Sara Nezhad

Sara Nezhad is a very creative artist with a background in sculpting, Persian arts and interior design. She worked as a sculptor for several years before accidentally falling into the world of fashion, design and production. She now designs and sells her own unique leather handbags.

Let’s talk about the reason why and how you got involved with the world of fashion, specifically designing handbags.

I accidentally wandered into a leather market once, where I saw a piece of leather that I liked. I bought it and made a small bag, which everyone found strange.

Almost all my friends were constantly asking me where I got my bag from and the moment I told them I had designed and made the mini bag myself, they got astonished. This inspired me to start designing and making bags full-time.

What was your first step in launching your brand? Was it the same leather bag that inspired you to start, or did something else happen?

My first design turned into a sale which led me to receive orders after that. As a matter of fact, the leather shop incident gave me the chance to experience the process of making a purse. As soon as I made my first purse, I got orders and customers for my bag. I always enjoyed fashion, but not for myself. For example, I used to design my own clothes, but I knew that if I wanted to start a business and turn my passion into a career, I needed to focus on one product. I decided that bags were the perfect product for me because they were versatile and could be worn by people of all ages and styles.

Do you work only in the bag production and design line?

For now, I would say yes but I am thinking about designing clothes such as dresses and etc. I have always had a passion for fashion, sewing, making these purses and more or less stepping out of my comfort zone.

Was your brand called Madam Lulu from the start?

Yes, it was always Madam Lulu from the start. I have always liked the story of “Lilith” but due to the fact that the story is frowned upon, because of its negative tones, some people might have called my brand immoral if it was named “Lilith” even though that’s the name I would have preferred. So, I came up with the name “Lulu” which, in my opinion, was really close to “Lilith.” Lulu seemed a bit harsh at first, so I changed it to Madam Lulu to make it sound a bit more feminine and elegant. I have had this brand for almost 4 years now and have sold approximately 500 bags in these 4 years.

What is your perspective on the fashion industry, and how do you analyze it as someone who works as a designer in this industry?

I believe that the world is becoming increasingly cruel, and that emotions and feelings are disappearing. This is one of the reasons why I decided to design bags with dog motifs. Dogs are a symbol of loyalty and love, and I wanted to use my art to express these emotions again. I also believe that people’s thirst for beauty and emotion is increasing. I believe that the world is moving towards a more materialized world; Thus, it is consumer-oriented and people don’t really pay attention to the meaning behind the fashion products. Maybe it is because people want to show off their wealth on social media and this actually hurts.

Do you think that the purchase of accessories has increased in recent years? In the past, a person's bag was primarily used to carry their belongings, but now I believe that it is also seen as a fashion accessory. What are your thoughts on this?

During these past few years, the function of bags has absolutely changed and has taken a drastic shift. People used to carry handbags around in order to fi t their belongings inside so that they could use their hands freely. It is good to know that women’s jeans and pants had very small pockets and that’s why the first handbag was made. People are drawn to accessories, and one of my best-selling works is a series of bags that do not fi t anything inside. This suggests that people are more interested in the bags as accessories than as functional containers.

Do you only work and sell your bags in Iran?

Yes, I sell inside Iran, but I have many customers outside of Iran too. Most of my foreign customers are from the US. They usually see a friend carrying my designs and get drawn to them. So basically, the process of acquisition happens in a chain. I am looking forward to expanding my brand and making it well-known in the UAE, France and The United States.

Do you use any social media platforms in order to promote your work? What is your point of contact with your customers?

My brand grew mostly through word- of-mouth, but I also did a little bit of traditional advertising. I like to keep things traditional when it comes to advertising. I work through Instagram and several art shops in Iran to exhibit my designs.

I have been advised to place my work in a few art shops in Dubai, which I have not done yet. However, Dubai is moving towards handmade products, and I believe my products would be a good fi t.

I believe that the dog and cat designs are not your only designs, but I think they are among your best-selling items, correct?

Yes, they are my signature work. The story is that I have loved dogs since I was a child and I always wanted my dog to be with me and due to family circumstances, I could never have a dog. By having this purse, I know that I will always have my dog beside me; No matter what! These designs are eternal.

What are your thoughts on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the fashion industry? Do you use AI in your business, and if so, how? Do you see AI as a threat or an opportunity for the fashion industry?

I believe that artificial intelligence (AI) could create wonderful designs, but I do not think that AI-designed products would have the same emotional impact as those designed by humans. I do not see AI as a threat, as I believe that these developments are for the benefit of humanity. However, I have not used AI in my own designs, as I prefer to work in a traditional way.

I believe that there is still value in human creativity and craftsmanship, and I want to continue to create products that reflect those values. If I want to tell you about the process of making a “Madam Lulu” bag, it might be seen as a very easy and simple process, but it is very difficult in real life.

This bag has a very simple cardboard pattern, which the leathers are cut according to. The next step would be sewing, and at the end of this process, the accessories that have been worked on would then be installed by hand. It can be sewn. Also, the leathers I use for these designs are very hard to fi nd.