We Chat With SASA The Label Founder Salma Hodhod
For Oakland-based designer Salma Hodhod, fashion is a conduit for self-expression without saying much. Her clothing label, SASA The Label, is one of the rapidly-growing brands that offer not only unique but handmade and sustainable pieces. Leveraging her influencer and experience as a creative director and stylist, Salma is aiming to grow her brand as she makes her designs available worldwide.
SASA’s Fall/Winter 2020 collection introduces their staple Ryder set, which consists of the Terry Top and Cropped Pant. Both come in a Powder Blue and Baby Pink colorway with the former giving a push-up effect while the latter is made of stretchy material and gives a lifting effect. These pieces are versatile, statement-making pieces perfect for the fall and winter wardrobe. Through SASA, Salma Hodhod has marked her presence as a young promising designer on the come up and we couldn’t be any more excited to see what the brand offers in the future.
For our latest interview, we got to chat with SASA The Label founder Salma Hodhod in regards to her Oakland upbringing, how style plays a role in our everyday lives, and much more! Read below.
Who for you was your biggest role model growing up and why?
I will always say my mother because she put me on to so much game and sacrificed so much for my sister and me. Of course, my grandmother half-raised me as well. From all her creativity, her strength, and resilience. I never saw either one of them give up on anything before. As a female, this was such a powerful message. They were always so fearless and they mastered every craft they touched.
In Egypt, they didn’t have many clothing stores for people my grandmother’s age. My grandmother and all her sisters would go to the fabric stores to create looks based on their taste or season. My sister and I began going with my grandmother to the fabric store as well, choosing our own fabrics and creating our own looks as well. We would cut out images from magazines or runway shows and emulate our own version of those looks.
Talk to me about being raised in Oakland, how did that shape the person you are today?
I was actually raised in Egypt, Bay Area California, and Dubai. I moved back and forth quite a few times due to various reasons. Living in Egypt was the greatest gift of all. To live in Egypt you have to be on your toes, you have to be creative. They are innovators, they are hustlers, they are just high off of life.
It taught me to be grateful, it showed me what is really important in life. It gave me that “don’t give a fuck” attitude. I saw so many parts of Egypt that will forever be imprinted in my mind, from the Souk’s to my grandmother’s village in upper Egypt, my drive to school in Giza passing the pyramids every single day. Moving back and forth I felt like an alien everywhere I went. This is sort of where I developed my lone wolf mentality.
Interestingly enough I see a lot of Egypt in Oakland. That’s where I developed my love for it so much. Oakland is filled with that same type of creativity. I am just so used to living in a place that creates its own rules, that paves its own way without needing to be accepted by anyone. That’s what life is about to me, creating your own rules and living how you see fit, so long you aren’t hurting anyone on your path.
How did you start off making clothing and creating your own brand?
I come from a fashion photography background, I realized it wasn’t photography I enjoyed but it was more of creating a vibe, an idea from start to finish. I was styling most of my shoots and was creative directing them as well. I realized it was more of the production side of things and creating than actually snapping and editing the images.
When we hit quarantine there was not much to do so I started to create my own self shoots. I wanted to take everything to the next level. I showed my boyfriend how to use my camera and I set up an entire shoot with my friend/hairstylist.
As I started to style my shoot I realized I was missing a top. I went to the fabric store, got fabric glue, and made a makeshift top! It ended up being so cute and thought wow I can elevate this and finally start my brand! So I did just that. I created a secondary dope shoot with the finalized “strap top” bringing all of my favorite aesthetics into one and I launched! I had been wanting to start SASA for a very long time prior to it “magically” happening.
What has entrepreneurship taught you about yourself and running a business?
Patience!! It’s taught me to be patient at the same time, to not take my foot off the gas. I’ve always lacked patience but in order for things to develop, they need to breathe.
How would you describe the aesthetic of SASA for someone who had never seen one of your pieces before?
I don’t know if I can describe SASA as one entire aesthetic. It’s a mixture of so many things. The pieces so far have been more of a statement than anything. Designs that you can keep in your closet for years to come and style a hundred different ways. They are made to make you feel confident. They are made to make you “feel like the baddest bitch” in the room.”
The photoshoots go hand in hand with my pieces. I come from a photography and creative direction background so, when I’m in the process of designing the pieces I have already established my location for the shoot, models I want to work with, and the overall energy I want to create or bring surrounding the collection or piece. Most of my shoots are inspired by my daily surroundings.
How much do you think clothing is part of someone’s identity and personality?
Clothing has been a huge part of my identity and self-expression. I have always experimented with different “styles”. You can change your entire mood based on a fit. You can also express how you’re feeling with an outfit or with a specific piece entirely. It’s real-life art and you are the canvas.
Can you give us a hint on your next exciting project?
Unisex!! I have always enjoyed shopping in the men’s section. I am in the midst of fine-tuning SASA a bit. I want to create a BALANCE of more pieces for anyone like me that is not afraid of showing their masculine energy. I honestly feel so confident when I’m showing out and showing skin, and I feel just as confident wearing dope men’s pants and an oversized jacket for example. That’s what’s so fun about fashion and streetwear, is just dressing based on your mood or how you WANT to feel. I have a space to do that properly and I’m excited to push the envelope and execute these ideas and pieces in my own way.
If you could share a piece of advice with someone wanting to start a fashion label, what would that be?
Just start! You will never be ready because there are so many small details and things to learn along the way. Just start and start small even if it’s just one item. Be a student and be open to learning as much as possible. Stop looking at what everyone else is doing or has achieved, and just have fun with the process. Don’t go in expecting to sell out right away, don’t go in with so many expectations. How you start will not be how you end up. Make some compromises but don’t compromise your core beliefs and don’t forget why you started.
If you enjoyed our chat with SASA The Label founder Salma Hodhod, check out our interview with streetwear label OMO!