What do you do when what you're looking for isn't available in the market? Do you go to another country to find it? Do you send a relative to another country to find it because you're too cheap to go yourself? Do you whine profusely about how lacking the market is? Well, you could do any of these things, but the better answer is that you get out there and make it yourself. Cairo is bursting with creatives who have gone out in search of something that comes to life in their imaginations only to find it unavailable on/in the Egyptian market. Whether it's a gadget, a goodie, or a garment, there are gaps in the market that can only be filled by the creative endeavours of those who are able to imagine them. That's why when Yasmine El Assar scoured the Egyptian market and couldn't find the clothes to speak her language, she took charge and, letting her imagination run wild, Yanaju Gallery was born.
Living abroad for more than 10 years, from Serbia and Hungary to Colombia, Yasmine El Assar has come across a range of cultural expressions in her life. Having always been fond of fashion as a means of self-expression, her exposure to these cultures left her at a loss upon her return to Egypt, where she couldn't find styles to suit her personality and didn't want to become part of the cookie-cutter culture of people who wear the same things from the same international retailer. "Mass production of international brands is everywhere, and everyone is wearing them," Yasmine tells us. "Even the stuff from abroad is now available to everyone - whether online or through people travelling." Recognising the gap in the market for the eclectically cultured, such as herself, Yasmine began to design her own clothing.
Growing up a bit of a fashionista herself, Yasmine was always attentive to the way she dressed and what she allowed into her wardrobe. When she was unable to find her fashion needs upon her return to Cairo, she opted to open up Yanaju Gallery - however, she didn't want to just be the manager or coordinator; Yasmine wanted to get her hands on some fabric and let her imagination run wild. So, dabbling into the world of design, she learned the concepts and created her own collection, which was very successful. However, it was no walk in the park, she tells us. Designing a collection is very hard work and incredibly time-consuming, Yasmine discovered, which is why she's ever-grateful for the incredible designers who help make Yanaju Gallery a reality.
A shop for all seasons, Yanaju Gallery boasts a wide variety of products to suit the wants and needs of every Egyptian female anywhere between the ages of 20 to 50. Whether you're veiled or not, whether you prefer something conservative or edgy, you'll find it at Yanaju Gallery, Yasmine tells us. There's something unique about every design available at Yanaju Gallery. Why? Yasmine's gallery is home to 10 designers, each with a unique perspective and with design ideas coming to life from their own imaginations. That means that every article of clothing available at Yanaju Gallery is unique and inspired, from the minds of designers each with a particular taste. So, who are these awesome designers?
While Yasmine herself is busy running the show, having learned what it takes to design and create a collection of her own, her trusty team of designers create the marvellous pieces available at her gallery. Before opening the gallery, she had already arranged with stylish Egyptian designers to bring in their collections, as well as displaying her own collections. However, there's a story behind some of the other designers involved at Yanaju Gallery. Yasmine herself is a stay-at-home mother of three who was looking to work without being restricted to her office hours so she can care for her children. As we've discovered at this point, when Yasmine El Assar wants something, she does it herself. Not only that, she then shares it with the world. So, in typical Yasmine El Assar fashion, many of her designers at Yanaju Gallery are stay-at-home moms, much like herself, who have a talent they would like to pursue but are not given the opportunity to build a name for themselves.
Unique to Yanaju Gallery, aside from its designs, is that it offers custom tailoring for each unique design. If a client finds a piece that she likes but would like it personally tailored to meet a certain need - sleeves, perhaps - Yasmine's gallery will do the adjustments. We're used to seeing this where a piece is tailor-made from the beginning, but custom tailoring pieces of a unique collection upon purchase - this is new. Adding to the edge of Yasmine's gallery is that all of her designs are available to be ordered online through Facebook, Instagram, and Slickr.
So far, Yanaju Gallery is open in Mohandeseen. Again, in typical Yasmine fashion, she intends on opening a gallery in 6th of October, as most concept stores are usually found in Heliopolis or Mohandeseen. Hoping to expand her client base and offer her products to those situated outside of Cairo's core, Yanaju Gallery is well on its way to expansion. Yanaju Gallery is, foremost, a place of opportunity. It gives its clients opportunities to wear designs that are one-of-a-kind in the Egyptian market - each one a limited edition - and to tailor the pieces to meet their personal needs. Diving further into Yasmine El Assar's vision, Yanaju Gallery provides otherwise unattainable opportunities to stay-at-home mothers to work hard and have their talents noticed, establishing names for themselves and making an income while caring for their families.
Check out Yanaju Gallery on Facebook
, or drop by and see for yourself at 75 Al-Hussein St in Mohandeseen.
Photos produced exclusively for CairoScene by @MO4Network's #MO4Fashion
Photography: Lobna Derbala
Styling/art direction: Gehad Abdallah
Makeup: Aisha Taha
Hair: Kriss Beauty Salons
Location: The Edwards
Model: Noha Aboulfadl
Fashion coordinator: Yasmine Abdel Bary
Assistant producer: Reem Amin