AFH Designs: How Resilience Rebuilds an Empire
#Anti-Hacking. This story has a moral.
In 2014 Farida Abushady founded AFH Designs, a jewelry design brand that speaks to the liberated soul.
Crystal healing and the power of stones has recently come up as a fad in pop culture, but Farida had an infatuation for the spiritual and superstitious long before it fell into being a trend. Living and studying in London in 2014, she visited Dubai for a holiday and came across a market that sold pure stones and crystals. She collected a few and began making bracelets for herself, which eventually attracted the attention of her friends, and within weeks and after posting a few simple pictures online, she was returning to Egypt for the summer with over 200 orders ... the majority of which were for men.
AFH is a brand I have personally followed and admired from day one. The pieces exemplify quality and exude an air of travel, multiculturalism, and diversity through the use of a variety of symbolic emblems such as the Buddha, Key of Life, skulls, shells, crystals, Hamsa's hand, specific stones and more. With a Bohemian, free spirited image to the brand, AFH stood out as one of the first local design labels in Cairo offering jewelry of a specific essence to a gender neutral customer.
AFH is a name that stems from Farida's family's initials, the logo was recently rebranded by Graphic Designer Sherifa Habib, with a circle around the letters that symbolises eternity and a mandala encompassing it.
Essentially Farida started AFH on her own, she developed the website, built the brand image, managed the Instagram page, and organised the shoots with the help of former partner Salma Sherif and while working consistently with Egyptian photographer Mariam El Gendy.
A couple of months ago Farida received an email from Instagram stating that her account had been verified, with instructions that lead to a Login page to activate the coveted "Blue Tick" verification icon. Typically, as we all would be, she was excited for this milestone and followed the steps from an email that looked identical to that of Instagram's admin.
A week later no verification had occurred. On her way to work one day, checking AFH emails, she received one that stated that her email address for the brand's Instagram account had been changed. Upon checking, the AFH account had disappeared off of Instagram with all pictures, hashtags, customer database being immediately erased and untraceable.
In a digital age of online entrepreneurship, the hacking and effective deletion of your brand's account on social media, be it Instagram or Facebook, is essentially the worst possible case scenario. When talking to Farida, I was adamant on asking how and where one could find the motivation to rebuild a brand that had over 25k followers and a huge customer base after such an occurrance.
Farida works at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Dubai as a Marketing Executive. Her colleagues were aware of AFH as a brand, but not of the unfortunate circumstances that had occurred, and so one of them asked her why she looked so down and she proceeded to explain.
His response, "You built it once, you can build it again."
At this point in time Farida is working with power house PR agency Maison Pyramide, on an Anti-Hacking campaign to raise awareness for both this online threat as well as the return of AFH. Aiming for a slow recovery, she'll be focusing on her on ground locations such as Pop Up Shop in Cairo. The future of AFH will be about more than just jewelry, as Farida aims to venture into other realms of design.
AFH is all about being different, connecting with your soul, and detaching from the corporate life; the AFH girl is the girl that leaves her life behind and moves to the jungle, to the beach, without all the streets and skyscrapers. We're a down to earth, connected brand; the AFH girl has messy hair in braids unbrushed, tanned all the time, wearing baggy clothes ... she's free. - Farida Abushady
Moral of the story: Farida didn't allow what many would call a brand's online demolition demotivate her, she built AFH and so she has the tools to do so once more. The hacking incident inspired her to want to create a raw edgy tribal collection, that exemplifies the resilience that was shown by herself during this trying situation, which in my opinion, will lead to the revival of an empire much stronger and much greater than before. Good luck and we'll be following.