LONDON: Saudah Saleem, the founder of her own award-winning interior design firm, is not your average entrepreneur.
“I am an African American Muslim,” said the woman behind Saudah Saleem Interiors, who wears a hijab without compromising elegance and freshness.
“I have always felt that being stylish and maintaining a Muslim identity are not mutually exclusive,” she explained. “There are few visible Muslims in the interior design industry in the US. As such, my hijab style has become sort of my calling card,” she stated.
She sometimes refers to her hijab style as “fashion meets faith.” What is equally interesting is Saleem's personal style.
“I am well known for my eye for fashion and styling and enjoy creating beautiful curated, vibrant spaces tailored to exceed my clients’ expectations and unique lifestyle needs. I love using pattern, texture, vivid color, and a mix of elegant and eclectic design elements to create an aesthetic that is both sophisticated yet approachable.”
Typically, she dresses in layers with statement pieces like a bold-printed hijab or a vintage Chanel handbag. Saleem uses a classic piece combined with eclectic elements to create a sophisticated yet practical look.
“Dressing modestly in a society and culture that emphasizes the concept of ‘less is more' does require a bit of ingenuity,” she said.
She said that the fashion industry caters more now for modest clothing because of demand, but not necessarily and “specifically for Muslims.”
Her design career began when she was a newlywed designing her first apartment. “I became acutely aware of my ability to make impactful changes in my space and loved it,” she recalled.
It was then that Saleem realized she wanted to become an interior designer and is now aiming to expand her services globally.
The ingredients to her success, she said, are faith, resourcefulness, perseverance and courage. Influenced by her love of art, history and world culture, she is inspired by the Muslim women in her community who maintained their unique heritage during a time in the US when Islam was still seen as quite foreign.
I love that my clients weren’t afraid of mixing prints, colors or materials to achieve a fresh look for their living space. . . One of my favorite pieces in this modern family living space is this contemporary glass and wood end table. I love the mix of materials! It allows for a blending of styles, provides great storage and makes for a pretty cool conversation piece. . #realestate
Saleem has had to overcome some challenges as a mother of five and business owner. “It is important to me to ensure that I am spending time with family as well as cultivating and maintaining client relationships,” she explained.
As for her advice for those seeking to become entrepreneurs, Saleem offered this: “Firmly ground yourself in your beliefs, invest in your passion and persevere.”