Making Of Tahoor: A Journey From Big Brands To Self-discovery

Making Of Tahoor: A Journey From Big Brands To Self-discovery

Hanium Maria Chowdhury is the Founder and mind behind beautiful fashion brand Tahoor. She graduated from North South University in Applied Linguistics and started off her career as a teacher. After a while she worked at PLAN, as a Communications Coordinator, and then she joined Asiatic. At Asiatic Hanium worked for 3 and half years where she headed the PR team. Hanium had no obstacles when it came to beginning a career in multinational corporations with big salaries, yet her story of transformation is not only incredible, but also incredibly inspiring.

Hanium was passionate about fine arts during her school days in Sunny Dale, but at that time there were hardly any faculty of that stature who could train interested students in art for higher studies. Moreover, Hanium’s mother wanted to secure her a stable future. However, she kept up with her passion and joined the photography and painting club at NSU. Painting, drawing and art used to be her passion as a child and as a teenager. In a life you can only see the connection between disconnected dots backward. It works alike for Hanium too. Her passion for arts helped Hanium in her journey of self-discovery.

As the head of PR at Asiatic, she worked with several big brands, Airtel, Robi, Marico, Lafarge, CEMEX, and Kaya Skin Clinic. She launched a number of today’s renowned brands in different sectors, worked in the brand building; grew contacts and peers of such high ranks and corporations. With her amiable personality she was capable of blending with any given environment and Asiatic was not an exception either. It was like her family.

Recently, I got a chance to sit with Hanium and we talked about her passion, journey of transformation and mostly, making of her clothing brand Tahoor. Tahoor happens to one of the few brands that offer modest clothing options with a sense of style and it was only because the brand came to existence as part of her own transformation. Let’s dive into that journey.

Tahoor 01What Happens Inside Shows On Outside

For Hanium the turning point in her career came about when she had her twins in 2011. Hanium’s extremely glamorous and busy career life had started to take a drag when she realized she was falling short to give her new born kids the time and attention they required. The fear of having to lose the experience of their kids’ childhood, the most precious moments in the life of a parent, was a feeling that made Hanium to take a life-changing decision. Hanium realized she was spending more time with her career-family than with her home-family. But it was least of thing she wanted.

The high society and demanding lifestyle that her work life entailed, was no more what Hanium wanted for herself. With the birth of her kids Hanium started to view the same old world around her differently! This change landed her into a different world, where she was not only thinking about herself, but also of her family, for whom she was responsible. Now she required a change, and that change required a transformation of her current lifestyle, practices, and friends. She noticed and experienced the struggle and real life problems her peers were going through.

That’s when Hanium came to realize her life had gone off balance. Her own identity struggles in reconciling conflicting visions and values with a rapidly changing world led Hanium to recognize that she could start the self-mending process with herself, and also with the grooming and nurturing of her children so that they too have the correct learning to face the outer world. There was no need to appear as the “supermom” to the world, as Hanium terms it, handling a glamorous job and home together. It was more important to be a mother to her babies. She soon realized, the world around and its challenges could not be changed, but it was surely possible for her to change the world inside her so that the family is better equipped to face them in future.

“As a woman I have the capacity to change the world inside my home where my children will grow up. Kids were the first changing factor in my life. They completely changed my life.” Hanium began to enlighten herself spiritually starting with the reading and studying of Qur’an, attending lectures and found herself increasingly in peace with herself the more she practiced and understood Islam. Even her peer groups changed.
This is when Tahoor happened.

A straight life does not make good story. Our life does not change when we are in peace, it changes when we encounter challenges and problems that are bigger than life itself. It changes when we choose to be adamant and make the choice when it is difficult to make one.

Tahoor 03Making Of Tahoor: A story of manifestation of inner revolution

Gradually, she took up the hijab, and began a journey of change first with herself. People began to take notice of the way she carried herself, and would be curious to know how she designed her clothes. Inspired from the interest of others in her attire, Hanium undertook this initiative to help the urban young women of Dhaka, who wear hijab or abaya, find a part of their identity by designing modest and elegant clothing for them. She worked around the philosophy that by graceful, fashionable, and artistic Islamic attire, one could also inspire and encourage other non-practicing women.

