Carinne is the creative talent behind KeenBags, a business she started in Dubai 18 months ago. Stylish yet practical, we’re loving the generous size and versatility of KeenBags’ range. It almost impossible to choose just one!
Saffron Souk was lucky enough to grab a little of Carinne’s time in the lead up to the WIN fashion show where some of KeenBag’s pouches were carried by the catwalk models (exciting!) and here’s what she had to share with us…
What sort of products do you make?
I design bags and pouches with an Arabic inspiration. I’ve created 3 different models: a tote bag often used for the beach, sport activities or to carry our daily life; a hand-bag and their matching travel pouches, IPad sized.
I use the Arabic men’s scarves, called the Guthra, and I play with the colours and the designs. Since guthra fabrics are very fragile I have my bags covered with a clear plastic. It also gives a strong resistance to the bags. All my bags are doubled with cotton, with an inside pocket and a key-holder.
When did you decide to start your own enterprise? Selling?
I’ve always stitched bags and pouches for myself, for my daughter and for my friends. In November 2011, I had the chance to participate to my very first event at Alliance Francaise at the Christmas Market. It all started there since I sold almost all my creations. Then slowly my hobby became a full time job!
What’s the best thing about setting up your own brand?
I run my business alone with the strong support of my husband, but I take all the decisions, I buy the fabrics and materials in lost places where I feel no expat have ever been to, I love it! I have the direct contact either with my tailors or my customers, from the beginning of the creation to the sell.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
I started KeenBags without any money to invest. I could spend only what I’ve earned from a sale. It gave a lot a value to my work.
Any exciting news to share?
I’m very proud that my pouches were carried by models at the WIN Fashion Show on Saturday, March 16th.
1-3. Highlights from the WIN Fashion Show where models carried pouches from KeenBags
Where do you get your design inspiration?
I’ve been living in Dubai for 10 years now and I guess this experience has a direct impact on my inspiration. My grandfather was from Algeria, my grandmother from Turkey, I also lived one year in Algeria, plus 10 years in Dubai, it had to build something! I also love the design of the guthra and of the Fatma hands, though it is very much fashionable, it is more than only fashion! It gives protection to the one holding it, it removes bad eye from you and, above all, it is a common symbol for different religions.
Who’s your favourite fashion designer?
I’m a big fan of the eccentricity of Jean-Paul Gauthier! I also love Christian Lacroix and his mix of material!
What is your current must-have accessory?
A brooch! On any dark jacket, it enhances your outfit! Simply hung on your handbag, it signs a style.
I also like to add colors with funny necklaces from Mouna of Marseille.
Some of Carinne’s favourite things… 1. Lacroix, 2. Gauthier and 3. A necklace from Mouna of Marseille, a brand created by Carinne’s mother!
What trends are you following this Spring?
I still will have my guthra bags with the Fatma hand, I’ve added the Buddha design which I apply on flashy plain fabrics. I’ve also started playing with flowers, zebra and leopard fabrics…Hush! It’s on the way…
Tell us 5 words to describe yourself.
Hardworking, loyal, perfectionist, caring and passionate.
What’s your favourite colour?
Orange, orange…and orange! I’ve got married in an orange dress and can’t move away from this sunny and bright color, it gives me and my skin a lot of energy!
1-6. Carinne certainly has a keen eye for colour and detail!
What’s your favourite film?
The boat that rocked from R. Curtis, Indian Palace from J. Madden, Le Concert from R. Mihaileanu and any James Bond.
What are you reading right now?
Les meilleures intentions du monde, Gabriel Malika. A novel whose action takes place in the Middle East!
When did you last laugh?
Yesterday with the kids watching an old French movie and eating our pizza-salad menu! Home-made pizza and everyone does their own salad. We love it!
And here they are! Carinne’s twins, 1. Prune and 2. Mathis 3. Carinne’s current read
Do you have any regrets?
I feel too young to have any regrets, hopefully what I may regret I’ll still have time to achieve it later!
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Being more self-confident!
You’re throwing a fantasy dinner party. Who do you invite, alive, dead, real or ficticious?
My grandfather, my husband’s grandfather, Aung San Suu Kyi, Emile Zola, Ben Affleck, Kenneth Branaght, Oprah Winfrey, Florence Foresti and Maude Fontenoy.
1. Carinne’s fantasy dinner party would look a little like this!
Do you have any pets?
Oups, no I don’t.
Do you believe in luck?
Yes I do, though I believe that luck isn’t only hazardous it can surely be raised as well.
Do you have a motto?
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Did you ever run away from home as a child?
No, never! And I’m not saying so because I know my kids will read this interview!
What is your golden rule?
As far as health is here, we keep happy.
Who is the best super-hero? Superman, Batman or Spiderman?
No hesitation, Batman for his amazing outfit and his super car!
What’s the best career advice anyone ever gave you?
Do what you feel good to initiate not what others advice you to initiate. Works quite well actually!
What is the greatest mystery of the universe?
OMG, how come we all are here?
1-4. Carinne is a regular and many weekend markets and open house sales…here she is at the WIN Fashion Show event, surrounded by some of KeenBags’ bags and accessories
What is your greatest aim in life?
It’s so common but being healthy and happy with my husband David, my twins Prune and Mathis, my family and friends, what else?
How many foreign languages do you speak?
French is my mother-tongue language; I speak English and some words of Arabic and Spanish.
What is the oddest habit you will admit to?
I do always touch with my left hand the door of any plane I go in! Please don’t ask why and don’t try to analyze anything about it.
What are you most embarrassed by?
Here in Dubai it would be the way some expats or tourists are dressed! Too short is too much outrageous!