My City Series | Manar Mostafa Asaad
No one knows a city better than its people. Consciously Connected Travel shares with you our global fam and friends through our My City Series. Unmasking some of the coolest places and it’s people and giving you a deeper more connected insight.
A triple threat if there ever was one. Fashion Stylist, Creative Visionary and Model. Manar Mostafa Asaad is the ultimate trailblazer. Creating unapologetic chaos, starting conversations and changing the narrative and the viewpoint of Lebanon, through her own unique lens. Manar is part of the “new” Lebanon, driven by their past to rise from the ashes in their present.
Sculpting, embracing and marrying old and new. Splitting between Tripoli and Beirut, Manar is the woman you need to know when exploring the art, architecture and fashion creative scene. She knows and works with all the cool emerging designers, is connected to some of the most exclusive artisans and ateliers, holds the attention of the creative community and makes no apologies for doing it all her way.
Born and Raised or Expat?
Born and raised in Saudi arabia, Lebanese citizen
How did the idea of fashion styling come about?
I guess i’ve always been into fashion, ever since I was a kid i’d play dress up games, even when I used to draw dresses or outfits i’d always draw the kind of shoes or bag I wanted to style with it, never one item alone. so i’d say i’ve always had a thing for putting things together, which made me grow up as an organised person, as well as a perfectionist. I’m only satisfied with the best. However, I tend to always think outside the box when it comes to fashion, always trying to mix cuts and silhouettes, as well as different textures and colours. Because personally, I get bored easily, so playing with clothes is very entertaining for me, i’d wear pieces that normally some girls wouldn't dare wear, simply because people would find it weird. But I believe fashion is all about edge and being bold and confident with whatever you decide to wear, says a lot about your personality. For me, fashion is all about self expression.
What are your fondest memories of styling when you started your business/platform?
One of my fondest memories working in the fashion field is definitely when I started working with designers. I also take modelling jobs, so usually I model for local Lebanese designers, and they all usually let me style the entire photoshoot, which normally they don’t let models do. So it does actually makes me grow as a stylist, to work with different designers and that i’m actually able to please different tastes.
On your Day-to-Day routine?
My day to day routine is pretty simple, i’m usually a quiet person, I enjoy my morning with a cup of tea on my balcony. But i’m a very active person, so if I don’t have work or a photoshoot that day. My day’s pretty much organized. I workout every other day, with yoga in the middle, so if i’m not hitting the gym that day, i’d lay out my yoga matt and I let it all out. i’d usually go out to lunch with my best friend or my boyfriend. or go have some tea or coffee at my favourite coffee shop in town. As well as a stroll in the city with some music. I’d usually finish it all off by a bit of shopping, see what’s new in the fashion market.
5. Tell us some of your favourite spots in Tripoli ?
I’m very picky about the places I usually call a favourite of mine, I go for quiet places that a very selective type of people hang out at. There’s this coffee shop called Sara et Karim which are the names of the owners, they are a married young couple with their little baby Lily. It definitely feels like home with it’s cozy atmosphere and super friendly owners. They offer a variety of home baked cakes that Karim bakes himself, with a selected variety of tea blends as well, its interior design and decor is a bit different to what we usually see in this city. It has a very Boho, artistic feel to it which makes you feel like you’re at a coffee shop somewhere in Europe, it’s like a little day trip you take when you need a little quality time.
6. Where do you go to escape?
Yoga up on the roof, absolutely that! it’s so freeing and makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. I just lay out the yoga matt and let it all out, whether it’s for 20 minutes or a whole hour, just being able to breathe in and out and listen to the silence is definitely something I need to declutter my mind for some new ideas. Going for a run whilst blasting some rock music in my headphones is a great escape too.
7. You can’t take a vacation, so you decide to have a staycation, what do you do, where do you eat, where do you stay and why?
A staycation is something I do often, since I usually always have projects in the country. I tend to always try to discover new places, maybe a place i’ve seen on social media or been told about by friends and family. There’s always new things to see and new places to experience. For me, the old souk is on the top of my list, it’s just so mesmerizing to see how beautiful architecture can be even after so much time. I’d wait for my cheat days during the weekend to go to my favourite burger place in Jbeil called “neighbourhood” they have the best burger and it’s definitely worth the wait!
8. What local brands do we have to know about?
This is something i’m very proud to talk about. Lebanon is considered one of the smallest countries, yet it holds some enormous talents when it comes to fashion, and i’ve worked with some of them. By any means is a local brand that’s gradually growing, it’s basically a ready to wear; streetwear brand with a focus on local production. The name is representative of Lebanon, how it’s survived over the years despite the wars and bad conditions. People are still here trying to build something in their home country. Another brand is Emergency Room it’s another pret-a-porter local brand that focuses on creating statement pieces from used fabrics, like curtains or old pieces of clothing, they basically turn non-wearable things into pieces you’d want to show off, and it is all produced in Lebanon. Another brand that is worth mentioning is Rouba moukaddem she is a Lebanese designer, her designs focus on extenuating femininity , with flowy dresses, that just make any girl feel like a queen for the night.