Tahoor is Hanium’s way of helping the city women, facing similar struggles as Hanium did, find a way of presenting themselves gracefully while maintaining their faith and identity. Thus, Tahoor seeks to redefine the misunderstood way many in Bangladesh tend to interpret Islamic attire.

Tahoor has a beautiful meaning that underpins the vision of the startup – ‘‘purity, completing the incomplete, and quenching the thirst’’, Hanium explains. Tahoor describes its mission as“Modest modern Muslim apparel for urban ladies”. “I have always wanted to build my brand. To provide modest clothing to the secular society, was the philosophy behind Tahoor”, says Hanium. “Giving modest Muslim apparel to metropolitan and cosmopolitan women of the city” is the core positioning of Tahoor. Hanium jokes on it, “My mission is to ‘dhakafy’ [cover up] Dhaka’’.

Often those who wish to take the hijab are discouraged by simplistic judgments that society makes. Hanium thought to herself, “Why not I present the hijab in a way so that it is alluring to younger women at the same time she feels confident in society, wherever she goes”. She does not have to feel any less of herself for her hijab, in addition to the preconceived notions that she already has to face from others regarding her personality and values for such wearing an attire.

Tahoor is Hanium’s way of helping the city women, facing similar struggles as Hanium did, find a way of presenting themselves gracefully while maintaining their faith and identity. Thus, Tahoor seeks to redefine the misunderstood way many in Bangladesh tend to interpret Islamic attire.

Since its beginning in 2012, Tahoor has been successful in grabbing consumers from all walks of life, with different fashions and styles, and of different ages (from teenagers, to young adults, and mothers, and also elderly), with different product ranges, such as, casual, formal, party or festival wear, and much more. They are customized according to the needs of customers, and there are also ready-made attires available in store from where one can choose.

Every Great Journey Starts From Almost Zero: Product, Growth And Diversification

From January 2013 to March 2014, Hanium ran her store in a room from her home, but eventually moved to her own store space at a convenient place in Panthapath, from where she is able to take care of her home and children. This year, Tahoor also launched a store in Banani. Tahoor has its own factory and workers who design the clothes, and has gained a considerable amount of attention even from international consumers within a very short time of its existence. “A lot of people want to take Tahoor abroad. But Tahoor is still small and growing”, says Hanium modestly.

Her passion for arts, painting, and designing was eventually channeled in this way, through Tahoor. “I think Tahoor is here because of its branding. My experience and learning in advertising and PR helped me immensely. I have helped make such big brands, why couldn’t I make my own?”

The product line of Tahoor includes Abayas, Cloaks, Shrugs, Scarves, Inner caps, Hand Sleeves, Pull-over Hijabs, Loose Trousers, Loose Top, Kurtas, Kaftans, Party wear, Anarkalis, and Lehengas. Some concepts/albums include: casuals, mystical melodies, Tahoor Summer, Tahoor Winter, Tahoor Srping, Contemporary & Vintage, and Epitome of Elegance.

From January 2013 to March 2014, Hanium ran her store in a room from her home, but eventually moved to her own store space at a convenient place in Panthapath, from where she is able to take care of her home and children. This year, Tahoor also launched a store in Banani. Tahoor has its own factory and workers who design the clothes, and has gained a considerable amount of attention even from international consumers within a very short time of its existence.

“We want people to project ourselves as a trusted brand. So that when people think of abayas they think of Tahoor. When she is buying from Tahoor, it means it matters to her. So we try to make our personnel that well-trained who can deliver that experience to our customers. We also give advice and recommendations in-person to our customers who want their wardrobe to be unique and customized, and make it only for them, and that is part of our way to meet the satisfaction of our customers wants and needs in the best way”, says Hanium. Hanium, and her managers, work hard every day to make the experience for the customers very personal, convenient, and satisfying.

There You Find

Tahoor has their own Facebook page which is the primary medium of promotion, communication, and advertisement currently. They also host events and fairs. They are looking forward to launching their own website, and diversify the product line with more apparels and outfits that addresses a wide range of consumer needs.

Credit: Interview by Rounak Ahmed for Future Startup, Edited by Ruhul Kader, Images by Tahoor.

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