Pakistani designer Mehreen Hamza Tabani has been making jewellery for a few years now, creating some of the finest custom pieces in the industry. She has collaborated with countless designers while showcasing her skills as a versatile designer who has turned her passion into a craft that has women of all ages in hot pursuit of her designs. OK! Pakistan catches up with the devoted artisan to discuss her journey as a jewellery designer and what it means to her.
Tell us about yourself. What influenced you to become a jewellery designer?
Mehreen Hamza Tabani: I am Mehreen Hamza Tabani, mother of two handsome boys and a pretty little girl. A homemaker by choice, and a jewellery designer by profession; I am driven by the urge to design unique artisanal pieces that are a style statement for many.
Since childhood, I was awestruck by jewellery and had an affinity for semi-precious stones. I was often seen adorning unique pieces that were appraised by people around me. I got married at the age of 19, but soon followed my true calling. Therefore, what started as a hobby, soon blossomed into a full-fledged career.
How and when did you start making jewellery pieces?
MT: During my childhood, I travelled to Tanzania and other invigorating places. I used to look for statement jewellery pieces and was often seen flaunting innovative designs. Therefore, I personally think that my love for jewellery and semi-precious stones was inborn.
After my marriage, I spent a decade of my life as a homemaker. Once my children were grown up, I thought I could now focus on my hobby and I came up with Allure By MHT, an aspiring jewellery brand that is inspired by my multicultural experiences.
“My collection has something for everyone; from statement designs, everyday wear, bridals and couture – I do everything. Moreover, I have always tried to keep my prices minimal to ensure its accessibility amongst the masses”
What’s your jewellery philosophy?
MT: My design philosophy is simple, “Be bold or not do it at all”. My jewellery is different from the run of the mill stuff; it’s statement, creative and a reflection of the modern woman that gives it its unique charm.
What is the single most important jewellery-making skill you’ve learned?
MT: Experimentation! I don’t know if that classifies as a skill, but it’s really very important in the jewellery business.
What does a typical day look like for you as a jewellery designer?
MT: Since I believe my responsibility as a homemaker stands first, typically my day starts with running errands for my children. Once that’s done, it’s all about experimenting with new materials, going through customer feedback, collaboration meetings with designers, managing the production, sketching new designs and much more. Since I am a perfectionist, I personally manage everything myself. From setting up the studio, production and inventory to streamlining deliveries – I make sure to overlook each and everything. Trust me, it’s nerve-wracking at times.
What are you favourite materials to work with?
MT: I love semi-precious stones! The raw texture, unique shape and sizes, lustrous feel – everything about them is miraculous. They are my absolute favourite and you get to see them in most of my statement pieces.
What is your favourite creation?
MT: Well, it’s like you’re asking me to choose one amongst my babies? [Laughs] While all my pieces are crafted with love and precision, I personally adore my Katori Pearl design that has been a massive hit since its inception. It’s special because it has an everlasting charm; it’s minimalistic yet impactful.
Tell us about your design process.
MT: My design process is sketching, hands-on experimentation with different materials, making the cad cam, approving the finished product and then finally mass production.
What makes your collections unique in the industry?
MT: My collection has something for everyone; from statement designs, everyday wear, bridals and couture – I do everything. Moreover, I have always tried to keep my prices minimal to ensure its accessibility amongst the masses.
As a jewellery designer, where do you draw your inspiration from?
MT: I take inspiration from my multi-cultural experiences. Travelling and exploring different cultures has had a strong impact on my design philosophy.
What’s it like to spot someone wearing one of your designs?
MT: I still get very excited. Trust me, I feel I’m still not ready to face the spotlight and hence I’ve kept my media exposure minimal to date. However, there’s no better feeling than seeing people accessorise and bedazzle in Allure.
You have collaborated with several designers – which collaboration is closest to your heart and why?
MT: Yes, Alhumdullilah! Allah has been extremely merciful, where we’ve collaborated with the finest of designers in Pakistan including Élan, Sania Maskatiya, Sana Safinaz, Republic Womenswear, and more. I owe my success to Sana Safinaz because they gave me confidence and trusted me while I was still new in the business.
What are upcoming trends in jewellery?
MT: Pearls for one, but I’m predicting chunky metallic gold pieces and oversized earrings to be the next jewellery trend.
Tell us about your latest collection and what inspired it.
MT: My latest collection was Poise. I wanted to come up with a pop and quirky collection – great for everyday wear. The designs are mostly inspired by colours, unique stone settings and hip-hop culture.
What advice would you give aspiring jewellery designers?
MT: Well, I’d just suggest them to explore and come up with their own jewellery style. Copying won’t take you anywhere.
What’s next for the future of your brand?
MT: I am really optimistic about the future of Allure. I see it growing *touchwood* and becoming a luxury brand for local and international households.
MT: There are so many; I can’t name one.
One person who you would love to design jewellery for?
MT: My daughter once she grows up.
What are you currently reading?
MT: To Kill a Mocking Bird.
Any jewellery designer you look up to?
MT: Since my design philosophy is innovation-centric, I take inspiration from nature and cultural experiences rather than people.
MT: Turkey, any day!
One piece of jewellery you always have on?
Three things that are always in your bag?
MT: My cellphone, keys, and jewellery.
When you are not designing jewellery, you are…?
MT: Travelling and spending time with my family.
INTERVIEW: MEHR KASSIM
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTSEY MEHREEN HAMZA TABANI