Don’t Sweat It!

I’ve never worked out. I mean there were these two years in high school that I ran track, but I wasn’t even close to being an athlete. Now the whole family has joined the gym and we’re trying to lead a more active lifestyle.

The gym that I’ve joined is a lot like high school, the lockers, the basketball court and bleachers. I even sensed that awkwardness like the first day of class when I sheepishly walked into the yoga class. I had no idea there were thousand different yoga’s offered; Hot Vinyasa Yoga, Fitness Yoga, Vinyasa Flow Yoga, oh and I almost forgot Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga!

People high-fived each other as they walked into the classroom and were doing all kinds of warm up stretches which I pretended to ignore while I cooly hung out in the back. There were definite cliques and friendships that have been established. These women “the cool” ones were on top of their game. They were dressed the part with their black and pink Nike’s, black fitness pants and had an attitude like high school cheerleaders.

I was not intimidated like I may have been in high school or junior high but a part of me wanted to fit in and I suddenly wished I would have dressed the part a little better. I was wearing a washed out old tunic and these gray workout pants, I was most definitely not matching in anyway. I had even forgotten to wear the ankle socks and instead I was wearing old school crew socks that made me stand out even more.

As our teacher walked in and dimmed the lights I took a sigh of relief, at least nobody would notice my faded kurti and my unironed hijab (I need to take my own advice) The class began first with some light stretching and breathing – the teacher was incredibly nice and assured us that this was not a competitive sport but a place to relax, unwind and focus on ourselves.

I totally enjoyed the class and loved being able to be child-free for the time I spent in the gym.  The only challenge now is trying to find some modest but trendy workout clothes. So I contacted my blogger friend Farrah Khan of Greater Lengths, her blog is focused entirely on helping Muslim women create a modest and trendy wardrobe.  She has put together an post on modest workout wear! Check it out, I’ll be doing some shopping too, but in the meantime I’ll start by wearing my ankle socks, deodrant and bringing my desi Swag to the gym even if it is in my Cotton Kurtis.

 

 

 

A Morning with Modern Mary

 

Abeer and I had the opportunity to visit Seema Sahin’s Boutique in Tysons Corner a few weeks ago, we were excited to talk with Seema to see how she manages her modesty clothing line as well as her family life with two young kids. While we chatted we got a chance to try some of her custom designs. Pictures and interview below:

 

BB: How did the idea of  Modern Mary come about?

SS: Giving women the chance to express themselves while being true to their identity. Finding modest fashionable designs in mainstream clothing stores is not only limited, but can pose a challenge for many women. It can be challenging finding styles that express their cultural heritage, American identity, and at the same time being true to their faith. I wanted to create a hassle free shopping experience for these women, offering them a fashionable alternative that already fits with the guidelines of their faith. What motivates me is trying to reconcile these three forces and translate them into my design.  Creating modest designs is one thing, but there is a certain flair to my designs that makes it stand out and appealing.

 

BB: How did you take the initial leap from an online based business to having a  boutique?

Modern Mary’s Boutique in Tyson’s Corner, VA

SS: I wanted women to have a fun and comfortable shopping experience. The only way was to bring the designs to them. I knew that an online store was not enough, which is why I decided to open up a boutique. The Boutique offers our customers an exclusive shopping experience without compromise to privacy and comfort. Modern Mary’s boutique is a first of its kind, catering to the Muslim market. Modern Mary’s boutique opened its doors to the public December 2010 outside of DC in the Northern Virginia area. Modern Mary’s full collection can be viewed at the boutique by appointment only. Custom evening and bridal wear available. We offer complimentary fittings when creating a custom design.

The designer of Modern Mary, Seema with her model

 

BB: Any advice for Muslim entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting their own business?

SS: When starting a business, it’s more than just pursuing a passion. Yes, you have to be passionate about what you are doing, but you also have to be persistent, willing to learn, and ready to play various roles. I can’t run a business by just designing- I had to learn to be a manager, bookkeeper, marketer, etc. Most importantly put yourself out there. It’s all about networking… network, network, and network! Let everyone know who you are and what you andyour business is about. There are many groups that you can join or attend (both Muslim based professional groups and non-Muslim professional groups). Take advantage of those networking opportunities because you never know what relationships you will create that would benefit your business or company.

 

BB: how do you manage it all, your family, household chores, family obligations? 

Orange layered tunic, $59

SS: It’s an everyday challenge! Being able to balance the role of being a mother, a wife, a designer, and an entrepreneur is not easy, and I’m still working to achieve that balance. Alhamdulillah, my passion for designing is what keeps me going. It’s a combination of time-management, organization, communication, and accommodation. Time management- balancing my time with the family and my business; Organization- otherwise nothing will get done! Communication- scheduling with my husband, or family members to watch the kids when I have an event, or need to be at the boutique; Accommodation- life happens, and need to accept that not everything will go according to plan—I have my Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, but here I am pursuing a career in fashion design. Thankfully I have a great support network I can turn to when seeking help with taking care of the kids and other family obligations.

 

BB: Can you share your first runway experience with us? How did it feel seeing your clothes on the runway?

SS: My first major runway show was at DC Fashion Week Fall 2011. My designs were featured in their International Couture Collections show. Seeing my designs going down the runway and hearing applauds from the audience, not only was it amazing but a surreal moment. Being able to transform an idea into a vision, it’s truly rewarding. Fashion shows bring your designs to life. I hope to continue to watch my designs going down the runway.

Modern Mary Custom Dress, $128

 Like what you see? Check out Modern Mary’s designs:

www.modernmary.com

www.facebook.com/modernmaryboutique

http://twitter.com/#!/seemasahin