AB: Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
NK: Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. Me and my family ended up moving around the time of the Civil War like many of the people at the time - either to another city or even migrating to other countries. It was a tough time emotionally for thousands of Lebanese people.
AB: What was your childhood like?
NK: It felt like I was forced to run away from it.
AB: Your earliest/ fondest jewelry related memories/influences?
NK: I loved looking into my mother and grandmother's drawers, but always found myself even happier looking at old family photos of the parties they threw, and friendships they kept. Funnily enough I loved trying on their sunglasses more so than jewelry. I actually wasn't really into jewelry until a lot later in life.
AB: Childhood dreams/ heroes?
NK: I have always lived for the moment (i.e. the present). However with that being said, the only thing I have wished for was to have a house by the beach... that's my ultimate dream...
About Bil Arabi:
AB: When did you know you wanted to become a jewelry designer and launch your own brand?
NK: I never knew when it crept up on me. There was absolutely no plan or hope that went into it. Nothing about Bil Arabi was or has been pre-meditative. It all to this day continues to happen by chance, and I love that. The unpredictable of my creative process excites me, and fuels me forward. I consider myself more of a creative rather than a designer.
AB: How did that journey start? How did Bil Arabi come to be?
NK: Bil Arabi was born 12 years ago; it was a way to express myself against the misconceptions of 9/11 tragedy. I wanted to turn the power of words and love into wearable art. Bil Arabi set out to make a statement; it's about being proud of my Arab identity, culture, and language.
AB: Take us inside your design process
NK: I love typography, and I love calligraphy, so naturally it became a seminal part of my brand DNA. I got lucky with good handwriting, and so what sets our calligraphic jewelry apart is that it's actually my own handwriting that later moulded and created in gold - making them fairly unique.
AB: What is the toughest part of being a designer?
NK: Keep up with your own expectations of yourself, and personal approval. I'm my own toughest critic.
AB: What are some of your favorite pieces you've designed over the years?
NK: It's too hard to choose. I love every piece because they're all so contextualized and linked to people I care about and love. For example that time when you and I collaborated on a capsule collection marked the begin of such a strong friendship between us. That experience is etched into Bil Arabi history. Same goes for the other pieces I have designed and created over the years.
AB: Who do you design for? Who is the Bil Arabi girl/woman?
NK: I mostly design for myself.
AB: How did you establish your style as a designer?
NK: I think it's innate. You just happen to have it...or you don't!
A Little Bit More:
AB: The best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
NK: Never judge
AB: If there's one place in the world you could be, where would it be?
NK: On the beach. It's my happy place.
AB: If you weren't a designer, what would you be?
NK: A photographer which I already am. Going further back, I would probably go for archeology. I find it so interesting and captivating.
AB: Where are you taking your brand? Future plans, next steps?
NK: I believe in the written, so time will tell. Remember, I don't plan. I just kind of go with the flow. It's healthier.
AB: A fun fact about you no one knows?
NK: Do you really want to go there?!?!?! LOL
AB: Love you!
NK: Love you!