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Young, Talented and Somali!


A little while ago I caught up with  two vivacious young fashion designers creating a quite stir in inner fashion circles. Graciously, they agreed to let me interview them for Bousharo Magazine, below is a short excerpt of that interview, enjoy! 

Born to Somali parents and raised in both their native country and Washington DC, Somali twins Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim are set to take over the fashion world by storm. In November 2008 the twins assembled their premier collection in New York City and launched a new brand, Mataano (meaning “twins” in Somali), furnishing a platform to express their vision and bring forth their creations to the marketplace. The collection featured a preview of ten dresses, many of which received notice in the industry.  Oprah Winfrey, the queen of daytime television, invited both siblings onto a recent show featuring the Olsen twins and young millionaire moguls. Paralleling their success with the Olsen sisters, Oprah lauded the duo for their inspiring story and much deserved success, and gave them the national credibility that will undoubtedly launch Mataano as an emerging brand with a rich cultural heritage.

Bousharo: tell us about the beginning of your love affair with fashion.

Mataano: Our love of fashion started with our first pay check. We started working at the age of 15 and had more money than we knew what to do with. So we did what any other teenage girl our age would do…..we shopped! Soon we got bored with the clothes we were getting from our local Mall and so we started vintage shopping. Years of shopping at dingy old vintage stores really gave us a keen eye for finding really cool pieces. By eighteen, we would dream about what it would be like to one day own our own boutique, but that was all it was…..a distant dream. My mom had conditioned us from a young age that in order to get ahead in life, you would need a real solid degree. So after high school we went on to college and graduated with Business degree (Ayaan) and English degree(idyl) with both of us having minors in Computer science.

After college, we realized that we still loved fashion and so we packed our things and moved to NY. We both started interning in fashion design companies- Betsey Johnson (Idyl) Jill Stuart (Ayaan). Our internships led to jobs and after 5 years of skillfully honing our crafts….we decided to start our own collection.

Bousharo: How have things been since your appearance on the Oprah Show?

Mataano: A whirlwind! We went from zero to a hundred in a matter of days. The “Oprah effect” is incredibly powerful. We are still in shock about our opportunity. This has been the single most amazing thing to happen to Mataano.

Bousharo: Spring 09 debuts your first collection from the line, a capsule collection of ten dresses; tell us a little about the concept behind the dresses.

Mataano: Our Spring 2009 Collection was greatly influenced by Somali traditional clothes, especially in our use of colour and light silk fabrics. We have always felt the intermingling of cultures to be natural and authentic, and aim to bring that aesthetic to the public through the Mataano brand. We are a product of dual cultures and it is important that our designs reflect that. The line is our response to today’s diverse fashion market.  The first collection is inspired by the “woman as a global citizen,” a lady with strong American roots with a deep appreciation in the beauty of multiculturalism. 

Bousharo: Who is the one designer you would love to collaborate with and why?
Mataano: That’s a tough question. There are too many talented designers out there for us to just pick one. If we had to pick one, we would pick Oscar de la Renta because we love his use of fabric, texture and colours. He is always reinventing his company and his designs–not to mention, we hear that he is the sweetest man and has a great personality as well.

Bousharo: 5 years from now, Mataano will be?
Mataano: A household name!


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