WFH Diaries | With Sabina Motasem

Sabina Motasem
Photography by Elliot Wilcox

“White wine. Lockdown has changed many things, but white wine remains a constant.” Sabina Motasem on her lockdown tipple of choice

With her cult following of timeslessly chic, cool brides, bridal designer Sabina Motasem has not only made waves in the wedding industry since the label’s conception in 2007, but has taken on lockdown with a fiery determination and some serious style. With a whole load of love, grit, skill and the generosity of strangers, Sabina Motasem has set-up the Islington and North Hackney Scrubhub to help medical staff during the Coronavirus crisis. Cue applause please, because this is one inspiring, resourceful woman…

#1 Provide us with three words that sum-up how you were feeling about lockdown when it first started, and then three words about how you feel now:

Before: “Frustrated, melancholy, thoughtful.”

After: “Reflective, hopeful, cautiously optimistic.”

Sabina Motasem
Photography by Elliot Wilcox

#2 What time do you get up? Has this changed? Is life a little slower? Talk to us about your new daily routine…

“I get up at the normal time, get ready and dressed for the day, as if I am going into the studio. It makes such a huge difference to your mental wellbeing. I’d say that life is as busy as it was before lockdown.

Whilst the wedding industry has been on pause since lockdown, I thought about ways I could use our collective expertise and network of cutters, factories and seamstresses to help medical staff during the Coronavirus crisis. We decide to create the Islington and North Hackney Scrubhub.

We have delivered over 600 scrubs and there are 700 scrubs currently being made by our NHS Scrub Army of over 20 kind volunteers who are all working safely and magically from home.

Once we’ve finished the working day, we cycle round Hackney and Islington to deliver scrubs to local health centres and medical health workers who have contacted us. My other half is now very familiar with the drill of me ringing a buzzer, standing back, and flinging an A3 padded envelope of newly made scrubs to the person who answers the door, abiding by social distancing rules!

This is giving us much needed exercise. However, don’t expect a Joe Wicks-esque transformation anytime soon; my early evening bike rides inevitably finish with a very, very nice drink which I am sure isn’t part of his routine!”

Sabina Motasem

#3 How is lockdown impacting your business, and how can people support you?

“As I say, the whole industry is on pause. However, in amongst all the scrub making, we are always committed to all our brides.

We are offering brides (who are planning their weddings next year and looking for the perfect dress) to be one of the first to try on new dresses at home during lockdown and through virtual appointments.

We’re also ensuring all our brides who are key workers get lovingly made scrubs for free.”

Sabina Motasem
Photography by Dan Williams

#4 Name three local businesses you are supporting or would like to support more…

No.1 Berber & Q and Angelina Dalston – two local restaurants who have been making thousands of meals for NHS staff.”

No.2 Tallulah Lingerie and Maison Aase – our wonderful Islington neighbours, who do the best in select luxury underwear including beautiful bridal ranges, ethical independent designers and antique Japanese kimonos.”

No.3 Map Maison – my favourite local bar where I celebrated my recent engagement just before the pubs were closed.”

#5 What’s your favourite isolation snack?

“Banana smoothie.”

#6 What’s your most recommended quarantine pick-me-up when you’re feeling down?

“A bike ride or a Joe Wicks routine is the best thing to get those endorphins going.”

Sabina Motasem
Working from home

#7 What’s the item you can now NEVER find in the supermarket (and consequently dream continuously about)…

“Yeast! Everyone is making bread, this seems to be like gold dust.”

#8 What’s the strangest thing that’s happened during your lockdown period…

“I’m connecting and virtually meeting more new people than I did before! People whose paths may not have crossed with mine, like the couturier in west London who’s campaigning to get more PPE made, the anaesthetist who started the Visor Army, the local professional seamstresses and pattern cutters who are giving up their time to make scrubs, many of whom I’d love to continue working with.”

Sabina Motasem

#9 Favourite app for keeping in touch digitally with friends and family?

“Zoom and WhatsApp.”

#10 Name your lockdown hate:

“Not being able to hang out with my friends.”

#11 Name your lockdown love:

“Lots of time to devote to creative projects I never had before – we’re going to finish painting a gold Japanese screen for the shop (I should say my loving boyfriend shouldn’t I??).”

#12 The person(s) you will hug first when social distancing is no longer in place?

“My parents, I miss them so, so much.”

#13 An act of kindness towards you that you’ve really appreciated?

“Lots! After seeing the charity page, we got a call out of the blue from a London based courier company who are distributing all the pre-cut scrubs and supplies for free, a magician who has swapped entertaining to delivering visors, kind folk who are helping with the intricate logistics of collecting and delivering and the NHS volunteer who helped a Syrian refugee with an industrial sewing machine and overlocker and who is really enjoying making scrubs through Scrubhub for us.”

Sustainable and Vegan Wedding Dress Collection | Coming Soon

#14 Talk to us about what’s new at your brand?

“We’ve got several new dresses being added to the Nouveau Collection Part Two and we will be officially launching our debut Sustainable and Vegan wedding Dress Collection range post-lockdown. We weren’t able to shoot the new dresses because of lockdown restrictions, but we can’t wait to do that once its safe to do so and share the images. If you’re a bride and you’d like an exclusive sneak peek and try on, let us know here.

The new sustainable dresses are made with the same craftsmanship as the Nouveau couture collection and are still proudly made in London. The silk has been swapped for the most luxurious sustainable silky fabrics we could find and has been two years in the planning and developing. This is a range of ultra-modern dresses not only kinder to the planet, but on the pocket too.”

#15 Name three things the lockdown has made you grateful for:

No.1 “My wonderful family – I have four sisters, two of whom aren’t in London and videocalls mean I am able to see them and stay in touch.”

No.2 “The generosity of strangers.”

No.3 “My amazing boyfriend.”

Photography by Dan Williams

#16 Which restaurant will you dine at first once restrictions are lifted?

Berber and Q first – although my boyfriend is campaigning for a Hawksmoor blowout!”

#17 What series have you now completed on Netflix? Any recommendations?

“We watch more movies than TV so we’re a bit behind (only just finished the first season of Sex Education). I’m liking that films are being released straight to digital as the cinemas are closed – if you like horror I recommend the Invisible Man! I have managed to binge-watch all three seasons of Westworld, am half-way through The Handmaiden’s Tale, and have The Normal People (BBC) waiting in the wings to watch.”

Photography by Dan Williams

#18 What would be your quarantine book list?

“I just finished Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and now reading Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace. Like other people, though, finding time to read seems perversely hard. I prefer to be keeping a diary instead, I find this clears the head.”

Photography by Dan Williams

#19 And, finally, your quarantine cocktail/tipple of choice?

“White wine. Lockdown has changed many things, but white wine remains a constant.”

Want to discover more about Sabina Motasem and the designer’s latest collections? Click here.

To read more WFH Diary entries from your favourite brands and designers, click here.

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