Shayba Muhammad of Mahnal: Faithfully Yours
If you want to go on a thoughtful and reflective journey, delve into the timeless collections of Mahnal. It's a peaceful ride through feelings, moods and experiences that ultimately make you seem like you're not wearing jewelry at all, but rather a second skin that's sharing a piece of yourself with the rest of the world
The Jewelry Edit had the opportunity to talk to Muhammad about what inspires her.
How did you comeup with the name/concept for your company?
Well I was in a transitory point in my beginnings as a designer, from experimenting with different styles to finally feeling I had the beginnings of an identity to express what I created. So I was looking for a name, but I was sort of allowing what it was to come to me. I knew that it needed to be Arabic, it needed to be meaningful, and feminine. So I was watching a Youtuber and heard her mention her real name, Mahnal.When I heard it struck me. It reminded me of an Egyptian friend’s name I heard a long time ago, Menell. But this one felt different. I looked into the meaning of the name and learned that it meant ‘attainment, achievement, and success’. I thought it was perfect because that’s what I was looking for in my life and that’s what I wanted to help other women reach.
Where do you look for inspiration when designing pieces?
I look for inspiration in a few different ways. My work is very conceptual and really illustrative of intangible concepts- aspirational characteristics and attributes, life lessons extracted from experiences, and principles. So often I’ll have a message in my mind that I want to get across and I try to express that message visually through my work. Other times I’ll see a a shape or a silhouette that I’m drawn to and I’ll meditate on how it makes me feel and draw out words and the purpose of those feelings until I arrive at a message for the piece..
What are your favorite types of pieces to design?
I think my favorite pieces to design are probably earrings. They’re the first thing you see when you look at someone. They’re the closest to the eyes and mind of the wearer.
What’s your favorite type of material to wear/work with?
I work almost exclusively with brass. It has an unmistakable color that feels very ancient and understated. It develops a patina over time and that aged appearance just adds to its versatility and character. It’s also durable, so it will last lifetimes.
How would you describe your style?
I would describe my style as timeless. Some days I feel more modern and classic, sometimes I’m a gypsy, but I’m not crazy about trends. I love drawing inspiration from various points in history that will work even 10, 20 years from now.
Who/what are your biggest style influences?
My biggest style influences are my mood. Sometimes I can listen to music and be inspired by a feeling. The feeling can bring a texture or color to mind.
What was the first piece of jewelry you remember buying for yourself?
I know I bought jewelry before this, but in high school some of my favorite jewelry pieces were things I found in thrift stores. I remember being really drawn to very chunky bohemian pieces. I loved to stack rings, I would load on these cheap tribal-inspired rings with oversized stones in them. My favorite bracelet was a sort of vintage bone bracelet that hinged and had a stone right in the middle. I remember it breaking, but I couldn’t let go of it, it was so beautiful. I wonder if I still have it somewhere today actually...
What’s the most special piece of jewelry you own? What’s the story behind it?
My wedding ring for reasons that may be obvious. :Aside from that I don’t know if I have a most special piece. My favorites change with life.
What’s one piece of jewelry you wear often,that you can’t live without?
My Wahada ring! I wear it as a thumb ring, I love a good thumb ring. It’s so simple- and you can’t wear anything crazy on your thumb. But the double bar makes it feel interesting and not ordinary so it’s perfect.
Why do you think it’s important for people to wear/own jewelry?
I don’t think it’s important for everyone to. You have to want to express yourself in that way. It’s one of many languages of expression, holding memories, and communication. But I happen to specialize in this language, so I can say what makes this language special is it’s detail. Jewelry is like salt. You don’t have to have it, but a look just doesn’t feel finished without it. Jewelry is usually the smallest part of your wardrobe, so they have to be fluid and bridge the gap in between separate spaces. They’re like the threads that connect and unify. They empower the entire wardrobe around them.
What’s something people should keep in mind when shopping for jewelry?
Pay attention to how a piece makes you feel. What are you reflecting from within? Self love? Insecurity? Remembrance? Renewal? Remember- and not just with jewelry- but remember that everything we adorn ourselves with are like little story-tellers in our lives. Be intentional with your story.
What draws customers in to purchase jewelry from your collection?
Customers love the timelessness of the work, but what I hear over and over is how the meanings connect with them. That’s so powerful to me and I love that it’s their favorite part because it’s my favorite part to share with them.