While most of us were getting to grips with the new normal, Marriam Mossali - author and the founder of Saudi's leading luxury communications agency Niche Arabia - chose the lockdown to launch the second edition of Saudi style series Under The Abaya in an empowering webinar that united inspiring women from KSA to LA. Here Marriam gives Grazia an honest account of life as a high-achieving working mother and pioneering trailblazer who won't let coronavirus stand in her way.
How are you finding the transition to a new way of working/life?
Fortunately for me, owning a company whose workforce is predominately millennial, I was forced to assimilate to a more digital workflow even before quarantine. Working from home became an extension of that approach, but it was definitely a departure from the normalcy of our daily brainstorming meetings and account check-ins that often act as a much needed physical anchor. For me personally, what I found surprising was my inability to shut off after “work hours.” I’ve been told I’m a workaholic, but since my son’s birth, I really thought I had improved on my self-discipline and time management. But working from home, I found myself reverting back to my 24-hour girl-boss mode, with my professional and personal worlds bleeding into each other and leaving me extremely exhausted and my son extremely annoyed! In fact, as I type this, he's fighting for my attention and keeps slamming my laptop shut!
What have been the biggest challenges?
My biggest challenge this quarantine has been my urge to purge myself online! It’s easy to forget that just because we’re aren’t physically seeing people, doesn’t mean we have to post every five minutes to remind people - and ourselves, that we still exist. One of my main takeaways this quarantine has been the realisation that content creation is not for everyone. Whether you’re a brand, influencer, or just a mum posting pics of her rooftop garden; you don’t need to go live or open a TikTok account to stay relevant. If I don’t want to watch someone tie-dye their sweat pants, attempt to bake amateur banana bread, or watch an awkward, cringeworthy Instagram live, then the chances are neither do my followers.
What has been the most pleasant surprise?
Honestly, the best thing has been seeing everyone come together - obviously, in a non-literal way, over this whole pandemic. I’ve seen designers helping other designers with manufacturing once the lockdown started, e-commerce stores waiving their normal commission fees, and even, us at Niche Arabia decided to help brands set up their online platforms for free. We wanted to be part of this movement in any way we could. It’s truly amazing to see the local design community come together.
What are your hopes for the future?
I hope that this pandemic can be used for a proper restart of some of the world’s biggest industries, especially fashion. For too long, we have been doing it the wrong way, and at a speed that didn’t allow us to pause and reassess the issues, from eco-friendly and sustainable production to better working conditions and diversity in the workforce; I’m hoping that with a more conscience consumer, comes a more conscience industry. Oh, I also hope that my son grows up knowing what it’s like to touch people.
What message do you have for Grazia readers?
There’s no way right or wrong way to go through a pandemic. Be kind to people, but more so, be kind to yourself. This is an uncertain time for everyone. No one has the answers.
Photos: Lina Qummosani