Leather International: How did you get involved in design?

Wejdan Sager: I founded Wejdan’s in 2012 during my sophomore year at university. I was studying at King Saud University in Riyadh, majoring in medicine and surgery. My exposure to the fashion industry began at a very young age through my family’s business, which specialised in beauty services and dressmaking.

Did you have support when you first started?

Starting a business at a young age came with its own set of challenges but, as a young Saudi woman, I needed to prove that competence wasn’t conditioned by age. Saudi business has long been dominated by male entrepreneurs but in recent years, there has been a tremendous influx of Saudi female entrepreneurs, and these have been notably supported by the government.

What techniques do you use to convey that better quality of life?

Wejdan’s adopts themes and aesthetics from nature. In the process of creating a piece, those aesthetics live within each item without affecting its purpose and function.

Where is your customer base?

Currently, they are based in the gulf: Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait being the areas of prominence. The company aims to expand to reach consumers from all around the globe.

What are the challenges of breaking into the international market?

Given the novelty of manufacturing women’s leather goods in Saudi Arabia, the process of making Wejdan’s bags is lengthy and challenging, starting with assembling the raw materials to finding a manufacturer equipped and committed to producing high-quality items.

At the same time, being a designer from a country where such a craft is still being pioneered can be very rewarding, as one can have control over the shape it eventually takes and advance and get recognised for having a unique background story.

Working with a wide variety of materials, what are your thoughts on the extent to which synthetics can replicate the qualities of leather?

Wejdan’s refuses to advance the mistreatment of animals in the beauty and fashion sectors. The company realises those practices aren’t universal, yet it acknowledges the alternatives to leather. Wejdan’s also appreciates the high quality and large variety leather comes in; whether in colours or patterns.

How do you ensure that materials are sustainably sourced?

Wejdan’s providers are transparent about their practices, so it’s easy to track materials. Also, advances in science mean that plant-based synthetics are easily reproduced, implanted and harvested in an orderly technique. Also, the company’s products have been carefully designed and its raw materials have been meticulously picked in order to match other products in the market, whether made of leather or not.

What specific type of consumer are you attracting and why?

I design for a generation, rather than a certain region. I recognise the trend towards globalisation and connecting cities, which is vital for our coexistence as humans. This would allow for more fluid motion in fashion trading, which is why Wejdan’s is targeting the international market.