WeInterview: Haneefah Adam - Hijarbie Creator, Visual Artist and all-round Creative
Honestly, for a second, when I reached out to Hanie for this interview there was a bit of me that thought "Well Kach, hope you know it's okay if she turns you down as she's used to being interviewed by BBC, Reuters etc, plus she's featured on major international publications like CNN and Cosmopolitan".
Obviously, you've figured she was gracious enough to accept. I'm genuinely in awe of Hanie's work so it was only right I try to get into her mind, and get in we sort of did.
From her dream job, to the woman she thinks is 'Life Goals' and what Olympic sport she'll have a fair chance at, it's such a fun and inspiring interview.
I guess Hijarbie means barbie in a hijab. Did you have an Eureka moment when this name hit you?
- Not “moment” per say. I even thought of the name before lifting a finger to sew anything or even buying the doll. But immediately I got the idea and knew i would executing it, that was the first and only name that came to mind due to the nature of the doll I’d be dressing up, so, I combined the hijab and barbie together because that is what she’s all about. A popular doll that is different.
What's the goal for Hijarbie?
- To see it in Tesco - you know, everywhere they sell toys. She could be an ambassador too, I’d like to see that.
Do you first think of an item you want to create and then try to find the materials or you find the materials and it just comes to you?
- The funny thing is, the later is almost always the case. The materials provide the inspiration mostly. If the former occurs, the result is bound to slightly change.
Were you one of those kids who played with their food?
- I didn’t even touch my food. I was such a picky eater. I also didn’t consider making art with food mostly until a few years ago. I did a birthday card with chewing gum in JS3 - it was probably disgusting but I thought it was such a brilliant idea. I actually gave the card out too. *cringes*
Do you think creativity is more nature or nurture?
- It's both nature and nurture. We're more drawn to things we have interest in, I've always known I had a flair for art and creating things. To get better at it and make it add value, just like anything, will require nurturing to make it worthwhile.
What's the earliest thing you remember creating?
- By creating, Do you mean art? Or in fashion? I had plenty firsts. I can't really remember my first drawing but I know I scribbled a lot and kept them for a while. But I do remember my first sculpture and also making dresses from paper first and making a cap from real fabric for my arabic teacher’s baby! I don’t think she ever wore it. Looking back, it was kind of a scrap fabric. Lol.
I know you've worked for brands like Unilever and Hans and Rene. What one brand anywhere in the world, would you like to be an ambassador for?
- Nestle! Pick me, Pick me! Or a camera company, lol. My work heavily depends on the photographic capturing.
What the biggest lesson you took away from studying for a masters degree (Pharmacology and Drug Recovery) in the UK?
- Studying in the UK was such a wonderful experience even if I didn't go out much. I learnt about having a great work ethic. It also opened my eyes to so much untapped opportunities in Africa.
What makes a place home for you? And where do you call home now?
- Where there’s a bed, desk, food and good internet. My home is currently with my family, till I get married, in my studio/ bedroom, that’s where my comfort zone is properly at. I work better from there even though I can work from anywhere.
Have you got a 9-5 job and what does that entail? Is this your dream job? If no, tell us what your dream job is! And what you hope to be doing in the next 5 years.
- I do not want a 9-5 job, I want to create a 9-5 instead. Currently, I sleep late and wake up late, unless there’s an early meeting or something. I also can have a phase of starting work from early as 4am. My dream job is to work for myself, have my own space, create jobs and do things on my terms while I continue to learn, develop myself and grow. Which is what I should be doing in the next five years. Making a lot of money and spoiling my babies.
If you could be a man for one day, you'll be any of this three and why?
- The prophet Muhammad because he’s an epitome of a perfect man. Muhammad Ali, in his prime, he was badass. Leonardo da Vinci, He is an all round genius, I want to get to create my own Mona Lisa too.
You know we love InterEthnic marriages on this blog! If you had to get married to someone other than your ethnic group (Yoruba) where will it be from and why?
- Maybe from like a super minority group so that I can learn a lot, apart from the major ones we have. If we are really looking for a different group, the ethnic group would probably not be in Nigeria.
If you could partake in one Olympic sport that you'll stand a fair chance, what will it be?
- None! I’m terrible at sports.
Fear and safety aside, what adventure/ experience will you totally love to do?
- Skydiving! It is kind of a popular one, I’m not even sure if I am comfortable with heights.Or surfing.
Please complete this using your own words. A woman should never underestimate....?
- Her Power
Ever been subjected to any stereotype just because you're female?
- Let’s start from the hijab I wear, I’ve been called names a few times before. I’d also be honest and say I’ve not really been openly, to my face, subjected to a gender stereotype before.
Asides creating art, you're a Food, Fashion and DIY Blogger. Why did you start blogging and what has been the absolute highlight of your blogging passion?
- I actually created a blog in my extra year in Uni. I’ve had more low-lights than highlights, the most epic is losing all my contents of three years. But the recognition I get and the inspiration I provided to other women and men even through my blog was priceless!
Last 3 songs / albums you downloaded
- I don’t download songs. I don't have them on my phone or laptops. I use YouTube.
What myth or superstition do you secretly believe?
- Accidentally hitting my right leg brings good luck or something. It is actually hard believing in those things really. Lol.
One woman you could possibly look at and say 'Life Goals' and why?
- Beyonce! She’s a very “quiet” celebrity who doesn't really thrive in controversies
When younger girls look at you, what do you hope they see?
- Me, for who I am. I am growing too and I am not even ‘there’ yet. I have struggles and triumphs, failures and successes but I prevail. It’s all about the process, it is all about the journey and striving for the best.
I totally had fun on this interview and I hope you did too! Much more than anything, I hope you're inspired to search inside of you and find what makes you unique and develop it.
I can't be more proud of Hanie for creating the Hijarbie. I firmly believe that representation matters and in this day and age we should still not be exposed to just a certain demographic, in books, movies and toys. Finally, it was almost a relief to hear she isn't great at Sports because for a long time I've asked myself 'what can't Hanie do?'
I tried to curtail myself with the photos people, but I honestly couldn't. So there's more of Hanie's art below (click on the arrows to move).
The Nigerian Food Typography
The Ones with the M&Ms
The Ones with the Almonds
The Ones with the Jollof!
And that's it!
Don't forget to share the post, and check out below the other awesome ladies we've featured.
pS: I love the way these interviews seem to intertwine. Hanie, and Cassie as a fashion bloggers have worn a Twenty Six Skirt from Desola's brand. Like Rayo's love for John Boyega, this time he acknowledged Hanie's art of the Jollof Wars above, via twitter. If you follow Eziaha's blog, you'll know that her and Funto are now really good friends! Love it all.
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