As co-founder and creative director, Amna Wahaaj’s commitment to incorporate accessibility and inclusivity within her fashion brand Limelight is definitely one of the factors that sets her apart from the rest. All the intricately designed products are available at affordable prices, which is a commendable feat considering Pakistan’s competitive fashion and retail market.
And if Limelight’s immense success and popularity isn’t proof enough, its recent nomination as Pakistan’s ‘Retail Brand of the Year’ for the Hum Style Awards is evidence that under the creative leadership of Amna Wahaaj, the sky’s the limit for Limelight.
What inspired you to join the world of fashion? What were the driving forces behind the establishment and creation of Limelight in 2010?
Amna Wahaaj: Ever since my childhood, I have always been interested in Arts and Design. To polish my skills I went to NCA to study design. So passion was and still is, one of the biggest forces driving Limelight, along with my husband’s idea that good clothes can also be affordable clothes.
Has your earlier education influenced your decisions regarding the outlook and ideology of your brand?
AW: I did Bachelors in Textile designing from NCA, and definitely whatever you have studied and learned, you do apply in your practical life.
Limelight’s philosophy is to increase accessibility to high end fashion products by selling them at affordable prices. How does your creative vision fit into this?
AW: It is definitely a challenge because keeping up with the latest trends, and in many cases being the trendsetters, while maintaining a specific budget, is no easy task. But this is precisely what makes creativity so exciting and fruitful, working within a financial limitation. We have to try to create the absolute best, using the absolute minimum. It pushes the limits of creativity to the maximum.
What were some of the challenges you faced while establishing a distinct creative style and building your brand? How did you overcome these challenges? Does having a good support system help with the struggles of starting a business from scratch?
AW: Creativity is a very subjective topic. What is considered distinct by one, could be regular for others. I would say that I am extremely grateful to all the customers who found harmony in Limelight’s creative styling.
Challenges keep coming your way, so teamwork is a very important aspect when working on any project. We have a competent team to face the challenges collectively.
A support system matters a lot as my husband and I started this brand together and he is the one who is handling the whole business, while I am heading the Design department. Without each other’s support, it would not have been possible.
The onset of Covid-19 has changed the face of retail entirely. What new ideologies has Limelight incorporated to match altering markets and trends?
AW: Our emphasis on the online store for Limelight was a huge help during this pandemic. While the online system is working well for us, it is no doubt a difficult situation to get through. I would say having a strong team working day and night made it much easier.
In this digital era, there is an increasing demand for inclusivity; that brands cater to women of all sizes and colour. Do you believe that Pakistan has reached a point where there is sufficient inclusivity in fashion campaigns and their products? And on this new spectrum where would you place Limelight on this spectrum?
AW: Firstly, I would say that Limelight has never supported discrimination. We have always tried to cater to everyone’s needs and desires according to their requirements. This is so that anyone can find something that suits them.
As far as the fashion campaigns are concerned, people are obsessed with the fair, slim, and smart look. Hence, you always see advertisements or other campaigns, favoring women of a certain look, which does not necessarily create a realistic image and can actually have lasting psychological effects on many. I think more work still needs to be done regarding the inclusiveness of a wider audience and maintaining the realism of society.
Everyone deserves the freedom and the right to look their best. This is, and will always remain, one of the founding visions of Limelight. Creating the best for everyone.
Keeping in mind the recent reorganization of the fashion and retail world due to the global pandemic, what are some words of wisdom you can share with young aspiring designers looking to create a niche for themselves in the local and international market?
AW: Access to the world has opened up because of digitization. People are becoming more comfortable with the online medium of trade. Therefore, if you have a good idea, then do not be afraid to pursue it. Build a team, even if it is just a few people. It will help you immensely in starting out. Everything requires a huge amount of hard work. If you are going to do something, set your mind to it, and follow it to the end.
What does a day in the life of Amna Wahaaj, Creative Director and Co-founder of Limelight, look like? How do you manage to give a hundred percent at work and still spend quality time with your family?
AW: It is not easy to create that work and personal life balance. Priorities need to be managed accordingly. But my day is not that different from any working mom’s.
INTERVIEW: MISHA ANWAR
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF AMNA WAHAAJ