Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Interview | Saara Jappie-Adams - Minimal Exposure Blog

Peace be upon you to everyone! I hope that you are all having a wonder week thus far. And Muharram Mubarak to you all! I hope that we can all reflect on our attitudes this past year,  rethink, and begin to turn the wheels for positive change within ourselves, much like the age old new years resolutions. This should apply to us all, all year round, although I guess a new year represents new beginnings and a perfect time to try to implement change. 

I am so excited to bring you yet another inspiring women, our very own home grown blogger Saara Jappie-Adams from Minimal Exposure. We are so blessed be a tiny part of her life as she blogs. I bring to you, her inspiring and thought provoking interview.

1. Could you start off by telling us a bit about your blog please?

Minimal Exposure is my personal style blog where I share my love for all things fashion, particularly hijabi fashion, photography and anything that piques my interest.

2. How long have you been blogging?

I started Minimal Exposure just over a year ago and without a clue on how to go about it all. Alhamdulillah the response towards the blog has been a positive one.

3. Why did you start blogging?  And why do you continue to do it?

When I started wearing my hijab a few years back, it was a daunting experience with regards to how I was going to start covering myself more appropriately without looking like I had aged about 20 years! At that time “hijabi fashion” wasn’t a well-known term. That makes me sound like a fossil but really that was only about six years ago. At the time there were little to no modest fashion blogs, no Pinterest or Instagram, so finding inspiration was a lot harder to come by. And I really could have done with some help and tips. Over the years I received lots of encouragement from females about the way I covered myself, with the main response being “you still look fashionable/stylish!” Before Dian and Dina, we never equated modest wear with being fashionable, just frumpy and “oud tyds”.  And then a lot more people started referring to the scarf as a “hijab” instead of “doekie/doek”. It was fast becoming something we were proud to wear. I worked at a boutique store for four years in Cavendish Square and a lot of women would come up to me saying they loved the way I wrapped my scarf and asked how I did it. They also enquired about where or how I was able to find suitable clothing as everything available in stores was not very appealing. After much consideration, weighing up the pros and cons, procrastinating – story of my life – I finally started my little blog with the aim of inspiring at least one female to either start wearing the hijab, encouraging them to play around with what’s in their wardrobe. Making the journey a little easier. I continue to blog for this reason. I love hearing about a woman’s journey towards wearing the hijab and how you’ve inspired them in some small way. It is really encouraging. I also get a kick out of sharing with my readers, new modest wear designers that I have discovered online. It really helps to drive home the idea that modest can be beautiful and stylish. There are so many hijabi blogs around right now, yet each one is unique in their sense of style, their interests and backgrounds. The more the merrier!

4. Other than being a blogger, what do you do for a living?

I work in the Quality Control department for one of the biggest clothing retailers in Africa! It is an admin-based job, yet it is very interesting as I work alongside garment technologists and the fabric testing laboratory. It might seem boring to some, but I love learning about the capabilities of different types of fabrics and how they affect the final garments. I studied Textile design, so while my current position is not a very creative one, gaining exposure to the Fabric Technology side of things is just as exciting!

5. What Job would you most like to do if you could and why?

My dream job would consist of me running my own textile printing studio. From designing, colour mixing, printing and then making up the fabric into garments or household textiles. Although it is more labour intensive, I would strictly use silk screens as there’s nothing more magical than when you’ve pulled that ginormous squeegee across your screen, only to lift up the screen off the flatbed to reveal your freshly printed design. It’s the best!

6. What affects you, creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Being a visual person I am inspired by beautiful imagery, whether it evokes melancholy or happiness. New places and experiences. Traveling. If I could afford it, I would definitely like to travel more. I’d stay in my match box house forever if I could travel the world! I love experiencing different cultures and meeting people from all walks of life. Not that I’ve traveled extensively at all but I find it truly enriching.

7. I absolutely agree! How would you describe your fashion sense?

It could be described as having a bit of a split personality! I love busy, detailed and colourful items of clothing just as much as I love a classic and well-tailored garment. I tend to find myself somewhere in the middle, usually resulting in a simple silhouette with just enough detailed pieces to keep things interesting. I would cite Sofia Coppola, Cate Blanchett, Katherine Hepburn, Ulyana Sergeenko and Francoise Hardy as my style inspirations.

8. Who is your favorite fashion designer and which fashion designer would you say lends more towards modest wear?

It’s hard to pick just one! In terms of print and embellishment it’s Mary Katrantzou, Naeem Khan and Manish Arora. My favorite fashion designers are Haider Ackerman, Ulyana Sergeenko, Christian Dior, Valentino and Victoria Beckham – never thought I would say that but she has really grown on me as a designer. Her designs are elegant, simple but never boring. I am a sucker for subtle detailing and excellent tailoring. In the same breath, I am just as crazy about wild prints and opulence. I loved Dolce & Gabbana’s recent collections. Gustav Klimt is one of my favorite artists and besides D&G’s obvious Sicilian influences, I found their designs very reminiscent of Klimt’s work. Well, at least for me. The designer I would say lends more towards modest wear is Valentino. I find the silhouettes of their garments less form fitting and the overall look very demure and elegant.

9. What is your everyday hijab style and which is your favorite?

During the week I tend to favour a very simple style for work, nothing too complicated. On weekends I usually play around with different looks. My favorite style would have to be the Vela wrap style – I have shared the tutorial on my blog –It’s a square scarf with a single knot that sits on the side of your neck. The style is very easy to achieve, requires only one safety pin and it is really elegant.

