So what exactly is minimanama?
I like to think of minimanama as a mini travelling souk. I have always been into style but I was always more drawn to finding unique and beautiful things than to fashion magazines or trend spotting. I also love dressing up and find every excuse to put on a costume. So I guess it was always something of a fantasy to have my own travelling shop where I can share beautiful things and play dress up with my customers.
Why and when did you set things up?
We set things up around November of 2014 – very recently! It was all a bit of a whirlwind and largely due to support from my good friend Khalil Rasool and the Boho Baha team who really encouraged me to start a stall. He asked if I could bring some of what he described as my ‘quirky style’ to Farmfest and minimanama was born.
What kinds of items do you sell and where do you get everything from?
We sell a variety of stuff – some handmade and some sourced from various suppliers. The kimonos are handmade by my mother, the tees are screen-printed by hand in Bahrain and tie-dyed by my friend Mohammed. I think my favourite pieces currently in stock are the masks, which are vintage, old stock from a shop in the souk. I love exploring the Manama souk – there’s so much amazing vintage, old stock gathering dust, barely visible behind piles of junk. It’s the real inspiration behind minimanama. I always aim to have items from the souk at the stall but I’ve recently been to Singapore so I’m excited to share some costume pieces I picked up over there.
We love your series of Bahrain city T-shirts. Where did you get the inspiration for these?
These are a collaboration with two friends – Ryan Andrews and Christiaan Faberij de Jonge. The idea actually came to us at a dinner party. Christiaan, a film maker, had just moved to Umm Al Hassam and was commenting on how many creative people live so close to him. We joked about how it was becoming a hipster neighbourhood – the Dalston or Williamsburg of Bahrain. This led to an hour-long conversation about other places here, connecting each place with places in cities we had lived in or spent time in. Some connections were hilarious, others made perfect sense and we wanted to share them with people. The classic New York, London, Paris, Tokyo tee seemed like the perfect vehicle to do this so we used that as inspiration.
We think they make the best Bahrain souvenirs.
I’m glad you think they’re great souvenirs! We don’t really see them that way – we like how local people connect with the tees. Residents of Bahrain find it funny to compare these tiny areas, which they are familiar with, to big, well-known cities but, at the same time, it’s about cherishing these tiny places just as much as we cherish the big cities that we visit.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your day job? What are you doing here in Bahrain?
I’m Bahraini and although I was born in Singapore, where my mum is from, I grew up here. I’ve lived here for most of my life – aside from four years in the UK and another four in New York City. I work as an operations consultant and, although I enjoy what I do, minimanama provides a welcome creative outlet.
You’ve only just started things up, but where do you see minimanama going in the near future?
I’d like to keep going with my mini souk and take it around the various markets popping up all over the island – who knows, maybe even elsewhere in the Gulf.
In terms of solid plans, we have already designed some beach vests just in time for the warmer weather – I guess you can call it our Spring/Summer 2015 collection.
Visit www.minimanama.com, follow their instagram account @_minimanama_ or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find a selection of designs at Dukkan3 in Al Riwaq Art Space, Adliya (1771 7441).