Meet the dynamic German-Algerian Lebdiri Sisters, Meriem & Selma – founders of theLebdiri studios in Germany. These sisters are taking the German filmmaking and fashion industry by storm. Read their interview below, and check out an awesome video (above) we made in collaboration with them.
When did you start wearing hijab? Tell us a little about your journey, how you came to wear it, and what factors were involved?
Meriem: As a young girl I’ve always loved dressing up my barbies and made them futuristic hijabs and head wraps. I started wearing hijab when I was eleven and struggled a lot with finding modest yet stylish clothing. That’s why I decided to study fashion design.
Selma: Since I was young, the hijab symbolized so much positivity and strength to me. The women I looked up to – like my mother and Meriem – wore it, so it was something I really looked forward to wearing, even as a young girl. I wanted to be like them.
Of course later during teenage years, I formed a deeper understanding and connection with modesty. It was not always an easy path, especially growing up in Germany, where the out-of-touch public debates about “headscarves” never seem to end. Today I am happy to have opportunities to be part of this conversation with our work, which hopefully will ease the path for girls to come.
Tell us more about your work as Lebdiri Sisters.
Selma: Us working together started off as an organic development. Before we became business partners, we were creative collaborators. We started off working with clients on their projects, but right now, we are focusing on our fashion line, Mizaan. It’s really an interesting time for us since there are so many possibilities in the digital space and we can create exactly the way we want. We were taught to always dream big and work hard, so this makes us push each other even further.
Meriem: I love how we complement each other. We have different skills but share the same vision. It helps that both of us are workaholics. I love this combination, especially when we work on our fashion label, Mizaan, and creative agency, Lebdiri Studios.
What are some of your favorite parts of doing this work? Any projects that stood out?
Selma: While I studied abroad for 6 months in Istanbul, Meriem came over to visit and brought her collection in her suitcase. We shot right in between the chaos of that amazing city. Every time I see one of those photos or collection pieces I remember our crazy time there. I will never forget those days!
Meriem: Yes, it was magical! At the moment we are preparing for Dubai Modest Fashion Week where we will show the new Mizaan Fall/Winter 2018/2019 on the catwalk. The collection is telling a very emotional story about the “chapters of life”. I think this will be our biggest project so far.
Last weekend we had the campaign shoot which took us two full days of styling, shooting, filming, interviews, and meetings. One of the props for the shoot was Audrey Hepburn’s car – which was SO exciting to shoot with.
Selma: Yes this campaign is the biggest yet. Actually thinking about it, I feel like the memories we make on set are really precious. We were under so much stress but the creative energy is everything.
What keeps you motivated?
Meriem: I want to be an empowering role model for my daughters and show them that nothing is impossible to achieve. At the same time, I want them to recognize that they have to work hard to be successful. They have own dreams that they want to fulfill. That’s why my dreams have to work out – so they can keep believing in theirs…
Selma: Staying motivated 24/7 is almost impossible. It is sometimes easy to lose motivation from time to time when some things do not work out but it is totally normal. However, it is very important that you never lose sight of your vision. Also don’t be impatient and try to skip steps – it does not work that way.
If you could tell your 16-year-old self one thing, what would it be?
Meriem: Always believe in yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you’re too young. Improve yourself and work towards your dreams – because dreams won’t come true if you don’t work for them.
Selma: Not fitting in is not as bad as you think. Sometimes, that’s how you stand out.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone struggling with hijab, what would it be?
Meriem: Empower yourself by talking to others that have similar struggles. There are empowering spaces on the internet like the Facebook group “Surviving Hijab.” I think opening up and sharing your story with others that go through the same can be very helpful.
Selma: Wearing hijab is very personal, and like any form of worship, there will be a little struggle. Don’t be shy to talk about your experiences and fears – but don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s!
This interview was first published in Haute Hijab.com