Bahrain Confidential talks to Shahla Alzayani, one of the visionaries behind Calma.
Can you tell us a bit about yourselves? Who are the visionaries behind Calma?
My name is Shahla Alzayani, I am a seventeen-year-old Bahraini student who attends Bahrain School. I started Calma, alongside my friend Layla Alsaad, with guidance from my elder sister, Reem. Now that the initial goal has been fulfilled, I would like to develop the concept further with Reem under guidance from the family.
How did Calma start? What is the goal of this initiative?
Calma’s initiative initially began as a CAS (creativity, activity, and service) project requirement for International Baccalaureate (IB) degree. Layla Alsaad, a friend who is also an IB student at Bahrain School, and I thought of creating a way to raise money for the COVID-19 crisis occurring in Bahrain. We came up with an idea to sell custom made beaded jewelry and donate the full sale proceeds. With that in mind we launched an Instagram account to showcase our ideas and designs with a business portal to receive payments. The account gained a large amount of traction which resulted in exceeding our goals giving us the chance to introduce a scale up our idea.
Furthermore, meeting up with the Royal Humanitarian Foundation (RHF) and its Secretary General, Dr. Mustafa AlSayyed, we realized how much potential our project has with helping the community in multiple ways. Our new and improved goal is to help community as a whole, with pressing matters that occur all year long. The main goal of Calma is to spread positivity and give a helping hand to the population by reassuring them that in times of desperate needs there is a helping hand, this message is reflected in the name Calma; calm in Italian. These motivational images/words are a visual way to spread calmness while looking at our products.
How do you come up with the designs for your pieces?
We come up with our designs through following fashion trends, customer requests and creative design. We create these designs based on multiple factors, such as the seasons and current trends. Our designs are both functional and durable. In addition, we also simultaneously pay attention to and consider items that can be helpful, and create a distinctive look to them. For example, we just launched masks holders; a versatile design that is similar to eyeglass holders, with a unique twist. We also give our customers the freedom and flexibility to custom-make their own bespoke pieces by choosing their preferred colors, styles, and sizes. Our main objectivity is achieving customer satisfaction through creativity and versatility so that we maintain growth of our products and client base.
Where do you see Calma in the near future? Will you continue this venture long term?
Since this initiative began as an IB CAS project, it was meant to last a couple of months. We noticed the support, success, and demand of these products among the population in Bahrain and GCC countries, and the good they are willing to spread, which motivated me and my sister Reem to think of transforming this initiative into a longer term business initiative.
We are exploring our options with an open mind, but are hopeful to have greater achievements within the community by collaborating with similar local initiatives. For example, after three days of launching the Instagram, we were given the opportunity to collaborate with a member of the 1% application in Bahrain. The main idea is to give back to a community we consider as family, in a place we are proud to call our home.
Are there any tips/inspirational messages that you would advise the youth of Bahrain today?
I am proud to say that Calma has inspired and resonated with many people, especially the younger generation. We have received a number of messages from parents and children highlighting the positive influence we have had on them; one eleven-year-old girl even reached out to propose her business plan to me. I am astonished and grateful for the success that Calma experienced in such a short amount of time. Because of this, I advise everyone and anyone to take a risk and create an initiative they think of, especially if it is for the greater good.
In closing, I would like to thank all those who have supported us in making this dream a reality. His Majesty King Hamad for setting up The Royal Humanitarian Foundation (RHF) and allowing us a platform to give back to society, HRH Prince Nasser for his continued oversight and leadership of growing its contributions to humanity in Bahrain and Dr. Mustard Alsayyed, for kind personal advice and patronship. We would also like to thank our parents and our school for their encouragement and support. My sisters Reem, Hala and Leen for their time and hard work throughout this journey and @az.thetics_ for designing and fine-tuning our Instagram page.
Last but not least we thank and appreciate the support from all those who have supported our initiative by being our products whether from Bahrain and abroad for without their support we wouldn’t have been able to make this a success.