Monday, June 6, 2011

Creativity unleashed

*Well this was my very first article to be published. It will always remain special to me. Thank you to everyone who has helped me achieve this moment. I know it is a lot of formality, but I would like to keep this like that.*

Shoe aficionado, Najla al Kindi showcases her flair for shoe designing with a touch of modernity. Though a newbie in the shoe industry, Najla’s shoes portray experience, involvement and sharpness. Her shoes carry a token of Oman, either through its design, material or embellishments. The uniqueness lies in her adopting jewellery, that we usually use to adorn our neck or hands, to beautify the shoes.

With no formal education in her field of interest, she was fortunate to be blessed with a creative instinct. “I started with painting, home decoration, vase making and gift wrapping. In 2007, Layali al Asalah, an event management company, organised a shoe design competition called ‘When Authenticity Speaks’.
The competition was preceded by a workshop that guided the participants on how to ideate, conceptualise and select the material required in shoe designing. “I really enjoyed the challenge of combining three cultures (Omani, Yemeni and Chinese) for designing shoes. I won the competition and was awarded a week’s scholarship at Monash University in Australia for a jewellery-designing workshop,” she said.
The workshop and the course from the Monash University have proved instrumental in shaping Najla’s career as a successful shoe designer. She has since then not only created exemplary shoe designs but has also garnered a loyal customer base.
Najla constantly tries to harmonise the old and the new, thereby preserving the beauty of Omani culture. “I do this, either by adding Omani jewellery or fabric. For example, in one of my designs, I used the big bangle that Omanis wear and resized it to use it in a shoe. Sometimes, I use the material used for making scarves. There are several fabrics in Oman that people are unaware of. I would like to educate them about this in my own unique way,” she said. “I use different fabrics in my designs, such as bresam, that comes in various bright colours and is used in our traditional clothes. For my second collection, I used this fabric with embroidery,” she said.
A perfectionist, Najla is very particular about the quality of the footwear she designs and ensures that she sells only high quality shoes. As a result, she had to search hard for quality shoes. “Heels or soles are not sold in Oman. So, I buy readymade shoes, remove its design and use only its heel or sole. I make sure that the shoes I buy are of high quality, which is one main reason why my shoes are considered expensive, ranging from RO50 to RO95. I work with a person, who actually designs men’s shoes. I explain to him the design and the size and he does it for me,” she added.
A keen follower of Louis Vuitton, Najla would someday like to bring her collection at par with its style ethos and quality standards. She is fascinated by the word ‘Kosh’ and would like it to be the name of her future brand. “A friend of mine told me that some people in Oman refer to shoes as ‘Kosh’. I liked the word, because it was an old word related to shoes. I wanted to modernise it,” she said.
Currently busy designing her Eid collection, Najla designs customised shoes for her customers after analysing their interests and expectations. However, she makes it a point to stick to Omani tradition and not repeat designs. Though most of her customers are Omani, there are quite a few expatriates who are fond of her work. She believes that her designs interest young people. “Initially, very few people knew about my collection. Even those who knew about it were not very impressed because it was something different and unusual for them. But now I have quite a few customers and brides to cater to. At present, I am working for three brides apart from my usual customers.”
A few of her designs are available at Layali al Asalah Villa in South Ghubra. Since she designs on a customer’s orders, Najla can be contacted at

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