Name: Charral Izhiman

Name of business: Charral

What do you make?
I make alternative neckline fashion wear. My signature product is a cross between a scarf and a necklace so I call it a Scarfette. I like beads a lot too but couldn't find something in the shops that didn't look a bit too old for my age. So I started making necklaces using fabric and beads. It's a modern twist

Where can we get our mitts on your products?
At the moment, I'm showcasing at ARTE at least once a month. I will be registering at other local markets. I'm always just message or call away though as you can reach me through my Facebook page or just call. As it is still early days for me I'm happy to do house parties or things like that as well.

How did you get started?
Research showed me that crafters only messed with fabric as a hobby. I had been dreaming for a while about a business that supported lots of crafty women around the world and eventually I took the plunge after a yoga trip to Goa. I brought back some beautiful cuts from India. My next stop was Saudi Arabia believe it or not, and I love the fabric and haberdashery shops there. Back in Dubai, I made necklaces and unfinished designs on my living room floor sat on my yoga mat. Three months later I moved into a two bed and converted the 2nd bedroom in to my Fashion Kitchen.
Who and what inspire you?
Women inspire me especially my mum. Women don't take their creative skills seriously and I think that's madness. I never thought watching my mum sew and making button holes and sewing hems would come in handy 20 years later in my life. I enjoy building and promoting brands a lot. Instead doing for a living for corporation I want to do for me and for something that counts. So Charral is about attracting women from every background that are good with their hands but wouldn't know where to start or care for the business side of going professional. I've started with just me for now but one day Charral which means a free woman and a friend will represent creative women from around the world making amazing alternative chic accessories that don't exist on the high street. How do you split your time? Is there a day job?
My day job is very demanding so most of my making time happens as I'm leading up to a launch or market. The ideas in my head happens all the time especially when I'm driving home. Sometimes I can't sleep unless I start an idea and leave it on the work table for the next day to complete. I'm now getting a few custom orders and referrals so that's a great push to know I'm making it for someone I've met.

What is your workspace like?
My workspace is called the Fashion Kitchen. I love going in there to make things or just to mess with fabric. I get lost in so many ideas. Sometimes it's the first place I go to as soon as I walk through the door. I have tupperwares of jersey cotton and various material under middle table, yarns and wool from UK and Ireland in the corner, a sewing machine in the left corner and a display area in the right side.

What are your essential tools of the trade?
All kinds of fabric, ribbons, beads and yarns bound together by repurposing or up-cycling.

Creative highlight so far?
The success of the chainmail Scarfette and the crochet Scarfette.

Chainmail Scarfette


Crochet Scarfette


My favourites are the Tyette and knotted Scarfette.




knotted Scarfette


I've got some really different necklaces in the pipeline. They'll be ready for the ARTE market on 11th Dec.

Which UAE companies and creatives do you admire?
· Brownies & More (The Brownie Box) – I watched Jihan go from frustration in the kitchen to a shop in Box Park.

· Plug – designed my brand identity

· The Cycle Bistro – what I've needed all along

· RAW –

· Judith Hobby Clothing – part of the reason I started

· I also like some of the other stands at ARTE & Ripe that I have bought from for Christmas.

Why is supporting small businesses so important to you?
Because it's the best economic decision I could make for my future. And in equal measures I can support women in a context well beyond feminism.

Excerpt from my research article

"With an interest in supporting women the stats I found are staggering when you learn that entrepreneurship is now led by women in very unfortunate circumstances around the globe. The tipping point came about in 2009. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2012 report shows that Africa is by far an emerging market for entrepreneurship and the gap between men and women is only 3% as noted in a HBR report as well. However if you add innovation to the mix, US and Europe are ahead of the game.

Browsing through these social businesses and the trends online, I found that female entrepreneurs were from Uganda, Senegal, Rwanda, Kenya, Ghana, Mumbai, Cambodia, Nepal, Ecuador and Bosnia. While this isn't an extensive list, it's still obvious that the business ideas are driven by the need for sustainability. The businesses are all created around handmade products and initiatives to give back to their communities. They are often so creative they up-cycled materials and produced eco-friendly items.

Bringing this thought closer to home as I don't live in Africa - I live in Dubai; in the Middle East, men are ahead of women by 10% and represent half of Africa's share in entrepreneurship."

"A UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) report revealed literally this Tuesday (8/7/2014) that one in four of all households is headed by women facing the fight for survival with no resources. The gaps I found in female entrepreneurship came down to no record of trends in the ME with a social goal. Or if that is wrong, do we or why don't we have more social businesses in the ME"

Full article

As I mentioned I've started small and just me. I'm also not trying to be a jewelry designer. There are loads out there with fabulous products. I want to bridge the gap for a western appeal and market appetite made my women that are genuinely making a living out of it. Because only then does it count. The plan is that eventually Charral will evolve to reflect many women with a skilled hand.

I am on a mission to make Charral the creative hub for female micro-businesses locally and in less fortunate countries. These ladies will come together in the designs that create chic and unique accessories with a story to tell. Etymology theories suggest that the most common meaning for Charral is a friend or a free woman hence the name of for this concept/business initiative.

Of course it helps that it is my name and I can one day register it legally. J

What else can be done in Dubai to get more people buying local?
With Dubai or GCC in general being labels driven, I think there needs to be a move towards making supporting local business a cool thing to do or even better a sign of a socially progressive approach to living. I've started a mini Christmas campaign through my Facebook page titled "Go handmade. It's more thoughtful". With enough people on the job, it will catch on. That's one good side to Dubai.
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