What started as a couple of bags custom made by Muneera Al Nibari and Sirine Saadeldine to carry to university, didn't take long to become a growing handbag line. The two friends share one style vision, and a good eye for detail.
SHANTA, Arabic for "bag", embodies a vintage look that is soaked in the colors and textures of today. Whether classic or ruffled, suede juxtaposed with delicate chiffon, or in delicious shades like lilac, watermelon-pink, or pistachio green, the handbags cater to all moods, looks, and preferences.
We interviewed the young designers behind the brand, and got the details behind the making of their beautiful handbags..
You are two friends who have collaborated together to create the handbag brand, SHANTA. Could you tell us how you came together to do so?
We’ve been friends for so long, having attended the same school and university. We’re fans of vintage pieces whether they are bought or inherited. Sirine had this one piece whose lining needed to be changed; we then accidentally stumbled into a store that offered to custom-make handbags and showed us a beautiful, varied range of leather. We were in need and search for bags to take when attending university and decided to give it a try. The reaction we received from people was what pushed us into starting the business.
How hard (or easy) is it to creatively collaborate with one another?
Sirine: It’s easy because we generally have the same taste in fashion with the odd different quirk here and there. For example, I find myself picking up Muneera many times only to discover that we’re wearing a similarly styled outfit or even in the same combination of colors! We do however bring different things to the table so working together is always a lovely experience.
What made you choose handbags as the cornerstone of your business?
SHANTA started out as a personal passion of making bags for ourselves. It later grew into creating them for a couple of friends on request. The instant success we experienced made it inevitable that we would eventually go into this line of manufacturing leather goods, specifically the handbag business.
How would you describe the essence of SHANTA? What are the little touches that you put into the brand that make it unique?
As SHANTA grows we realize that our pieces are timeless. We don’t follow the trend just because it's trending but because we like it and that comes mainly from our philosophy and work ethic. We’re involved in the process from A-Z.
Who do you see wearing your handbags? How would you style someone wearing them?
Someone who is trendy, hip, young and true to themselves. The celebrity we’d most like to see wearing a SHANTA would be Alexa Chung because of her distinctive personal style. You look at her and think, "Wow, I would love to wear that" – and that’s how we feel about our bags.
Different bags naturally inspire different looks; for instance, we have our Classic bag which could tone down an ultra funky look or our Ruffle Dream which would add an edge to a simple outfit.
What do your fans have to say about your handbags?
We’ve so far gotten a lot of positive feedback which we’re very happy about. I think the best incident would be that a girl came up to us professing her love for our bags. She told us that she had borrowed her friend's Shanta for her honeymoon and that it was her favorite because it was the prettiest and the most practical out of all the bags she had taken along.
Do you have a style muse that inspires your creations?
We can’t really pinpoint any one style muse that has been an inspiration because each of our bags is unique and every season has different creative associations with it. Personally speaking, it’s a combination of culture and what’s currently trending. However, our own person style will remain the basis of each design. Our bags are definitely soaked in a vintage feel yet found in the latest colors and leathers.
What's next in line for SHANTA?
Our personal life, style and needs influence our line a lot. We’ve made passport covers, makeup bags, beach bags, laptop bags, iPad cases and so on, all things that we felt we needed a "SHANTA" for.
Our latest addition is one inspired by our everyday work life, it's something very different than what we usually do and we’re excited about the reaction as well as seeing the final outcome.
Where Shanta is going exactly we can’t tell you, but we’ll assure you it’s not going to stop.
– Priyanka Sacheti
Images courtesy of SHANTA