Two lady entrepreneurs open “boutique with a meaning “
Modest dresses with a modern twist – and good advice – are offered in the new Mbweni boutique Doll House.
The moment you step in, you are in a comfort zone. A light and airy feeling prevails at Doll House Boutique. Rahima, one of the two lady proprietors, asks me to take a seat in a cosy lounge corner with beige sofas while my gaze wonders over two rows of exquisite, yet casual dresses for any occasion. “Some of our designs are made here, others we import ready-made from Turkey, UK and India”, Rahima Hasham explains to me. The 24-year-old, who returned to Zanzibar after getting married, runs the new fashion house together with her partner Khaytnam Turky, 36.
Two young men enter, looking a bit lost in the female realm, one of them mumbling, he wants a “surprise dress” for his girlfriend. “What is she like?”, asks Rahima, “what colours does she wear?” Colours? The guy looks as if he doesn’t have the faintest idea. But no problem. In the end he opts for a shirt-style, knee-long dress with happy stripes that may just look fabulous on a woman of any size or shape.
“Comfortable yet stylish, a bit modest, with a touch of conservative”, Rahima describes the dress concept to me. “Anything goes, but no bling-bling”, she emphasizes laughing. Khaytnam joins our conversation by video call from Dar. The two women met in Zanzibar and instantly became friends when Rahima, who was born in Dubai and raised in Canada, came back to the home of her parents. They decided to open a boutique together: “Find your personality in a dress”, Khaytnam explains their philosophy. Neatly framed posters on white walls emphasise the aspiration. They read: “Find your own kind of beautiful” and “We rise by lifting others”.
For this year’s Ramadan – due around mid-April to mid-May – Doll House is preparing a special collection of kaftans with a touch of elegance in sophisticated colours. Rahima and Khaytnam are sure “Zanzibar women will dress up for the occasion” (see box on the right).
To compliment their boutique the two women have started what they refer to as “Rakha Talks”, a monthly series of female talk sessions and workshops dealing with topics such as “self esteem” or “relationships.” Getting together in the peaceful surroundings of the shop, sharing experiences and challenges has already proven “very rewarding”, the organisers say. “All of us need a safe space to express ourselves and gain insights into matters of our daily life”, they reiterate. And while I slip into one of their comfy long viscose dresses, light as a summer breeze, I perfectly understand the motto ”Look fabulous, feel empowered” – and why fashion and feelings actually do go hand-in-hand.
The holiest month of the Islamic calendar is celebrated from mid-April to mid-May this year. During the time of fasting and spiritual reflection business slows down as families come together for the breaking of the fast, or iftar, in the evening. Eid al Fitr marks the end of the months with festivities and presents. Just like Christmas for Christians, Ramadan is a very special time for Muslims the world over. Doll House proprietors Rahima and Khaytnam in Zanzibar are prepared: “Women want to celebrate this special time with new outfits and make-ups. Last years, due to Corona, many restricted themselves to the inner circle of the family. Even if that is the same this year, women like to feel different during Ramadan.” The Doll House Boutique is offering a special collection for the occasion.
Doll House Boutique
Mbweni Rd, Zanzibar
Ph. +255 779 222 111
+255 774 052 548