Janan Shihadeh is a confessed artaholic. An insatiable appetite for art, paint brush in hand, she is unstoppable. Coloring in the black and white world around her, turning white walls into tromp l'oeil dreams, drab slabs of concrete into masterful murals, furniture into works of art and wildly popular handbags into unique treasures.

Interesting how one's calling often reflects the person. Born in Chicago to Palestinian parents, this beauty both inside and out, has a contagious positivity, lighting up a room with her pragmatic yet optimistic outlook. To think that her hugely successful customized handbags business all started with a friend's unfortunate coffee spill on a beloved white handbag. Janan salvaged the bag, transforming the espresso stain to art, a geisha with psychedelic flowers, and the rest is history... (a.k.a. her instagram feed!)

In this interview CIIN picks Janan's creative mind. How better to understand a brand, than by understanding the brains behind it.

On that Eureka! moment…

It takes a while for any woman to find her true calling, at any stage in her life there is something standing in the way. In her twenties she is looking for a job, then love, then a family and the list goes on. For Janan her calling came in the form of a billboard while driving down a highway in Washington DC.



Janan was quickly promoted to her dream job, assistant to muralist Byron Peck, one of the biggest names in the business. Note to self, 'work hard, and keep at it.'


On what makes her successful…

From the outside, a brief look at Janan's scope of work and one thing is clear, Janan is open to life. She dreams, experiments and succeeds. For most accomplished people the list of 'that didn't quite work out' is just as long as their success list. They are open to opportunity… Janan personally credits her diligence and detailed perfectionism, after all her star sign is Taurus. We at CIIN can't help but add that Janan has great people skills, people part with their money with a fabulous handbag and a huge smile. When asked who she designs for, Janan mentions daring women who want their individuality to shine through.



On creative inspiration…

Janan is worldly, off the top of our heads we can name four cities that she has lived in, London, Cairo, Washington DC and Dubai. In typical Janan fashion, she pragmatically takes in the world around her, she is not a tortured artist that is 'struggling to find', this woman, on the contrary gives. Inspired by simple pleasures, happy thoughts and mother nature, Janan taps them with her magical artistic wand, and sends them right back into the universe, brighter, shinier, richer.



On business…

Although Janan is more creative in art than she is in her business sense, it clearly hasn't stopped her wild success. Always surprised by the number of orders she receives, her business is clearly fueled by her passion for her art and trust in the universe. Her two cents for young entrepreneurs though, “keep overheads low!"

Janan's close friend Claudia Ricco is also credited for her instrumental involvement in the business . Owner of renowned online boutique Rewind Vintage, Janan believes Claudia is tantamount to the success of the bags.



If she were stuck in an elevator with Warren Buffet for a single minute, how would she describe her business ?





On some of her beautiful things…

A self-proclaimed rock chic with a dash of hippie, Janan finds herself most in her hat collection. When in the mood for glamour, fur is her go to piece. Judging from Fendi's first couture show, with over 40 pieces of fur on show, there is no denying the importance of animal skin in fashion. Whether you choose faux fur, Stella McCartney style or the real deal, is a very personal choice.

As for makeup, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the woman that colors the world, will probably want to color herself also, although she really doesn't need it. Her favorite product, Skin 79 BB cream.




On downtime …

For Janan downtime is family time with her husband Omar and 16 year old twins Taya and Samo. Following in their mother's creative footsteps, fashion blogger Taya Shalaby, founder of the Style Pharaoh offers her impressive following an insider's view of Dubai fashion. As for her son Samo Shalaby,a gifted artist who has blown away prominent Egyptian photographer Yousef Nabil with his work.

Like with all of us, good times and good food go hand in hand. Janan's current favorites are Dubai based, “Catch" and “La Petit Maison".


On the cause dearest to her heart …

It's no surprise that this woman, in tune with the world is humbled by the plight of the most vulnerable persons in conflict-torn areas of the Middle East.

We at CIIN think, how amazing it would be if Janan had the opportunity to create a mural on the horrific Israeli-Palestinian Wall…


On her pearls of wisdom…




Janan's coveted customised handbags are currently sold internationally, walk into a trendy concept or clothing store from Singapore to Milan to USA and if you're lucky, you will find her treasures. What a surprise it was yesterday when Janan walked into On Pedder, Singapore's trendiest boutique, to find her bags.

Larger stores include Harvey Nichols, Rewind Vintage, Gilt in addition to Sauce and Boom & Mellow in UAE, and Bagittude in Cairo.


Janan Shihadeh
Janan Shihadeh
Janan Shihadeh
Janan Shihadeh
Janan Shihadeh
Janan Shihadeh
Janan Shihadeh
Janan Shihadeh
Janan Shihadeh
Janan Shihadeh
Janan Shihadeh