We are truly fond of Knotty Gal! Launched last Spring by mother-daughter duo Nur-E Gulshan Rahman and Nur-E Farhana Rahman, this sustainable line of hand-made accessories aims at promoting education amongst young girls in Bangladesh. We recently had a little chat with co-founder Nur-E Farhana Rahman and it went a little something like this…
Tell us a little about yourself, who is Nur-E Farhana Rahman?
I’m the co-founder of Knotty Gal, an accessories business that benefits education for girls in Bangladesh! I was raised by New Jersey, schooled by Washington, DC, and inspired by Bangladesh, but I keep coming back to my true love, New York! In my past life, I was a government contractor and then a consultant, but I left that all behind to follow my dream and start Knotty Gal!
What is the concept behind your brand Knotty Gal?
Less than a year ago, my mother and I founded Knotty Gal, which produces knotted, handmade necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. My mother and I design the pieces, and she makes them all by hand! We donate a portion of all proceeds to benefit the Bhandari Girls’ School in Bogra, Bangladesh, which my great-grandfather founded back in the 1960’s. The school is located in an impoverished area, and the administration doesn’t want to turn anyone way because of inability to pay, so the student body has swollen to over 1,000 girls! There simply aren’t adequate resources to properly accommodate everyone, so my mother and I decided to start Knotty Gal and help raise funds, and the rest is history!
Growing up, what did you want to be?
When I was younger, I thought for sure I would grow up to become a fashion designer! I had notepads filled with sketches of all my “designs”, and I would fiddle around on my mother’s sewing machine. I still remember I made this awful denim skirt one time, and I thought it was just the coolest thing ever! As I got older, though, I got more interested in international development, so instead of going to FIT or Parsons like I had always thought I would, I decided to go to Georgetown and be in DC instead. Very different path, but it was an incredible one and ultimately, it was that combination of creative desire and passion for international development that lead me to Knotty Gal!
How would you define your personal style? What’s your philosophy or motto?
My personal style is more simple and classic, but always with an unexpected and fun twist. I think that’s why I love accessories so much, especially ours, because they are- in my eyes- all statement pieces. To me, it’s so much fun to wear something like a classic LBD and then pair with a bold necklace, maybe in a bright color, to make what is chic and sophisticated also very modern and fun. That’s just what works for me. At the end of the day, though, fashion always has been and always will be about having fun, and that’s my personal philosophy. If you like it and it makes you feel good, and you’re having fun in it, then wear it!
What / who inspires you?
Wow, that’s a difficult one to answer! For me, inspiration comes in all forms, but when it comes to personal inspiration, I’d have to say the two defining forces in my life would have to be my mother and sister. To me, they are the epitome of strength, and they’ve taught me so much. It is because of them that I am who I am today! As per creative inspiration, that comes undoubtedly from my travels. I’ve been so blessed to be able to see some incredible places, and food, culture, colors, prints, and people all inspire me. Whether it’s Petra or Port-Au-Prince, there’s something I always take away from each place I visit!
What are your biggest accomplishments or proudest moments?
Prior to launching Knotty Gal, I started an online fundraising campaign to raise money for a new computer lab for the Bhandari Girls’ School in Bangladesh. We raised $2500, which was enough to buy ten brand new desktop computers. That was huge for me because it showed that you don’t need tens of thousands of dollars to be able to make a difference, and that a small amount can go a long way. I’ll never forget the feeling of surpassing our target or the feeling of hearing that for many of the girls, it was the first time they had ever even laid eyes on a computer. It was a pivotal moment because it just further fueled my desire to launch something like Knotty Gal.
What’s playing on your IPod these days?
Oh, it’s a random mix! Recently I’ve been listening to Lorde’s “Pure Heroine”, Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same”, and Justin Timberlake’s “20/20 Experience- Pt. II.” My brother took me to see Pearl Jam recently, so I’ve also been listening to the whole “Ten” album on repeat!
What was the last book you read?
I’m actually reading Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead right now! I am definitely late to the game on starting it, but I think Sheryl Sandberg is basically Super Woman, and I’ve read about a million different reviews of the book, so I’m excited to finish it. Next up on the list, though, is something a little bit more lighthearted- definitely Mindy Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me?” I love Mindy!
What’s next for you and Knotty Gal?
The dream has always been to build something that can make a positive, lasting impact for women and girls. To me, that means not just giving money like we do now by donating a portion of all proceeds, but also creating opportunities for communities to help themselves. My mother currently makes all of our pieces by hand, but the dream is to be able to employ local women artisans in Bangladesh and not just provide them with jobs, but also with leadership training, financial literacy, etc. The ultimate goal is to empower women and girls in a sustainable way that engages the local community and transforms lives for the better. That’s the next step for us!