on my own.
How is your company structured? Do you take on the bulk of duties?
I take care of most of the duties, including designing the jewelry, selecting the materials, and handling the bigger clients. However, I do have a small team that helps me with some of the front- and back-office operations, and a PR company that helps me promote my brand.
Is your jewelry produced here in Dubai?
I have a small workshop in Dubai as well as Lebanon, but the largest one is in Turkey.
How would you describe your own style preferences? What is your fashion philosophy?
I’d say comfort, quality, and elegance are the three things that define my style. I believe it’s important to be true to yourself and dress in a way that reflects your personality.
What did you score in your last accessory splurge?
I bought a gorgeous jewel-embellished clutch.
What trends are you excited about for spring?
I am very fond of white, so I look forward to adding loads of white to my wardrobe this spring.
What advice would you give to other budding designers in Dubai? Is there something you wish you had known starting out?
A degree in fashion isn’t necessary.
By Sophie jewelry is available in the UAE at S*uce Boutique, The Dubai Mall.
interviewed by NOOR TEHINI|photos: courtesy of JOUMANA HAJ ALI