HANDBAG DESIGNER LAYLA SHRUGI DISCUSSES HER LATEST CREATIONS FOR LYA LYA, HOW DUBAI IS THE CITY THAT INSPIRES HER THE MOST, AND WHY QUALITY IS SO IMPORTANT.
Layla Shrugi is the designer behind luxury handbag brand LYA LYA. While she is of Lebanese and Russian decent, Layla is now based in Dubai and looks to the architecture and environment around her for inspiration.
LYA LYA’s bags are defined by architectural designs, geometric shapes and bold silhouettes, as well as a recognisable vulture motif that is embellished onto may of the key designs. Layla chooses to play with hard and soft concepts, exploring animal instincts, and creating statement pieces that a woman will be proud to carry. Quality is very important to her and she prides herself on sourcing the best materials and using the best processes to ensure her designs capture absolute luxury. Here Layla discusses her latest collections as well as her motivations as a business woman and entrepreneur.
What qualities should a woman have to manage her own company?
A life experience in any field and being inquisitive about all aspects of life is fundamental for business owners. Knowing your business inside out and always adapting to change. Also you must be organised and have continuous self-motivation. and a long-term plan and a vision. See it, believe and it will come.
What would you say are the highlights of your professional career so far?
I won the award for Best Arab Talent at the Arab Women Awards in Dubai six months after debuting my first collection. The continuous support that I receive through messages from clients and the compliments they get wearing them is always uplifting. And finally, being able to sell my handbags internationally in the top department stores next to other luxury handbag designers.
What is the most difficult challenge you face as a designer?
The hardest thing that I face continuously is to maintain designing pieces that derive from pure internal inspiration and creativity and not from the constant exposure to trends, social media and other sources.
How would you describe the identity of LYA LYA?
LYA LYA’s identity revolves around the unique customised metal work that we do. This makes it stand out from the crowd and creates curiosity about the brand. Our designs are unique, powerful and every piece is a statement of its own.
What can you tell us about your latest collection?
My latest collection continues to be inspired by my fascination with the vulture and its characteristics. It has a sharpness and edginess with the introduction of smaller pieces to reflect current trends. The pack handbag is the perfect day to evening bag for the busy woman. It has its sharp legs and is one of the new additions to the vulture family.
For who do you create your designs?
I design for the woman I aspire to be. A confident, powerful, woman that stands out in the crowd. Someone that does not follow fashion trends but creates them.
What is the best piece of best you have received?
It would be a quote that my dad continuously used; “reach for the moon and you may fall on a star.” It is something I live by and believe that nothing is impossible and to always aim high.
What advice would you give to someone wanted to launch their own brand?
Believe in yourself and you will achieve. Make sure to do your research and create a unique concept even if it is for a niche market. Be true to your aesthetic so that you can maintain it and have longevity in this highly competitive business.
How do you balance your work and family life?
I believe to achieve your full potential and happiness you have to have a balanced life where every aspect is covered. From work, to family and friends. My family is my top priority and quality time is key in our life. Quality versus quantity is what matters, and at work being productive and managing your time smartly makes all the difference.
Are there any places that inspire you?
Since most of my designs are derived from geometrical shapes and architectural structures, there is no place for me to get inspired like Dubai. It has an abundance of new breathtaking architectural projects.
What motto do you follow in life?
Learn from your mistakes as our own mistakes are our best teacher.
Which books would you recommend for aspiring entrepreneurs?
I get a lot of my inspiration in life through the books that I read. Apart from soul searching books, I definitely recommend The Power of Positive Thinking, Who Moved My Cheese? and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Are you considering expanding the brand’s products?
Yes definitely. Eventually I would love to create a full accessory line. I also always get asked if I will be adding some men’s accessories which is definitely something I am considering.
What are your goals for 2019?
My ultimate goal for 2019, is to penetrate more markets and expand LYA LYA in key department stores.
By Charline Deek
You can find LYA LYA at lya-lya.com, Harvey Nichols Dubai, O Brand, Kuwait, and Galleries Lafayette, Qatar.