10.  When did you start wearing Hijab?

I made the conscious decision to start wearing my scarf in 2007. It was a slow progression. I started off with what I felt most comfortable at the time, which was the turban. Then I started covering my neck. At the same time my sleeves and lengths of my tops and dresses became longer. My pants and jeans became looser. Until I reached the point where I didn’t leave the house without my scarf, and also when strange men came to our house I would cover then too. It has been a journey, I’m not able to say that I have never taken it off because I didn’t always have “good days”. And I can’t say I’ll never take it off because you don’t know what the state your Imaan will be in, in a year or in 10 years’ time. We humans are prone to err, but I do hope that I never take it off, that I will always try to be modest in my demeanor and dress sense. That’s why it is so important not too judge others or think little of someone just because they’re not covered. Wearing the hijab or dressing modestly doesn’t make you a saint and neither does not wearing one make you a sinner. Only Allah knows what it is in our hearts.

11.  What made you start wearing hijab?

My decision came about as I approached my final year at CPUT. I felt that I had lost my way a little with regards to my faith as a result of student life and everything that came with it. Not that I was a crazy party animal, I was quite the opposite actually but I felt my priorities needed some rearranging. Alhamdulillah only good came from that decision.

12.  How does wearing Hijab make you feel?

Not oppressed that’s for sure! I chose to wear my scarf. Because I had researched, read, understood the wisdom and learnt about the beauty of dressing modestly and wearing the hijab. It just made so much sense. As Muslims, our purpose is to please our Creator – in a nutshell – as it is where our reward lies. One of the things I came to realize is that I would rather look “dowdy” in my long tunic to please Allah rather than trying to please everyone else. It’s very liberating. Since I have worn the hijab, I found that a lot more people greet you and treat you with respect and it doesn’t only come Muslims. Personally, I also believe that the hijab only adds to one’s beauty. Have you ever seen a woman who doesn’t look beautiful in hijab?

13.  How did wearing hijab affect peoples reaction to you?

Well at varsity I had an equal amount of Muslim and non-Muslim friend and they were so supportive about it, Alhamdulillah. My non-Muslim friends were curious about why I had started wearing it; why other females didn’t wear it and questioned why men didn’t cover up too. And I was only too happy to try and explain it to the best of my ability. With my Muslim friends who didn’t cover, not once did they make me feel uncomfortable or joke about taking it off for just one night. Just as I never tried to force my views on them. It was a mutual respect. Wearing the scarf didn’t suddenly make me better than everyone else. I can’t really recall if anyone had been “funny” with me. I have grown a thicker skin since wearing my hijab, if there are any negative reactions they would go unnoticed, as I am not here to please people. Only my Creator.
14.  What would you say are the benefits of wearing hijab?

Everyone benefits from it differently but I would say people are more respectful towards you. Also the sense of unity it brings to Muslim sisters. If you’re struggling with it, usually someone is going through a similar phase and they support and encourage each other. I find it tremendously satisfying if I am dressed appropriately and I feel beautiful in what I’m wearing as well.

15.  Did the perception of yourself and your fashion sense change when you started wearing hijab and how?

Yes it did. When I started covering I thought to myself “I won’t be able to wear all my pretty ¾ skirts and dresses anymore”. But then I found maxi skirts and dresses just as pretty and a lot more versatile. I still love the same things, but I just style them differently now. I kept all those pretty dresses and skirts though, just because you can’t wear them outside the house doesn’t mean you can’t wear them inside!

16.  What advise can you give women on starting and sticking to wearing the Hijab?

I would suggest one understands the reasoning behind modesty for males and females. I can’t tell you how much it irks me when men think that the concepts of hijab and modesty only apply to women. When a guy tries to encourage his wife to start covering her awrah and wearing the hijab yet he wears skinny jeans and tight t-shirts, I don’t think that’s correct or fair. Don’t get me started on board shorts and wetsuits (lol). But I digress! 

As I mentioned before, the key to being consistent with wearing your hijab is about understanding but also above all else, your intention. Question why do you want to wear it? Whom are you hoping to please? It’s much easier to stick with something if you know why you are doing it. As kids attending Madrassa, there was a lot of emphasis placed on the “how to” of our deen and not enough on the “why”. It could be that we wouldn’t quite have grasped the concepts and wisdom of Islam at such a young age. But I feel we could have benefited from learning to love Allah; understanding why it is that we make salaah or wear the hijab etc. Instead of basically being told that “if you don’t do this, Allah is going to punish you” and in that way we may have found it easier to fulfill all those practices from an earlier age. (Obviously not all madrassas are the same but I went to five different ones plus an Islamic High School.) I would also advise that if you have never worn the scarf before, start out slowly and what you feel most comfortable in and Insha Allah you will progress from there. If you’re able to jump right in, then Alhamdulillah. It’s not an easy feat so try to surround yourself with people who inspire, encourage and support you. Play around with different hijab styles and experiment. Remember, just with your intention alone, you’re already half way there ♥

Alhamdullilah! Such wise words! Saara's interview really and truly reflect alot of my own thoughts and opinions. I think that most Hijabi's that live in similar environments eventually stumble upon the same thoughts. We seem to go through similar experiences with our hijab and I am sure that if you have started wearing hijab you will feel the same. Trust us that to try it, a flower will begin to open within you in you and a new understanding will arise.


  1. Love the post. We all struggle/d with it, I know I still do,may Allah make it easy for all of us IA.
    Well done to both of you ladies :)

    1. Thank you Yumna!! May the Almighty make it easy for you too In Sha Allah!! Can't wait to see you again!

  2. This is such an inspiring blog post. Shukran for sharing it with us ♡


  3. Wow very inspiring article. Not only beautiful outside but inside as well. MashAllah.
    Nash from