Time: April 20, 2018
I was born and raised in Riyadh and moved to London in 2004 to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree, followed by a Master’s degree in Mental Health.
Eight years ago, when I started on my Ph.D. in Psychology, I felt compelled to go into fashion design. Armed with grit, perseverance and passion, I took the plunge and launched my own brand, LUM, in May 2010.
I had no financial assistance and no fancy business plans — but I believed in it. No one else did, except my older sister who stood by me.
In spite of its humble beginning, the brand was well-received in the Kingdom and the Gulf region. But my father, a physician, was not convinced. I placed a bet with him, vowing to make substantial sales and revenue within one month. On July 1, 2013, I won that bet, making him my number one supporter. In 2016, I achieved my academic dream, obtaining a Ph.D. in psychology at City University London.
But it was not easy. Enduring sleepless nights and homesickness, I persevered to meet high academic demands. Meanwhile, the LUM business continued to flourish.
People asked why a successful fashion designer would pursue a doctorate in psychology. I was constantly asked to pick one — but my heart was in one and my mind was in another.
Few believed I could achieve both. At times, I too doubted myself.
Today, I am an assistant professor at Dar Al Hekma University in Jeddah, supervising award-winning researchers. I am also a Saudi designer and manager of a successful fashion brand sold in the GCC, New York and Los Angeles. I share my story to empower women to pursue their dreams, to believe in themselves, to fight for what they want.
People still ask: “Why both?”
I reply, smiling: “Because one dream was not enough.”