9. Where’s your next adventure?
I’m planning my next adventure this summer to Germany! my best friend’s having her wedding this summer and i’m definitely not going to miss that. Plus, how often do you get a serious excuse to travel? i’ll be planning a Euro tour while i’m at it! that would be a sane thing to do.
10. Does Travel breed creativity?
Absolutely, undoubtedly, yes. Being open to different cultures and traditions, especially if you try to live and act like the locals wherever you are, opens up your mind, forcing you to think in different ways, thus making you more creative and open.
11. Where to shed those kilos, detox the body or protect the temple?
As I stated earlier, yoga is an answer to many things for me, as much as it is physically benefitial and improving, it is a spiritual act that just humbles you and balances you inside out. But i’m also into lifting weights. I find it challenging and it definitely has the fastest effect on the body, HIIT workouts, which are high intensity interval workouts, really bring your heart rate up and gets you in shape rapidly if you are consistent. but for me, a balanced and clean diet is the most important out of all.
12. Are there any philanthropic programmes or projects that you’re passionate about or would like to shed some light on?
Surely, Tara w kheit is on this list. The name Tara w kheit literally translates to “Hoop and a needle” where their specialty is hand embroidery on hoops, but they also do everything else by hand from clothes to accessories. It’s a non profitable organisation that has an all women staff, women who are underprivileged and are trying to help their families, every piece each women works on, she completely takes all the profit of it. I’ve been to the organization many times and every time I go I enjoy the experience more and more, it’s such a friendly environment and they all treat each other like family.
13. Entrepreneurs, Tastemakers and Trailblazers, Where do people like you hangout in your city?
Most people like me who are always looking for a quiet place to think or brainstorm, or maybe just finish some work behind a laptop. They tend to go to quiet places that offer you a relaxing environment that allows you to clear your head, they’re usually places with a cozy interior, some nice music in the background, and comfy seatings that makes you feel like you’re on your couch at home. A coffee shop in my city called Sara et Karim is the definition of that.
14. Give a shout-out to someone in your city that is doing groundbreaking things, and what is it that makes them a trailblazer?
A friend of mine called Rafik el hariri He’s a graphic designer and published illustrator that really inspires all artists, and everyone who likes art in general, his illustrations are breathtaking, he’s been getting a lot of recognition on social media lately. And with his growing published books, a favourite of mine is called “indigo” which is a children's’ book with illustrations and a message that is important to all humankind, is to be kind, always. His illustrations and books are usually about the human life, or motherhood. He’s truly a huge inspiration with an undeniable talent to be reckoned with.
15. A locals-only, off-the-radar, black book spot?
A little cafe called “Souk haraj” which is located in a small street in the heart of the old souks in Tripoli. it is a cafe with a very arabesque Islamic interior, which is something tourists or maybe even people coming from out of town would find interesting to explore to get a traditional experience, especially since they only serve full traditional Lebanese breakfasts.
16. What’s the next big thing when it comes to Fashion in Tripoli?
This city’s always growing in Fashion, with it’s rising reputation in the fashion industry, a lot of designers are getting recognition by magazines and TV shows for their incredible talents. It’s the second largest city in Lebanon and it is finally picking up and getting the recognition it deserves. It is full of amazing talents and they all need to be recognised.
17. Currently working on?
Aside from focusing on my blog and work as a stylist. My work in the fashion field in general. I have a thing for baking, i’ve always enjoyed it and I find it so fun, and everyone from friends to family goes crazy over anything I bake. So i’m trying to build a business with it. I built an online baking store for cookies and cupcakes, worked on the branding and packaging and all. If you know you’re good at something, you can always make it grow into something tangible.
18. Advice for budding entrepreneurs?
My advice is, go for it, full speed. Never settle for mediocre and always strive to improve yourself. Even if you fail at first, do it again, and again, until you succeed. Nothing ever comes easily, and if you really want it, you’re gonna have to work hard for it. Nothing tastes sweeter than being proud of yourself for not giving, and finally getting where you’ve always wanted.
19. We’re living in a world where our attention to new innovation doesn’t seem to have longevity, how do you find your inspiration to make new waves with long-term prosperity?
I say always look for new, smarter ways to spend your time, things that maybe intrigue your mind and make you wonder, things that make you curious. Always surround yourself with people like yourself, people who are artistic and positive and have a passion for life, for art, for anything that lights a spark in you. Do more of what you love, get inspired by people, but always be your authentic self.
20. Your ultimate playlist?
Most people are shocked to heat that I am a metal head.I love heavy metal and rock music. Who’s on my playlist rotation? A Lebanese alternative rock band, “Mashrou’ Leila” they incorporates lebanese ortiental tunes into their music. Hit the playlist to discover more of my favourites.