Local Flair is back, and this time I would like to introduce you to the lovely Nabeela, founder of Biha Designs and creator of beautiful canvas paintings and illustrations that are a must-have decor piece for your home! Read on to find out more about where she gets the inspiration for her designs and how she wishes to take it forward in years to come.
Tell me a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in the UK, and moved to Dubai about 9 years ago with my family (in between which I got married and lived in Zanzibar for a year). I studied Art History at university, worked in the art field for a couple of years, and have always had a passion for art ever since I can remember. Alongside Biha Designs, I work as a digital marketing manager and content creator for clients. I am also an avid foodie, with a blog (beelabakes.com) for which I really enjoy food styling and photography.
Tell me about Biha Designs.
Biha Designs was launched in late 2013. I was inspired by home décor and artists I had seen on Etsy who were mainly based in the States. I really loved the idea of decorating your home with contemporary framed prints and affordable art work which reflected a modern, fun aesthetic, and I felt there wasn’t anything like that in the UAE – it was all either high-end or with a focus on Middle-Eastern design. I also really needed an outlet for my own creativity and felt this was the perfect way.
The name Biha Designs has a very random origin! For the logo I worked with a very lovely designer locally called Reesha from Pret A Papier. I love pink and knew I wanted it to be girly.
What’s the most rewarding part of your business so far?
Anytime someone buys an item of mine, knowing that something I created resonated with them is pretty special – I still voice it to my husband every single time I get a sale! Also hearing feedback when someone loves my work is really encouraging.
What’s been the most frustrating or challenging aspect of your business, and how have you overcome it?
Motivation has always been an issue for me. I am not very consistent in my time management, and to be honest it’s still something I’m working on getting better at! Another challenge has been figuring out how to pack and ship large-scale pieces without them getting damaged along the way.
You do personalised orders, what’s been your most interesting commission to date?
The most interesting was when a lady asked for two large custom abstract paintings in shades of pink that she wanted to decorate her new home with. Although I have been painting large scale works for a while, it was the first time someone had personally commissioned me to do anything of that size and I really enjoyed the process.
Your designs are very contemporary, trend conscious but you also have simplistic Islamic influences. How did this come about?
My work is definitely a reflection of what I personally like and what I would want on my walls through colour, subject and style. I prefer simple, clean designs, and anything feminine, which is what I seek to convey in all my pieces. In addition as a practicing Muslim I wanted pieces to display in my house which balance with this vision and so the Islamic prints are a natural extension of this aesthetic.
How do you find new design inspiration?
I am greatly influenced by colour and the way colours look next to each other, which guides a lot of my designs. As fas as subject matter goes I look at contemporary day-to-day references in the world around me, whether it’s through my favourite Instagram account, a magazine editorial shoot or what is on trend at that moment.
What is the unique trait about your designs?
I think the colours I use (I love pastels!) and the minimalist design aesthetic would have to be what separates me from other similar businesses.
I love the gold foliage on your prints. What materials do you use for your prints and decor pieces and where do you source them from?
Thank you! I am obsessed with gold foil too. I have the prints printed locally on high-quality thick card. The illustrations are usually made with watercolours first and then into prints. For the canvas paintings I use acrylics. I source all my canvases and art materials from art shops here in Dubai, apart from the occasional acrylic colours I have to ask family & friends to get from the UK!
Tell me about a day in your life, as the owner of Biha Designs?
I am quite lucky in the respect that I work from home and so can mostly manage my schedule to my liking. Though this can also have its setbacks too! I try to be up by 8.30 or 9, to make my husband breakfast and see him off. Then I’m either at the gym, running errands or working on digital strategies. I tend to keep my afternoons free for designing and painting. My day usually involves some aspect of photography, whether it’s content creation for digital clients, food styling, or for Biha Designs. Once my husband is back its dinner and a relaxed evening. I usually end my day with something on Netflix or browsing ASOS!
What is your favourite design of all that you have created so far?
It’s really difficult for me to choose as I think each of my designs holds a special place, but currently I am enjoying having the Islamic prints framed in different rooms around the house.
What advice would you give to other women looking to start up their own business in the UAE?
The first thing I would say is to make sure what you want to sell is unique to everything else that is out there already. Secondly I would reach out to someone with a business similar to what you are looking to do and ask them questions. Thirdly social media is your best friend!
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?
I’d like to have naturally evolved my business. I really want to begin concentrating on larger, looser and more abstract style pieces in the near future. Ultimately in the long-term I would love to be a professional painter, selling my pieces and hopefully be exhibiting in small-scale galleries!
Mummy On My Mind’s Opinion
Nabeela was kind enough to send me a couple of the Islamic prints, and I couldn’t adore them more. Her designs are chic, contemporary and a breath of fresh air, and I love that her designs allow me to incorporate Islamic sayings in my home decor with a modern flair. The Biha Designs Instagram page is absolutely gorgeous to look at, and I already have my eyes on a couple more of the fashion conscious prints she has created. The prints are high quality, and the gold foilage is stunning. They also came wrapped up with plenty of protection to ensure the prints are not damaged in transit, which I appreciate highly. If you are looking to spruce up your work space or home decor, I would highly recommend you take a look at Nabeela’s designs.
Thank you so much Nabeela for giving us a deeper insight into your creative work and your valuable tips for other women wishing to start a business.
If you are interested in seeing more of Nabeela’s dreamy prints, head on over to the Biha Designs website: (For Local Customers) www.littlemajlis.com/shop/bihadesigns and (For International Customers) www.etsy.com/shop/bihadesigns
Note: All photographs in this post belong to Biha Designs and have been used by the owner’s permission.