Featured Mum: Zeynab El-Helw (Fashion Pirate)
Zeynab El-Helw is one of the region’s most prominent fashion entrepreneurs with her popular blog and online boutique Fashion Pirate. As the name implies, there is an edge to Zeynab’s effortless, street glam style that resonates with her audience across the Middle East, Europe, and the US. A Central St. Martins fashion graduate with two master’s degrees in marketing and international business management, Zeynab has worked with brands, such as Hublot, Richard Mille, Chopard, Claudie Pierlot, Baume & Mercier, HP, Michael Kors, and Fendi. Three months ago, her son Luca was born and she talks to us about navigating the early days of motherhood in true Fashion Pirate style.
Did you always love fashion as a child?
I have always been passionate about personalising and customising my clothing and playing around with different outfits. My earliest fashion memory was cutting up mine and my twin brothers’ tops and combining the fabrics. I would stitch and add all kinds of bits to create funky styles. I also used to dive into my mum’s wardrobe and prance around in oversized clothing and accessories, experimenting with pretty much anything I could get my hands on!
How did you turn your blog from a hobby into a successful retail business?
I was in a full-time corporate position with a high-end luxury brand and spent my evenings writing a blog. Eventually, after five years with the brand, I decided to challenge myself and set up on an online e-commerce platform in parallel with social media. I plan to focus on it more next year once I have had some time to settle in after having a baby.
Has running your own business given you more flexibility as a new mum? Or is it even more challenging?
It definitely is more challenging. I am still trying to find my bearings as it’s only been a few months and every day I’m learning the ropes and facing new situations. There is no routine at such an early stage, so I’m embracing every minute of it all.
What has been your favourite bit of motherhood so far?
Luca is everything I could have wished for and more. I never imagined myself as a mum and here I am today. I spent the first seven weeks in London with Luca and we just got back to Dubai last month. All I can say is time is flying.
How has life changed since having a child?
It has changed in the sense that I don’t have any time to travel at this stage and we haven’t managed to achieve a routine yet as it’s still very early. Therefore, daily life is completely different for me, but I know that over time everything will fall into place and I’ll be able to plan my days better.
Has your fashion and beauty routine changed?
Yes!! I am currently living in leggings as they’re the easiest form of clothing to slip into. As for beauty, I’m still following the same regime as I used to, but I don’t have time for the extras, like face masks and facials for now.
What advice would you give to first-time mums?
Know that it’s something so unexplainably beautiful, demanding, overwhelming, and hands-on, all at the same time. It’s ok to have good days and bad days, it’s ok not to understand everything, it’s ok to learn along the way. At the end of the day, you have created a little human being that is developing so rapidly and needs you. There is no time to be fully ready. Someone once told me to wait until he smiles; that feeling you will experience is like no other and that’s the stage I am at right now. He smiles, I melt. He makes me forget everything else.
How did you first hear about banking stem cells?
I heard about it through friends and family then decided to research more about it. I believe in the science behind it all and the more I read, the more I was intrigued to find out more.
Why did you decide to bank your son’s stem cells?
The simple fact is that we don’t know what to expect in life and I would like to give my son as many options as opportunities as possible.
Is stem cell storage something you would recommend to others?
Absolutely, I think it’s important to recommend it to others and share the information to hopefully save more lives. Stem cells are helping with many new possibilities for medical therapies.